First of all, lets outline that I call them ideas. Nutrition is really individualized. What works for someone else may not work for you. All of us burn calories differently. A lot of it depends on genetics and then even more depends on our activities, lifestyles, and preferences. There is no “one size fits all”.
I want to give you a few basics today that will only get us started. Later I will delve deep into the what I do eat vs what I don’t and why, but today I think basics and tools are the foundation of what builds a habit and makes things simple.
- The main tool you have to have – at least in the beginning – is a method of tracking what you eat. There is a reason why every single fitness and nutritionist out there tells you to do this. It makes you come to terms with what you are putting into your body. However, that does not mean it will prevent a slip-up or even a binge BUT I say log it all and take a hard look at your calories in and then you have a way to focus on correcting the things you have control of.For me, I have obviously used the Weight Watchers Points Tracker but I tend now to stick mostly with MyFitnessPal because its free and I can review nutrition breakdowns if I want to – and I do! I also like MyFitnessPal because the log is pretty comprehensive and I can use a barcode scanner, making the logging very quick – no reason to say its too much work!And yes – pen and paper is still a great method as well. Just be sure you find an accurate way to find the calories.
- Measure your food and if you don’t, buy single serving sizes. This keeps tracking easy and accurate. It also makes you take a hard look at what you should really consider a serving to be vs what say a restaurant is serving. We have been told to go to restaurants where you get the most for your money but really we shouldn’t – we should go where the quality of the food is better and the portions are accurate for what you are going to be eating. Sorry “never-ending” insert food here – I’m not interested.
- Make your food vs eating out. A lot of people say they have zero time to make food and have to eat on the go. I get it – I usually leave the house by 8 am and don’t get home until 8pm but I still make 2 out of my 3 meals each day. I feel better knowing what goes into each meal and I know the quality of the ingredients are those that are fresher and less processed. Having go to items and recipes on hand is key. I love roasting veggies with a chicken sausage – I always have both on hand – variety of veggies change but always on hand. So when I get home later, 5 minutes of prep and 25 minutes in the oven (where I read mail, put away clothes, etc), I have a healthy solid meal. It doesn’t have to be hard – just tasty.
- Choose fresh food over processed every chance you get. I very rarely have any use for those middle aisles anymore at the grocery store, tending to keep to the outside. I have learned through cooking my own food that the processed items in those middle aisles do not give me the energy I need to make it through intense workouts and long days in NYC. I want quality cheese, fresh vegetables, etc. I don’t want sodium filled “helper” this or “sugar added” that. Flavors can be built natural without adding preservatives and added unknowns. When you do buy some of those prepared kits or meals, make sure you know what is in them. A lot of the frozen meals have come a long way as they have learned that the target customers are more conscientious of their ingredients so I will buy those if a deal arises.
- Balance meals by always having a carb with a protein/healthy fat. I want to only touch on this now but the long and short of this is if you have an apple, have a stick of string cheese or peanut butter with it. It will keep your body from craving more sugar and causing more “hunger” in an hour. I will expand on this topic later because its important but just know if you have pasta, get the meat sauce, or if you have rice, add an egg. Trust me!
- Move every day and find a method to look at what your activity levels are like and have it “talk” or “sync” with your food tracking method. I recently bought a Fitbit but have used many other apps and devices. Apple health always tracks my steps as long as I have my phone on me. Free apps like, Mapmyrun, are also great as they often also sync with your tracking methods if you choose to go the electronic vs. pen and paper route.
There is so much more I could add here but I don’t want to overload but start slow. These few basic ideas are enough to get us on the right path.
I have been tracking food everyday for years now. Its just a check in and not a mandatory lockdown on what I can or can’t eat. If I over indulge I recognize it and the next day is a clean slate or if there is more time in the day, a short work out might help mitigate some of the poor choices. Having the tools work together and your mind focused and being healthy and happy, all of this becomes natural and easy.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and changing our habits won’t happen in a day either but it will happen if we dream it and want it.