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Friday, January 10, 2014

Part III: Nutrition Planning

 Last post on planning for a change! Nutrition. 

I saved the most difficult for last. I really haven’t been looking forward to writing this one. Folks get so mired down in the details when you discuss “diets.” I get it. I’ve been there a bazillion times. You think if you can get that magic diet it will finally solve all your problems. Fact is, often times we know what to eat, we just don’t want to.  


So let’s keep this short and sweet. 

Here are my top 5 suggestions for working on your nutrition.

1.       Think about addition not subtraction. It’s easier to make a new positive habit than it is to break an existing bad habit. So add one good thing to your diet. It might be drinking 8 glasses of water or adding a serving of veggies daily. Keep that up for a week or two and then add something else. After a while the good additions will begin to crowd out the less desirable habits.  Go slow,  but go. 

2.      Eat plenty of protein. A lot of “fitness” related diets recommend 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight. For me that is almost impossible to hit and not necessary. I generally get between 75 and 100 grams per day but don’t stress if I get less. As far as I can tell I haven’t lost any muscle mass and my strength has continued to increase. I just try to have a little protein with every meal and snack. Protein curbs your hunger so you feel full longer. So it helps dampen cravings. Generally speaking, good quality protein is relatively low in calories per portion size so you have a hard time over-eating it. 

3.       Watch your energy levels. When I was dieting, I always went for the most extreme diet thinking that it was going to give me the best results. So I’ve gone from mostly carbs to no carbs and what I learned was my best diet lies in the middle. Duh! Mostly protein (Adkins) and I get headachy, cranky, low energy and miserable. Mostly carbs and I get bloated, cranky and my cravings go berserk.  So I mix the best of both worlds. That sweet spot where I have great energy combines protein, carbs in the forms of veggies and fruit and a little starchy carbs and lots of good fat. I might have a serving of the starchy carbs a day or I might have just a few bites. It depends on how much energy I anticipate needing to produce. If I’m CrossFitting or have a competition that day or the next, you better believe I’ll eat a little more starchy carb. It translates into better performance for me every time. 

4.      Unprocessed food is superior. Packaged and boxed food has been so manipulated and mutilated by the manufacturing process that little good is left in it. Think about white flour. The ingredients list the word “Enriched.” Why does it need to be enriched? Because all the best has been stripped out of it in the manufacturing process. Do I eat some processed food? Yes, but a relatively low amount. I do have packaged bread every morning and often greek yogurt and from time to time I’ve been known to eat a cupcake or donut or even Taco Bell.  But I try to stick in an 80/20 area. I eat as unprocessed as possible 80 percent of the time. The other 20 is whatever I want. 

5.       Be your own guinea pig. Just like exercise, one size does not fit all. Try things out and if it doesn’t work, adjust. Eat foods you like. “But I don’t like veggies!” Have you tried all the veggies? Have you tried all the veggies prepared in all the ways possible? I didn’t think so. Experiment! And honestly, sometimes I don’t like being an adult. But guess what, I am so I have to make uncomfortable decisions from time to time to do what is best for me or those around me. Children live in ignorant bliss. Not grown adults. Have you heard the phrase, “Embrace the suck!” Embrace it and really before very long at all you will be one with it. It won’t bother you as much. 

6.      BONUS* Eat more. Eating too little food is a sure recipe for failure. Sure you can lose weight for a while, but what kind of weight are you losing? Probably water and muscle. Muscle is the engine that burns up the calories and fat so if you lose it, you burn less. When you cut your intake, your body goes into survival mode and shuts down your metabolism in an effort to keep your body where it is. Feed your body and your metabolism revs up. I really like this article from Built Daily on Binge Eating. It does a great job of explaining why you should eat and how that can actually give you control over your hunger. Another source that I really like is a book called Diet Recovery by Matt Stone. Very informative on how eating more may be the answer for you especially if you have been in the deprivation dieting cycle.  

Of course we could list several more things but this is a good place to start. Be kind to yourself and patient. It is so very hard to change. But it can be done with a positive attitude. 

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