What is good nutrition is one of the most difficult yet easy questions to answer. There are so many accounts, pages, programs, and people out there that say they have the answer. Drop 30 pounds in a week! Look like that movie star in 30 days! We see it and hear it every day, but what they are really saying is give me your money, crash diet on this program, see “results”, and then end up losing your results only to leave you wondering what happened or finding the next thing out there. It is a crazy cycle!
Nutrition does not have to be hard! Instead it should be delicious and easy! Now not all programs out there are as bad as I made them sound above, but a lot of them are, and that is why it is important to understand what good nutrition is in order to identify and make the proper healthy choices for yourself.
The basis of nutrition is to eat real whole foods that supports your activity levels. As CrossFit defines it: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seed, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”
But what does that mean for us?
Well, to start, eating real whole foods is just a matter of proper food choices. The best way I like to explain this to people at the start is do your shopping on the perimeter of the super market. If you think about it, all the good stuff is located on the perimeter, and in the middle is all the processed sugary junk (mostly). Next time you are in the super market walk the perimeter first. You will see produce or your fruits and vegetables, meats, nuts, and dairy. This is the foundation of a healthy diet. It is when we start snacking on the sugary processed foods in the middle because we are short on time, or looking for a quick fix to our snacking hunger is when we get into trouble. Your body craves the good food!
The goal is to build healthy habits off of these foundations. This is a huge starting point, and before we get into how much to eat exactly, we need to start building the habits of eating and eating well. But how?
To start, try this. Think about what you eat during the course of a day or week. Write it down so you can physically see what it is, even those little snacks that might not amount to much. From here we can start locating problem areas, and correct them or fill them in with good nutritional choices. Substitute the bag of chips for a piece of fruit. Plan on a well-balanced breakfast instead of the quick muffin or bagel. Plan them out and find something that works and that you enjoy! You cannot build sustainable habits by eating stuff that you do not enjoy, and I promise there are so many good simple recipes out there that make eating well-balanced whole foods extremely delicious.
See the goal here is to rebuild a foundation that you can sustain for the long run. You NEED TO EAT, and there is no simple quick fix to “diet.” You need to get in the habit of feeding your body with things that will let it thrive. If it is hard or not appetizing, then what is your motivation to continue to do it and stay consistent? The quick fix programs force you to suffer for a short period of time, but with no plan to sustain for the future. They make you crave more! And finally, when you treat yourself to a “cheat meal” it brings back the things that you are used to doing because you have no other habits to take precedence.
My goal for nutrition is to develop something you like that makes dieting simple. You will be surprised at the changes your body will make when it gets fed and fueled properly! Overtime it should no longer be considered a diet, and just become a part of your life.
So, try it yourself. Start taking a look at what you are eating. Can you make a better choice and substitute with a better choice? Start small! Try replacing 1 snack or 1 meal at a time, and stay consistent. Building this foundation is a beautiful start to a long healthy life with a body that will deliver for you for years and years to come.