In no particular order, I’ve compiled a list of healthy eating tips I’ve found most helpful for workout performance, skin care, fat loss, general health and meal prep. I only post and share things I can personally vouch for so when I was working on this article, I first wrote the categories I’ve worked on personally over the years.

Try the ones that stand out most to you – do you need more energy, are you struggling with post-exercise soreness, are you trying to eat gluten free or naturally clear up your complexion? There’s a tip here for you!

Workout performance

1. Ginger isn’t just for digestion. Drinking or bathing in 2-5 grams of ginger root has been shown to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness; it helps increase blood flow and circulation. Steep ginger root in hot water for tea or take a hot bath with grated ginger sealed in a cotton bag. The heat helps bring out the ginger oil to soothe your muscles.

2. Eat whole foods or drink a protein shake before and after your workout to prevent muscle breakdown, soreness and fatigue.

3. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are best for intense workouts lasting 90 minutes or longer. For shorter workouts, plain or fruit-infused water is best because your body doesn’t benefit as much from the extra carbs and sugar in the spots drinks.

4. On that note, limit 2 protein shakes per day. Eat whole foods whenever possible and save the shakes for on-the-go meals or before a workout if you’d rather not train on an empty stomach. A post-workout shake is a good choice if it’s late and/or you don’t have much of an appetite after a hard workout.

5. The amino acids in apple cider vinegar can combat the lactic acid that builds up during exercise and causes muscle fatigue. Drink 1-2 tablespoons straight or mix it in plain or fruit-infused water.

Skin care

6. Healthy fats are good for your complexion. Avocado is one of my favorites for hydrated soft skin, especially in these cold VA winter months. As a DIY face mask, the avocado oil gets deep in the skin to hydrate and soften flaky patches on the skin’s surface. Add sliced avocado to your salad to give your skin vitamins and antioxidants for a healthy glow from the inside out.

7. Eating excess dairy is one of the leading causes of cystic acne. Dairy is mucous forming and can be hard to digest (hence lactose intolerance) and eating too much of it can show up on your skin as cystic acne – hard, painful bumps under the skin. Cut back on dairy to reduce cystic acne.

Fat loss

8. Calories can’t tell time. Your total nutrition intake for the day matters more than what time you eat each meal. So yes, you can eat a healthy meal after 7 p.m. and not gain weight. This one made the list because I get asked this all the time and it’s usually by people who work late shifts or have late workouts. Food is fuel and your body needs it throughout the entire day – just like one healthy meal won’t help you reach your goals, one healthy late-in-the-day meal won’t set you back – it’s the culmination of all your eating habits that matters.

9. Always pair your complex carbs with protein. Carbs and protein together help stabilize your blood sugar so you don’t over eat later in the day (you’ll feel fuller longer).

General health

10. Bread and rolls are first on the list of “The Salty Six” foods listed by the American Heart Association. Sandwiches are on the list, too, as the combination of bread, cheese and all the condiments alone can put you over the daily recommend sodium intake of 1500mg.

11. An apple a day keeps the cravings away – the fiber-packed pectin in the apple and its skin make them a tasty, filling snack. Honey Crips (my fave!) are still in season at the winter farmer’s markets.

12. Trying to eat gluten-free? Check your condiments – soy sauce and barbecue sauce are among the most popular condiments that contain gluten.

13. Digestion increases your heart rate so avoid eating right before bed – finish your last meal roughly 2 hours before bed to get a restful night’s sleep. I’ve noticed that whenever I eat late I have crazy nightmares! Does that happen to you too? Increased heart rate and jacked up adrenaline from late night digestion = nightmares 🙁

14. (a few) Complete sources of plant-based protein – quinoa, buckwheat, rice and beans together, hemp

15. Complete sources of animal protein – meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy

16. My mom always told me, “Don’t drink your calories.” She was right! The added sugar in sports drinks, flavored coffee, energy drinks and other not-so-healthy “healthy” drinks really adds up. Go for cold, plain or infused water and ditch the empty calories.

17. Pick dark leafy greens over iceberg lettuce and dark berries over more water-based fruits like melons to fill up on nutrients and antioxidants.

18. Eat the yolks – Not only are they yummy and filling but egg yolks contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals – vitamin A, D, E, B12 and K, folate and iron to name a few. Their bad rap comes from the cholesterol the yolk contains but eating cholesterol doesn’t raise your cholesterol and in fact, cholesterol is important for muscular development.

Meal prep

19. Cook and eat at home to control portion sizes, reduce sodium and sugar intake and avoid over eating. You just never know how that seemingly “healthy” take-out food was prepared…

20. Beans can replace flour in baking – try my Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownie recipe.