Nutrition Do-Over… Where to Start When You’re Feeling Lost with Food.
Coming off an unsuccessful dieting streak or looking for structure after an extended bout of mindless eating or over-indulgence?
It’s tempting to succumb to the neatness of a shiny new fad diet.
I get it, I really do. Keto, Intermittent Fasting, Noom, Weight Watchers, Ideal Protein, Carnivore… They’re all promising the same thing - quick results.
Instead, what I’m urging you to consider is coaxing yourself back to the basics and applying patience. Now, you’re probably thinking “well the basics don’t work for me” and I want you to seriously challenge that thought.
Does it really not work for you or are you expecting results in 3-days time?
Step 1: Set the right expectation when it comes to how long it actually takes to see changes. Whether you’re working on building new healthy behaviors or striving for sustainable fat loss you’re playing the LONG GAME. We’re talking weeks, months, and sometimes years - not days.
Step 2: Eat every 3-5 hours (aka meal frequency).
This will help stabilize blood sugar, prevent cravings, and provide frequent opportunities for fueling throughout the day.
If this is something you struggle with, then try creating a few alarms on your phone that go off every 3-4 hours during the day. When they do, use it as a friendly reminder to nourish yourself with a snack or a meal.
Another thing to note is that difficulty sensing your hunger cues can be a common symptom of chronic dieting and/or appetite suppression. Many clients I’ve worked with over the years have trouble eating consistently because they complain that they ‘just aren’t hungry’. If this sounds all too familiar, then I would encourage you to try to eat at regular intervals regardless of how grumbly your stomach feels. Become a scientist of your own food behavior and see how eating regularly impacts things like your energy, mood, and cravings. If energy is good, mood is stable and cravings are low - it’s working! Keep going.
My best advice regarding WHAT to eat is to start simple and don’t over complicate it. Choose foods that you like and that are easy for you to incorporate at regular intervals. Greek yogurts, fruits, protein bars, hard boiled eggs, jerky sticks, and veggies paired with your favorite dip are all easy ways to sneak in quality nutrition.
Step 3: Aim for balanced meals the majority of the time
THIS tends to be the more difficult one for people. “Balanced meals” is a term that’s thrown around quite a bit in the health and wellness space so let’s break down what it means.
Balanced meals are those that contain a protein, a carb (starch), a fat and some color (veggie or fruit).
An example of an imbalanced meal might look like toast alone (carb). This type of meal tends to fill you up for less time and leave you hungry sooner rather than later. It’s not as effective at balancing blood sugar and can therefore lead to more snacking throughout the day.
A balanced meal looks like toast with an egg, a slice of cheese, and some berries (carb, protein, fat, and color). This type of meal may seem like MORE food in the short term, but it will help keep you feeling fuller longer, which means LESS snacking (and calories) overall.
It takes a minor shift in thinking… Instead of “being good” and ordering a salad for lunch with no protein, no croutons, and no dressing. Take that wonderful base of veggies and think about how you can incorporate a protein (fish, chicken, tofu, or steak), a carbohydrate (a fruit, bread, or grain), and a fat (dressing, avocado, bacon bits, or cheese).
More nutrient dense meals means better control over your appetite and less ravenous hunger or mindless snacking.
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Email me at MarissaSommersRD@gmail.com