Today I expand a little on a topic I spoke of a few weeks ago jump starting your fit lifestyle. It’s not that I’m trying to be redundant, it’s just that food is intimately linked to your body shape and your health. Want to change your body? Then you MUST clean up your eating and embrace healthy eating habits.
Indeed a source of great pleasure for many people. From delicious smells, to evoking good memories, to luxurious textures, to unexpected flavors, to satisfying cravings, to tantalizing tastes, food seems to hold enormous powers of seduction over our ability to make choices that support our goals. But just because it has power doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t resist, or at least maintain the upper hand with regard to our choices. It only has power because we gave it to it in the first place. Good news – we can take it back.
What does eating well mean?
Now I get that the term eating well will mean something different to different people so I will define it here for my purpose (it is my blog after all). Eating well here implies making food choices that support three objectives: a well functioning body (health), a body composition in the desired range (look), and an ability to perform well in my physical pursuits (performance). The intersection of these objectives is where eating well happens – it’s what I call good nutrition. Yes, as goals change so does the profile. But what doesn’t vary is the mindset that food’s primary purpose is to provide the necessary building blocks for a healthy body to support a happy life. So many people become obsessed with how they look that they forget that food is there to nourish above all else. It is a distorted reality when people contemplate surgical procedures and risky diet aids rather than clean up their eating. So what exactly does clean eating entail?
Clean eating basics
Sometimes, it is helpful to define something by what it does NOT include. So eating well does not include mindless eating – or the action of putting food in your mouth without being conscious of it and without needing the nutrition or calories (i.e. snacking at social gatherings when you aren’t hungry comes to mind). It also doesn’t include bingeing of any kind, filling our stomachs with low nutrient-density foods (i.e. drinking sugar-filled juices, convenience snacks, highly processed foods), or repeatedly making unsupportive food choices because we’ve failed to plan in advance. A few more NOTs come to mind, but I think I’ll wait for another post since I’m hoping to present Basics here.
So while we’ll be looking at more detailed views on eating well in future posts, let’s review 3 Basics that everyone can adopt now: know what you eat, drink water, protein and veg at every meal.
- Know what you eat. More than 80% of successful body transformation participants used a food diary to keep track of their food intake. Why? Firstly it’s being mindful. No one truly knows how much they snack, or underestimate their portions or whatever until they write it down. Next, the simple act of having to record what you’ve eaten helps you make better choices later on (or ideally right on the spot). Lastly, you can’t change what you don’t know. Write it ALL down. Or better yet use a smart phone application – there are tons out there. Is it a pain in the butt? It sure is. But remember when you said you’d do anything to change your body…here is a simple, proven strategy that will deliver results. Stop whining and do it.
- Drink water. Your body is made of water and critical metabolic processes are facilitated by water. Plus it fills you up, controls hunger, helps flush out toxins, keeps your skin healthier (it’s the cheapest, effective anti-aging potion out there). Even low levels of dehydration have shown to decrease performance. Drink at least 2L per day of water. Don’t like it? Too bad. Do you like your body more than you dislike water? Find a way to drink it. Add some fresh lemon, orange slices, cucumber or apple slices, maybe some mint. Whatever. Just drink it.
- Protein and veggies at every meal. Paleo folks love me for this, but it’s really not so much about wanting you to eat more protein for the sake of it – it’s about the fact that protein takes more time to digest so it keeps you fuller and bodies use proteins as building blocks. Keep portions the size of your palm. Veggies are all about high nutrition, low calorie options. The more veggies you eat, you get fantastic nutritional bang for your buck, while leaving a little less room for higher calorie carbohydrates like grains and legumes. Shoot for at least 2 servings of veggies with every meal – yes, breakfast too (I had broccoli and mushrooms in my omelette this morning).
Decide if changing your body is important. Decide if the eating habits you may be teaching your children is important. If they are, then act. If not, then don’t feign surprise when your body stays the same or things get worse. The best time to start eating well was likely some time ago. But that’s ok since the next best time to start is right now.