You can research nutrition ‘til you’re blue in the face (and of course I advocate educating yourself) but the term paralysis by analysis is no joke. While it’s great to be informed, most of us overlook the big ticket items that would have the biggest impact on our health.
Until you are doing (or not doing) almost all of these things, almost all of the time, don’t stress about the other stuff and instead, focus on making these consistent habits.
- Eat slowly and stop before you’re stuffed. Take the time to enjoy your meals: have conversations in between bites, chew thoroughly, put your fork down, take sips of water. The slower you eat, the more in tune you can be to your body’s hunger cues. When you feel satisfied, not stuffed, stop eating. Don’t concern yourself with how much is left on your plate; you can always eat it later.
- Cut out as many processed foods as you can* (*read: are willing, because you are capable of eliminating them entirely). If it’s got a label and a laundry list of ingredients, it’s probably not your best choice.
- Eat protein at every meal. This applies whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, Paleo, cannibal, or follow the S.A.D. (is it telling or what that that’s the acronym for Standard American Diet?). A good rule of thumb is a fist-sized portion for women and two for men (I guess rule of fist would have been more accurate).
- Unless you’ve just worked out, fill the majority of the rest of your plate with veggies. Eat the rainbow. Taste the rainbow. (Credit: Skittles. Also, don’t eat Skittles).
- Save carbs such as starchy vegetables for post-workout.
- Cap that meal off with healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado). About a thumb’s worth is a serving. (There’s your anatomically correct rule of thumb).
- Don’t drink your calories unless you’re willing to not eat them. (And that’s not recommended). This goes for booze, soda, and fruit juices.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where you’ll find the protein and produce that should be making up the bulk of your diet. If you don’t venture into the processed food shelves, you won’t buy processed foods, and then you won’t eat them. Similarly, if you do buy fresh foods with shorter shelf lives, you have even more incentive to actually eat them before they go to waste.
- Plan ahead. Spend time each week preparing meals in advance. At its simplest, you can make big batches of protein, veggies, starchy carbs (for post-workout), and have healthy fats on hand to mix and match to piece together your meals. Also identify and strategize for meals you’ll be eating at restaurants, and solutions for times that you may need something quick to grab-n-go.
- Indulge intentionally and moderately (but also read this). The best diet is the one that you can sustain for a lifetime, which means not denying yourself foods that you really enjoy. However, when you do indulge, do it on purpose and when it’s really worth it. When you do, stay conscious of when you stop enjoying it as much as you did the first bite; that’s your cue to stop.
If you need help with any number of these, or if you feel like you do all of the above and still aren’t reaching your goals, check out my coaching services or contact me to see how I can help!