So you know lots about nutrition? Big whoop!
Knowing is way different than doing.
The research is pretty clear that being well educated on what foods you should eat has a pretty minimal impact on what you actually will eat.
My job as a nutrition coach is not about calculating ideal micro nutrient ratios and formulating the perfect concoction of foods to get clients results. I’ll leave that for the people in lab coats.
It’s my job to create behavior change. Real lifestyle changes that are simple enough to stick with, but still get great results!
Here are 3 habit based nutrition strategies that go beyond saying “eat more veggies”. They will all seem pretty common sense, but I bet that you don’t do all of them!
Habit #1- Make the good food easier to access than the junk food.
Reading readers digest the other day, I found this golden nugget:
The average woman who kept potato chips on the counter weighed 8 lbs more than her neighbor who didn’t. Those who had even one box of breakfast cereal that was visible weighed 21 lbs more than their neighbors who didn’t.
What you see is what you eat.
Pretty simple. Hide the junk in the back of the cupboard (or better yet in the basement) so at least you need to go through some effort to get it. If it’s easy to eat, there is no reason NOT to eat it.
Move the fruits and veggies up to eye level in the fridge rather than hidden in the crisper at the bottom. They won’t go bad outside the crisper, because you will eat them sooner as you’ll be confronted by them every time you open the fridge.
Most people like the taste of junk food (myself included). If it’s easier to grab, and it tastes better, why would you ever grab the fruit from the fridge?
The goal is to make it as easy as possible to eat high quality food, so it doesn’t take as much will power and determination to get what your body craves.
Habit #2- Eat slowly with no distractions
Believe it or not, people were eating the correct amount of food long before myfitnesspal came into existence. I am actively against calorie counting in most cases. It’s a lot of work and mental energy for something that has a 20-25% margin of error.
Your body is pretty smart. It has 2 main mechanisms to tell you whether you are eating the right amount:
- Satiety (fullness)
If you eat slowly, and without distractions your body will do a good job telling you how much to eat.
Here’s what you need to do when it comes to meal time:
- Set the timer for 20-30 minutes
- Put your phone away
- Turn off the TV
- Sit at the table
- Chew your food slowly and savor it
- Enjoy conversation with family and friends
The relaxed pace turns off the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) response most of us live in throughout the entire day, and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ response.
This results in lower stress levels, and better food tolerance!
I’m no psychologist but slowing down from your hectic life and the constant need to be ‘plugged in’ for 20-30 minutes improves quality of life beyond a change in body-weight. Spend some time with your friends and family. Your relationships and mental health will thank you.
Habit #3-Plan your excursions to the center of the grocery store carefully
Pretty much every grocery store is laid out in the same way. The goal is for consumers to have to walk to all 4 corners of the store before leaving. That way everyone walks past as much merchandise as possible before leaving.
If you saunter up and down the center aisles, the odds are pretty high that something unhealthy will catch your eye.
All the healthy staples are around the outside. Fruits and veggies are in one corner. The bakery is in another. Meat is in another, and milk and eggs are inevitably the farthest thing from the entrance.
A quick trip to Google turned up this map which is a pretty good representation of the layout of my local store aside from the alcohol seen in the states:
Stick to the outside of the store when you are shopping, and make quick jaunts into the center aisles only for the things you need. If you are getting something from the middle section of the store, it should be on your shopping list prior to entering the store.
Remember the golden rule of nutrition. If it’s in the house, it will get eaten. The best place to make healthy choices is at the grocery store.
Habit #4 (Bonus) Surround yourself with good support
The people who you surround yourself with make all the difference when making healthy choices.
For more mentorship on habit based nutrition coaching book a free consultation and I’ll help you come up with a concrete plan of action to help you reach your goals.
For a starters guide to athletic nutrition, download our ‘21 Super foods and Athletic Meal guide‘ below. It’s 100% FREE!