When it comes to healthy eating, the multitude of messages out there can make it difficult to know where to turn and whose word to trust.

Discerning the facts from the marketing labels also can be overwhelming. It is easy to look at someone who has experienced a health transformation and want to do exactly what he or she did in order to receive the same results.

But the truth is, every body is different. There is no “one size fits all” diet plan. Every person’s body has its own characteristics that make each of us unique.

Let’s take gluten for example. You may not have any sensitivity to gluten, but it causes some to become violently ill. With the rising popularity of gluten-free foods, companies began marketing everything they could as “gluten-free” because many consumers translate the label to mean healthier, right?

Unfortunately, this translation is not necessarily accurate. Simply taking gluten out of an Oreo does not make the cookie the equivalent of an apple. After all, even without gluten, Oreos are still high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Do these ingredients make Oreos a “bad” food you should never consume? Not necessarily. There are better ways to set someone up for success than labeling foods as “bad.” Instead, evaluate foods according to whether they give your body energy or deplete your body of energy.

Energy-giving Foods

So, what are energy-giving foods? Let’s look at how they affect your body. When a person eats a refined carbohydrate like white bread, chips, pretzels, crackers, candy bars, pancakes, etc., the body breaks it down as sugar through the digestive system.

As blood sugar levels rise, the body produces insulin, a hormone that allows cells in the body to absorb sugar for energy. Essentially, we want our bodies to maintain a steady blood sugar level rather than to experience big spikes and huge drops.

This maintenance will allow us to stay fuller longer and have more energy. Who doesn’t want that?

Eat Real Foods

It seems simple, but what does this approach look like on a day-to-day basis?

Try eating real, whole foods like apples, carrots and nuts rather than packaged, processed foods like chips and crackers. Remember, even if the package says that it is low-calorie, the label does not necessarily mean the food is the most energy-efficient for your body.

Check the grams of sugar in each serving or see if you can understand each of the ingredients listed. Those are easy ways to empower your healthy decision-making. And remember, when in doubt, choose real foods.

Here are some easy, on-the-go snacks that are simple to prepare and will keep you full and satisfied while giving you the energy you need to tackle the day ahead:

•Hummus and veggies.

•Half an apple with almond butter.

•Two hard-boiled eggs plus Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning.

•Peanut butter bites (recipe below).

•Veggie and protein smoothie (recipe below).

•Workout brownie (recipe below).

Peanut Butter Bites

•2 heaping T organic peanut butter

•2 heaping T organic almond or cashew butter

•½ c PB2 or PBFit

•¼ c unsweetened almond milk

•¼ c dark chocolate chips

Place almond butter, peanut butter and PB2 in large mixing bowl.

Slowly add unsweetened almond milk and mix until you reach a smooth peanut butter texture. Fold in dark chocolate chips.

Form into 9-12 round bites, refrigerate and enjoy.

Veggie & Protein Smoothie

•1 scoop Vega protein powder

•2 T Acai Superfood

•2 T PB2

•Handful of spinach

•Unsweetened almond milk


Workout Brownie

•1 can pumpkin puree

•½-1 c unsweetened almond milk

•1/3 c nut butter of choice

•1/3 c PB2

•1/3 c special dark cocoa powder

•Dash of honey or agave

Mix and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on how gooey you like them.

Becca McCormack started teaching fitness classes at the end of high school. She has been trained under The Cooper Institute, SCW Fitness, TRX Suspension Training and Schwinn Cycling. She and her husband, Clark, took a leap of faith and opened Refine31 indoor cycling and barre studio in Waco.