You’ve made the decision to make some changes to your eating habits, now where do you start?
Should you choose a specific diet plan like Keto, Paleo, or Whole 30?
How much should you eat every day?
What should you cook?
Do you have to make all your own meals, or can you still eat healthy while eating out?
Here's how we start all our clients when they decide to make a change to their eating habits.
Why do you want to change?
Figure out why you want to make changes to your eating.
Are you trying to improve specific health metrics like high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
Do you want to lose body fat?
Add muscle mass?
Run a marathon or improve your sports performance?
Knowing your why will help you narrow down the food choices you will need to make and how strict you will need to be with your routine.
Make a list of what you like, healthy eating isn’t restriction
If you’ve ever tried dieting before, then you know forcing a ton of restrictions on your eating habits isn’t very fun, in fact it pretty much sucks. The amount of suck usually determines how long you’re able to stick with your diet. In my experience, with thousands of clients, it’s usually not very long.
So, if you’re going to make these changes last, you need to be eating foods you enjoy. Start off by making a list with four categories: Protein, Carbs, Fats, and Veggies. Rank the foods you know you already like in each category and add in a couple that you’re unfamiliar with and would like to try.
BOOM! You’ve successfully created your grocery list. That was easier than you thought, wasn’t it?
Now when you go to cook, all you have to do is choose an item from each category and you’ve got a straightforward, easy to prep meal.
Determine your portion size and eat to 80% full
You don’t need a PhD or some crazy formula to figure out how much you should be eating and it’s not very fun to meticulously count out how many almonds you’re allowed to eat to reach your calorie goal.
Healthy eating isn’t calorie expertise nor is it science overload. Keep things simple, use common sense, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
That said, I do find it helpful to have a basic idea of my portion sizes for each of the four categories so I know how much I need to cook for my meals. But even if you don’t have a perfectly balanced meal in front of you, you can still eat until you’re satisfied, but not stuffed.
Here’s an idea of what portion sizes generally look like.
Don’t forget about that commonsense piece. If you’re biking 50 miles every day adjust your portion sizes up, if you’re trying to lose some fat, adjust your portion sizes down.
Above all else, learn to listen to your body. Eating when hungry and stopping when comfortable makes sense to our emotional brain, it feels good, and it keeps us lean.
It may not be foodgasmic but it doesn’t have to be boring
Let’s face it, steamed broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice tastes good, but it is never going to match up to that chocolate donut. The problem is that most of us have calibrated our tastes buds to the chocolate donut so when it comes time for broccoli, we leave it sitting on the plate. If you eat each meal expecting chocolate donut, then you’re in for a future filled with disappointment.
Food should still be good, and satisfying, and “eating healthy” doesn’t have to mean your food should taste like cardboard. Add spices, add seasonings, challenge your cooking skills, and buy yourself a cookbook.
Healthy eating isn’t easy but doesn’t take perfection.
If today is the first day you’ve decided to make a change and chose steamed broccoli over chocolate donuts, then congrats, your journey has started. Now you just have to overcome your current eating habits, preconceived notions, family, friends, media, restaurants, and food experts. Good luck!
Don’t freak out just yet. Just like most things, healthy eating gets easier the more you work on it. Your grocery shopping improves, your food choices improve, your cooking skills improve. Practice makes permanent, and eventually you won’t have to think about every decision, you’ll just do it.
Remember, things don’t always go as planned.
You might get invited to a party.
It could be date night.
You might forget to go to the grocery store.
Your kids might get sick.
Forget about trying to follow a perfect meal plan, just do your best with the options available. Life happens.
Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?
Most of us know that eating well, regular activity, and managing our sleep and stress levels are important for a healthy life. Still, we struggle to apply that information into our already busy lives. That's why the Active Wave coaching programs help you create a strategy to lose fat, get stronger, and improve your health, all in the context of your own life. We know that's the only way to keep those changes for good, no matter what situation you're in. If you'd like to chat about how you can start to change your life and reach your health and fitness goals, book a free, 10 minute call with one of our coaches today!