WHAT IS GOOD NUTRITION?
It is eating clean, whole, unprocessed foods… It is eating consistently in both substance (e.g. macronutrients) and amount… It is having a healthy relationship with food and understanding that food is more than just fuel – it is cultural, social, emotional, and expressive… It is monitored and tweaked… It is adaptive and evolving…
…it is forgiving. Nutrition is not an all or nothing thing. You can be healthy while still making lots of mistakes along the way.
When it comes to nutrition, there are many “rules” or “restrictions” I could place on you.
~”Don’t eat gluten.”
~”Only eat raw.”
~”You can only have 6 almonds a meal.”
~”When you hit 1500 calories, stop eating at all costs.”
However, no normal person can stay sane for the long haul with all of these, especially when they must apply them to the irregularity of normal life. That is because heavily restricted, overly detailed “diets” are generally unsustainable.
Moreover, every single person is different. Their culture, background, genetics, activity level, and body type make them unique. As a result the way they process and tolerate food is equally as unique. Therefore, how can a cookie cutter diet be applied to everyone? (hint: it can’t)
Therefore, what is most important to maintaining healthy life over the long term is learning what healthy choices to make and how to make them so you can apply healthy nutrition to your own, unique life.
HOW DO YOU TRULY LEARN HEALTHY CHOICES WHEN IT COMES TO NUTRITION?
Set inclusive goals.
Meaning you must add good food to your current nutrition regimen, not simply remove or restrict the bad foods.
First, it is not rocket science to say that sugar, refined grains, or alcohol is bad and should be removed. Yet, that common sense has not helped you or many others remove those things from our diet. Furthermore, for many, if you say you can’t have something, it makes you want it all the more!
Second, learning how to eat healthy does not occur if you are simply removing the bad. You need to know what to replace it with.
Third, actively filling our mind and stomach with healthy foods will reduce the want for bad foods. If you eat a meal with full servings of lean meats, healthy fats, and veggies, you will have little or no room for that slice of pizza or extra cookie. I am not saying the craving will necessarily go away just because you are full, but its temptation will not be enhanced by hunger. And – spoiler alert – with the combination of other skills and habits, over time the craving will go away as well. Don’t worry, I’ve got those other skills set-up for you as well.
You need to plan and allow for a limited amount of non-healthy choices to be made. The 80% rules means that you need to be compliant to your nutrition plan at least 80% of the time. The other 20% is up to you. You can stay compliant or you can waiver a little, both are OK. (a larger blog post on the science behind the 80% rule, coming soon)
First, cutting out all the things you enjoy simply because they are not physically healthy for you sucks. It is no fun and can make you a miserable cranky person. Provided you do all the good healthy things most of the time, if you want to fill in the edges of your diet with a few less healthy temptations, you can. You need to enjoy life, and being able to participate and enjoy the emotional, cultural, and social aspect that food and drink has is a vital part of that. You just need to do so in control, and commit most of your physical food demands to the healthy stuff.
Second, this rule gives you flexibility in how you apply the plan to your life. Over time you will begin to see where you most likely stay more compliant and where you stay less compliant, while still being healthy overall. It helps you to find out everything about who you are and what you value.
- What is your current life and schedule like, and how does that affect your food choices?
- What foods are you absolutely not willing to give up?
- What eating habits are you good at? Not so good at?
- How do you view and treat food?
- What is your mental relationship with certain food and drink?
- How do you respond to some nutrition rules versus others?
Third, learning more about yourself and your relationship with food helps you to adapt as your body and life changes in the future. This help you to stay healthy for the rest of your life.
A FLEXIBLE PLAN
A flexible plan helps you to create an eating lifestyle that is healthy, yet ideal for you, which will help you to remain healthy not only in the short term but in the long run.
Learning what healthy choices to make and how to make them in any situation is a major factor in maintaining flexibility. You will no longer need to predict every single situation that may arise, you will be able to tackle them all.
Healthy choices also allow you to pick and choose, to an extent, what you like to eat and prefer. It also allows you to apply these choices outside your own kitchen, so you are not stuck making every single meal every single day – which, if you’re a traveler, is not always possible.
Flexibility is also found in the 80% compliance goal (Blog Post Coming Soon). You do not have to be perfect, just consistently consistent. The extra 20% is up to you. This allows you to enjoy the things you want to enjoy so you can have a full life of experiences unhindered by overly ridged food restrictions.
Choice and 80% are huge factors in applying the uniqueness that is you to your diet and that application is the biggest facilitator of success.
Flex Fitness OT incorporates the above into its Nomadic Physical Wellness System
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