Ah the power of clarity. The first step in making a change with your nutrition is getting honest with yourself and nothing is more powerful than the mighty food log. I hope the previous 5 days brought you a new level of consciousness about what you put in your mouth, when you eat and what you do eat.
So now that you have some clarity we need to create a real understanding of what to do next. Knowledge is power but only if you have the wisdom to know how to implement it.
# 3 Be Your Own Nutritional Detective
Where can you make improvements? Focus on what you can ADD to increase the quality of your nutrition and not what you need to stop eating. The goal is to keep you moving in the direction of how you want to feel and I bet, like me, deprived and restricted aren’t on your list. In my experience, the transition of letting go and creating moderation is met with less resistance when you start feeling the way you want to feel because of the positive changes you made.
Making changes without feeling deprived diminishes the resistance to creating more change.
Take out your food journal and start answering the following questions:
1. How many times per day are you eating?
2. Do you have a true source protein at least 3 times per day?
3. How many servings of fruit do you eat in a day?
4. How many servings of vegetables do you eat in a day?
5. How many of those vegetable servings are dark green?
6. How often are you eating out?
7. Are you getting in your Omega 3’s (do you even know what Omega 3’s are?)
7. What are your current eating patterns (are you eating the majority of your calories early or late in the day)?
8. How many “fake” foods are you eating in a day (protein powder, bars, meal replacements etc)?
9. How much sugar and/or sweeteners are you using?
10. How much coffee / pop are you drinking?
11. How much of your food comes from the earth vs. from a package?
Your answers now become your personal blueprint for change. These will allow you to decide what positive nutritional changes you are going to put into place one step at a time.
Here are a few things to look for:
If you are only eating 2x per day aim to raise it to three and so on.
If you realize that true sources of protein are only turning up a few times a day, look at how you can increase that. There are many options for protein that are quick and easy including hard boiled eggs, non fat greek yogurt, cottage cheese curds, edemame, skim milk cheese, protein powder and elevate bars. You also have the option of chicken, beef, turkey, fish, pork that you can prepare in advance or you can eat on the run. You decide where to start, how much to start with and how much time and effort you are willing to put into your preparation time.
If vegetables are absent or lacking but you are a fruit junkie, switch the ratio’s around and your body will love you for it. Vegetables don’t contain the sugar that fruit does and are full of all the great vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. Adding one extra cup per day of a dark green leafy vegetable is a great place to start. Think of spinach, kale, collard, chard, asparagus and brussel sprouts. These are powerhouses in the vegetable world and nothing will make you look or feel better than eating them. Continue to look at increasing the rainbow of color found in a variety of veggies over time.
Eating out is a love of mine; however, not every meal eaten in a restaurant is about indulging and going for the gusto. Contrary to popular belief you can eat out and live a healthy lifestyle if you are willing to stay conscious and look for the healthy options, make adjustments and ask for what you want when ordering.
There are lots of options for healthy fats but the biggest omissions I see with clients are the Omega 3’s with fish and flax oil the gold star standard. Try getting in a minimum of 1 to 3 tsp every day if you are a woman and more than double that for a man. Yes you can also get in Omega 3’s by eating ground flax, fish, hemp hearts and walnuts to name a few but I advise all clients to get in some straight oil as well in either pill or pour form. Your hormones and your heart will love you for it not to mention the fat burning benefits of these gems.
For more info on the benefits on Omega 3’s click here.
Are you eating when your body needs energy or are you fueling up for a grueling evening of couch surfing? If you come home from work, have dinner and then continue to raid the snack cupboard for hours this is a habit worth unravelling. If you are eating enough during the day you should feel satisfied in the evening. Work on flipping your eating patterns around so your food supports your busy day and keep meals light in the evening. This is a simple change that always has a huge impact.
If most of your nutrition is coming from boxes or packages you can start to make choices to incorporate more foods from the earth. At the very least commit to reading labels and educate yourself about what is in your food, portion sizes and how much processing was involved in bringing it to a shelf near you. Same goes for nutritional supplements, if you are living off of protein shakes and bars make the conscious choice to add more real food. (If you are just starting to incorporate more protein in your meals, powders and bars can be a great launching point, however over time you do want to transition towards more “real” food).
The opportunities to create positive changes with your nutrition are endless and unique to each individual so use your answers as a starting point.
#4. Less is More
Now that you have some clarity on where you can improve, go ahead and write out a list of the changes you want to implement.
Commit to adding no more than ONE change strategy per week.
If you feel the familiar tug to turn up the intensity to make things happen faster remember this is about finding a new way, letting go of old patterns and allowing yourself to make smaller changes over a longer period to achieve more.
Give yourself permission to NOT add any additional changes until you feel you have mastered each one. Your change commitments are yours and only you can decide what pace feels right for you!
Reminder again to make sure your strategies are focused on adding value to your meals and NOT taking away or depriving yourself of anything. Let go of the familiar urgency that comes with typical ways of dieting that will pull you towards cutting down, cutting out or abstaining from foods.
For example you may make the simple commitment to eat 2 more servings of vegetables per day.
DO NOT ADD ANOTHER STRATEGY until you have consistently mastered this for 7 days.
#5 Top of Mind
Once you have decided on your nutritional strategies do everything you can to help yourself and SET REMINDERS.
When you are learning to stay conscious about a new habit you must keep it top of mind. Setting a reminder in your phone or in your daytimer is a great way to keep yourself accountable and keep your attention focused.
If you are able to implement ONE positive change per week until everything on your list has been checked off, you will have made a significant step in the direction of making lasting and impactful changes to your nutritional health in 2014!
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen” ~ John Wooden
CNC, CSNA, PN1, CPT