When it comes to adopting healthier habits around nutrition people have a tendency to make things too complicated instead of as simple as possible.
Simplicity and the basics are really where 95% of progress is made for everyone. When something gets too complicated people become overwhelmed and revert back to old habits.
By focusing on these basics and getting them mastered you are setting the stage for a lifestyle change, not just going on another diet.
This week we are going to pick up where we left off covering the simple ways you can stick to healthier eating, and letting those habits turn into a lifestyle.
6. Keep Snacks On Hand
Being unprepared is a common excuse many folks make for eating foods that don’t support their goals, but this problem can be easily avoided.
We all know the options in the vending machine are not going to benefit your health in any way, and will likely lead to energy crashes and more sugar cravings.
The stress hormones released due to low blood sugar increase impulsive behavior, especially around foods along with mood swings.
In these moments people are more likely to go for sugar laden processed carbohydrates, because their brain recognizes that as a dense source of calories.
You can avoid this situation entirely by keeping a healthy stash of snacks in your desk and the center console of your car.
You don’t need to have half the grocery store with you but a few smart snacks to tide you over will remedy the extreme blood sugar or hunger swings.
Jerky, nuts and seeds, sardines, coconut chips, fruit and if you have a cooler you can bring hard boiled eggs, leftover meat and cut up vegetables.
7. Be Prepared Eating Out
Going out to eat can provide it’s own unique challenges to sticking with healthier eating as well, including the social pressure to indulge!
Before you go out to a restaurant take five minutes to look over their menu and see what items work for your current nutrition plan, and how some need to be tweaked to meet your needs.
When you get the restaurant don’t be afraid to ask questions and make special requests like exchanging rice/bread for extra veggies or getting a sauce/dressing on the side.
Let the waiter know that you realize some of these requests may cost extra and you are willing to pay for them.
This lets them know they will be compensated for going out of their way for your special request.
You would be surprised how much better the whole interaction goes by saying this upfront when making special requests.
Most places you attend will have salads, ask for olive oil and vinegar on the side. You can also likely find a plate that includes a protein source (chicken/steak/fish) and a vegetable (brussel sprouts/asparagus/green beans) and a starch (potatoes/rice/squash).
I have created a PDF guide to eating out that shows you how to adjust the menu at any style of restaurant. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with GUIDE TO DINING OUT In the subject line, and I’d be more than happy to send it to you!
8. Eat Slower
We rarely take the time to relax and eat in a mindful manner. There are so many different things competing for our attention, it is no wonder that people are staring at screens and not paying attention to their food or loved ones for that matter.
When you slow down and take the time to smell and and look at your food before eating it you all the body to enter the parasympathetic state also known as rest and digest.
Digestion begins in your brain by switching into this rest and digest mode which triggers the secretion of digestive juices in your stomach and readies to the body to digest food.
When you eat a meal, but are stressed your digestion is shut off. The fight or flight stress response causes blood to be directed away from the digestive system, and adequate digestive fluids are not secreted.
After digestion starts in your brain the next stop in the process is the mouth. By adequately chewing your food you mechanically and chemically break down foods better allowing less of the burden to be placed on the digestive system.
By chewing more thoroughly you allow adequate time for the gut to signal to the brain that you are full and well nourished. This in turn shuts hunger off in the brain and allows you to push the plate away.
This style of eating prevents you from eating too much because you’ve allow the digestive system and the brain to communicate in the way it was designed, rather than eating so quickly that you end up bloated and too full.
9. Change Takes Time
Regardless of what the health and fitness industry has told you nothing happens overnight and very few “hacks” actually work long term.
If there was a shortcut that was really effective, it wouldn’t be a shortcut it would just be the way that people do it.
Changing your habits is going to take time. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged when change doesn’t happen right away. You will need to put some work into it and show patience with the process.
They say it takes 28 days for a new habit to be formed. This doesn’t mean you won’t see changes before then, but for it to become part of your lifestyle and your new default you’ll need to work at it.
I don’t recommend people try to change too many habits at once. Too much change too soon ends up causing overwhelm and people revert back to their old default habits.
Focus on one habit every two to three weeks, and before you know it you will have made big changes, with half the stress of another crash diet.
10. Do What Works For You Personally!
There is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition. Everyone is a bio-individual and needs to see what works well for them personally.
Some people benefit from following a low carb diet while others do better eating more starches, that is up to you to decide.
As your spectrum of health changes, your diet might need to change too. What worked to restore your health might not be the same diet you need to follow to hit new goals.
Don’t be too dogmatic about the way you eat and I highly encourage you to become your own health expert because no one knows your needs and body like you.
I’m not saying don’t look for nutrition advice, but follow your own body’s cues as to how you look feel and perform.
Because a certain way of eating worked for a friend, nutrition leader or celebrity does not mean it will be the best nutrition strategy for you as well.
You’ll have to experiment to see what makes you look, feel and perform at your best but this is time well spent.
You never know what small tweaks to your nutrition could make big changes in how you feel and perform everyday!
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These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.