What makes us gain unwanted belly fat? What helps us build lean muscle? What affects our hormones and organ health? The answer is all the same; our nutritional behaviors.
Our Nutritional Behaviors are influenced by our dietary needs, habits we built growing up, and our environment. Understanding these few things can help us make better choices in our daily nutrition.
We all have to eat. Knowing what to eat is half the battle, while making ourselves eat the right things is the other half. Here are some simple tips how to make your nutrition better.
Cravings and Portions
Sometimes we make choices based on these cravings that we know are counter-productive to our health. Learning how to curb these cravings and make healthier choices are the first step to better health.
A piece of chocolate or a slice of pizza is not the end of the world; however, eating in excess all the time can ruin your body. You can still have some treats if you pay attention to your portions and don’t overdo it.
Food labels are only as reliable as your measuring skills and self-accountability. To keep an accurate accounting of your intake, you need to measure and weigh your foods. You also must be honest with yourself; many people sabotage their diets by “forgetting” they ate an extra bowl of cereal or glass of wine.
Labels list off the basic information about the nutritional content of the food. Keeping an accounting of these can help you maintain your weight. Whether your goals are to lose weight or gain mass, it always comes down to calories. While there are many formulas that can help you estimate your calorie needs, a more realistic way is if you have been maintaining your weight for a while, keep a food journal for a week or two and calculate the daily average. If you want to lose weight, cut back portions by 10%-20%. If you want to gain mass, increasing calorie portions by 10% can help you gain lean mass.
People are always looking for a scapegoat as to why they are overweight, and whether it is excess carbs or fats you still need both [in the right amounts] to be healthy. Focusing on meeting your individual protein needs while maintaining your daily calorie limits is a simple way to inadvertently guide your food choices to be better and keep you from eating in excess.
Planning and Preparation
Have you ever planned to eat healthy, but then the office ordered lunch? How about planning to eat a healthy breakfast only to wake up late and miss out? This is where planning and preparation come into play.
Make a meal schedule for yourself and stick to it. Consistency over a long period of time is the way to success.
Spend time preparing your meals ahead of time, and have contingencies for if you run into problems.
Recognizing your personal habits, both bad and good can help you be successful long term. Accepting that a behavior needs to be changed is a huge step towards success. Mapping out a plan to change that habit starts with Goal Setting.
Once you have identified the habit you want to change, think about the smallest thing you can do each day to change the habit and make your life better. Something as simple as cutting back on junk food or making sure to eat lean protein each meal can make a big impact on your health.
We are all influenced by our surroundings. Some environments are toxic. Whether it’s family, coworkers, or social events, they can all ruin your chances at a healthy diet. While it’s not always possible to eliminate these factors, it is possible to lessen their impact on your life.
Family & Friends
Most families and friends will support your choice in eating healthier, and having them on your side can give you social support you will need to succeed. Spend time and talk with them about your decision, and let them help you make better choices. Heck, they may join you on your journey for better health.
Whether it’s a tight work schedule, lunch being ordered in, or stress in general, people’s work always causes friction with their diet. Simply by planning ahead and prepping your meals can help you overcome these obstacles.
Don't Overthink Your Nutrition
Many people overthink nutrition. With all the contradictory information out there, the solution is to “Keep It Simple”. Figure out and stick to your Calorie and Protein needs. Eat plenty of lean proteins, fibrous vegetables and fruits, take in some healthy fats, and enjoy yourself every now and then.
If you are still having trouble meeting your goals or if you have specific medical needs, meeting with a licensed dietitian can help you make progress.