Everyone knows what to eat, but not how to make it a reality
That’s right, you already know what to do.
The limiting factor is seldom information.
Where people get stuck is in crossing the gap between knowing and consistently doing things.
It’s not that you don’t need any guidance, but if I asked you what 2-3 things you should probably change about your diet, you’d probably list a few of the following:
- Eat less sugar (treats, alcohol, candy, baked goods, etc)
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Eat out less and cook more
- Eat more consistently throughout the day
Nobody knows your body and your lifestyle better than you. You can probably come up with some great solutions for things that are really important for you to do.
In fact, you’ve probably already done that. Most people have a list of things in the back of their mind that they should be doing more. When it comes to nutrition, it’s often similar to the list above.
The trick to making a lasting change; a change that doesn’t feel like making yourself go to the dentist each week for a root canal, is to break it down into specific actionable steps, and then slowly introduce it into your lifestyle.
Any successful nutrition plan follows a few guidelines:
- Protein – 1-2 palms with every meal
- Fats – 1-2 thumbs each meal
- Carbs – smart carbs – 1 cupped handful – 1-2x per day
- Fruit and veggies – 1-2 fists each meal
- Eat slowly and be mindful of fullness
I’m guessing your rolling your eyes right about now.
If you did those five things 90% of the time, all changes from there would be fine-tuning – small changes based on body type, personal preferences, food intolerances/allergies, and activity level.
Here’s an eye-opening exercise to try: Write down your own diet for a week and see how often you follow these guidelines.
How to make changes – one thing at a time
Knowledge of “what” to eat is never the limiting factor; “how” to eat a healthy and enjoyable diet is the struggle.
We focus on helping our clients make one change at a time. By focusing on a single task, people can devote a significant amount of energy into figuring out how to create that change within the context of their life.
When someone needs direction, we work with them on this single area until they have it mastered. With only five primary habits it doesn’t take too long to help a client dial in their diet – and they never feel overwhelmed, restricted, or “punished”.
Diets don’t stick in the long-term, lifestyle changes do.
You have to give something up in order to add something
You might be saying something like “So, it’s as easy as focusing on one thing at a time, that’s not that hard. “
Well, that’s not quite true.
The main problem people run into is giving something up.
In order to add something to your life (more cooking, shopping, food prep, etc) you have to give something up.
Our clients were filling up their 24 hours before we met them, so in order to add a new activity to their lives they have to give something up. That could be reducing the time spent:
- Watching TV
- On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc
- Texting or talking on the phone
- Anything else that is generally “time filler” type activities
It doesn’t really matter, but you will have to cut something.
The first thing we have our clients do is a time inventory: they write down everything they spend time on for three days. Once they have this list we ask them what item they could reduce or give up in order to fit their new nutrition-related behavior in.
Food has to taste good and you have to enjoy the process
The final and most important piece of the puzzle is what you’re actually eating – not the macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats), but what food tastes like. If it’s not enjoyable, it’s not sustainable.
So, we focus on three primary areas of healthy eating:
- Cooking – You’re going to have to cook, or hire a chef. Not many people can afford the chef. Like any skill, cooking can be learned and streamlined so that making healthy and tasty food becomes an easy, normal part of life.
- Pre-made meals – There are a lot of healthy options these days for premade meals. These are helpful because they cut out many of the normal steps involved with cooking our meals. Some services deliver pre-packaged meals that you cook. Others offer cooked meals. Both can be good options depending on your needs.
- Healthy restaurant options – It happens to all of us. We get busy and have to eat out, or we just enjoy hitting up restaurants. Regardless, everyone has to learn how to make better choices at restaurants. Better, not perfect, is the key here. You still get to eat delicious and “unhealthy” food, just in moderation.
I hope this overview gives you some guidelines to follow in your own quest for a healthier diet. Eating well doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming, but making a change in that direction will take time and energy. With the right path, it becomes a clear series of small, learn-able steps.