What do you think about when I ask about your nutrition habits?
Do you groan at the question, thinking that it might be better to avoid that topic altogether? Maybe you are eating pretty well, choosing to cook healthy recipes on a regular basis. Or maybe you downloaded my Meal Planning with Macros template and plan out each meal to match your nutrition plan.
When I talk about nutrition habits, I am referring to the basic guidelines that you follow at any meal. It’s your approach to food without a specific plan – what you naturally do. A habit you might have is to rush through your meals on your way out the door, looking for something you can eat in the least amount of time. Or you may have a habit of starting each day with a multivitamin and a glass of lemon water.
This is where you can run into trouble if you jump straight to following a specific diet or meal plan. Quite often, that level of structure and detailed planning can lead to feeling confused & overwhelmed.
That’s why, for the majority of my clients, we’re use a habit-based nutrition approach, which includes macro portions (instead of grams). This approach is most appropriate if:
- You are a “regular person” who wants to improve your health.
- You probably want to lose some weight and get in better shape.
- You consistently workout or train for a recreational sport. Running, triathlon, or getting stronger in the gym.
- Your diet and exercise habits are consistently good.
Meal planning and macro grams are an effective tool for advanced clients to reach a specific goal – like a physique competition or professional athlete training for an event. Once you finish that plan, most people fall back on their habits as they get back to “normal”. This often leads to regaining the weight and fat they worked so hard to lose during the diet period.
And that’s what I want to help you avoid!
When you take the time to change your habits, one at a time, that becomes your new normal. This allows you to reach and maintain your goals for a lifetime!
Top 5 Nutrition Habits
Now that you know a bit more about the difference between habit-based nutrition and meal plans, let’s talk about the top 5 habits that will help you improve your health and your body! You’ll notice we still talk about macronutrients in these habits, but in a different way!
And remember, the best way to make a change is to focus on one habit at a time — so don’t try to make all these changes at once! In the group coaching program, we work on habits (like these) for 2 weeks at a time before adding something new.
This sounds easy, but it is a tough habit for many of us (including me!). When you slow down when eating, you will likely see a difference in the foods you choose and how much you eat. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to recognize that it’s time to stop eating, so slowing down will help you keep in touch with what your body really needs.
Not only that, but slowing down also helps you better appreciate what you’re eating – which leads to a higher level of satisfaction with your food. And it can improve your digestion!
This simple habit takes some practice, but with so many benefits it will be worth it. Try eating with your non dominant hand, setting down your utensils between bites, and setting a timer to track your progress.
Protein at Each Meal
Protein is one of the three nutrients that your body needs in large amounts (called macronutrients). It is used for almost every metabolic process in your body. Eating more protein is also ideal for helping you stay leaner, improve muscle mass, maintain a strong immune system, and improve your athletic performance. Your body also burns more 30% more energy in digestion, absorption, and assimilation of protein. This is why weight loss is more than just calories in/calories out.
While most people think of protein in animal products – like meat, fish (affiliate), dairy, and eggs – there are also a number of plant-based protein sources that you can choose from.
Veggies at Each Meal
Another habit that will help you improve your health is to eat veggies at each meal. The more color variety, the better, because that will help you get a variety of nutrients to fuel your body!
Veggies are a carbohydrate (another macronutrient your body needs) and the high fiber and nutrient content helps keep you feeling satisfied. It also adds variety to your meals – I encourage you to try a different veggie at each meal if you can!
Most Starchy Carbs After Exercise
Starchy carbs are the macronutrient that seems to get the worst press recently. Low-carb diets are still quite popular and carb cycling is starting to become a term more people are familiar with.
I like to focus on “smart carbs” for the majority of my carbohydrate intake, because they are slower-digesting, higher-fiber, and nutrient-rich. That means your body is getting the most benefit from these! Foods like whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, and starchy veggies (like potatoes and bananas).
If your goal is fat loss, the best time to load up on starchy carbs is after exercise, when your body is primed to process these foods.
Eat Balanced Fats
The final habit in my top 5 list, is to eat a balanced variety of fats. There are 3 types of fats you may have heard of: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Eating all three in a healthy balance can have a dramatic impact on your health and help you lose fat. It can also help with hormone synthesis, recovery, feeling full, and it makes food taste good!
You probably already eat enough saturated fat, as most protein-dense foods also contain this. The two other types of fats you’ll want to add to your diet are the monounsaturated (mixed nuts, olives, and olive oil) and polyunsaturated (flax seed oil, fish oil, and also mixed nuts).
5 Habits Cheat Sheet + Bonus Tips!!
To make it even easier to get started with these habits, I’ve created a free cheat sheet that includes tips to implement each habit and grocery list ideas to get started. Grab your copy by filling out this form: