That is quite a statement made by Arnold Ehret but so true. If there is one thing that is consistent in life its that we eat.
We eat & drink for so many different reasons for desire, survival, delight, energy, immunity, health, comfort and celebration. Whatever the reason we make a decision on a food and consume it. In my opinion most food selections are emotionally challenged or challenging, you know its not good for you but you don’t care, you know its good for you and you make a selection based on what you think will be good, or you are ill and forced into a healthy eating regime against your wishes.
The last thing you want is to be forced to eat certain foods based on ill health, you never want to get to that stage. The other stage I often see people in is the wish to look and feel good and base food selection according to the goals they are trying to achieve. This is where I am going to put the focus of this blog because the majority of people that I interact with are trying to get into shape or trying to improve their performance.
The most amazing thing I see and hear with people I come into contact with is, so and so lost this much weight on this diet, and this person managed to drop so much body fat on this diet or this person is going for these injections or freeze wraps or laser treatments and the list just goes on and on. It is of course the same in the sporting communities, a guy performs in a race and everyone wants to know what he is doing, what is he eating etc. The variety of options of diet plans are so vast that the choices can sometimes be so overwhelming. I will often hear of someone who has tried at least 3-4 different diets in a period of a year with not much success or excellent success followed by a plateau then failure.
So let me make some things a little clearer and lets no sugar coat (excuse the pun) the facts. Firstly quick fixes don’t exist, neither do diets, detoxes or temporary meal plans. You might think they do, but you are mistaken. These quick fixes that people go on and excessive diet plans only mean one thing changes in physical appearance but the problem is that people forget about their internal appearance. Our internal physiology our organs run our entire system mistreat them in anyway and you will pay for it if not in the short term then definitely long term. The problem is because we lose sight to our physical appearance we don’t take notice of whats happening on the inside. There is only one thing you should be aiming for and that should be a nutrition strategy for life. If you get it right life will be good to you, from a health perspective. If you get it wrong life could be tragic and I mean this with all sincerity.
So the next question is how do you know which nutrition regime to follow, which direction should you take. Its actually not such a difficult thing in the beginning but it takes some planning. I have put down what I think are the 10 steps to a better you from a nutrition perspective of course :-).
1. Go for a complete medical
If you have no idea of your health status you are wasting your time by attempting to eat certain foods when you have no understanding if they are beneficial or harmful to you. Get a snapshot of your body, meaning blood works organ function etc. Go for a thorough medical.
2. Set your goals
Set a realistic goal of what you are wanting to achieve and make sure its realistic. Telling me you want to lose 10kg’s in a month is not realistic at all, but over a few months that’s a different story.
3. Review your current eating
I love it when people tell me “I eat very healthy, but its doing nothing for me”. I make them write down a food journal over a 7 day period of every single thing they consume over that period from morning until night. Once you see whats written down its actually quite shocking. Perception of food intake is very often completely different to what is really happening. Once you understand what it is you are doing wrong then you understand what you need to do to make things right.
Many people introduce new foods to their eating regime without actually making the changes first. My recommendation is to take a look at the meal journal you made. Identify the bad stuff, and start an elimination process, meaning get the bad out of your weekly eating or reduce it significantly and also get it out the house as once its not there its not accessible. The basics of elimination are definitely the sugars, instant and processed foods that’s a good start.
5. Food Replacement
Once you are in a routine of not eating the bad stuff now you should start to introduce the good stuff. First look at what you currently eat and see if there is a healthier replacement for it. As an example, do you eat white rice or processed oats? If that’s the case then swap it for a short grain brown or wild rice, or quinoa or amaranth instead. Swap that processed oats for a rolled or whole oats. There are many healthier options for what you are eating if you do your research and get some good advice.
6. New Food Introduction
How many of you get so excited when you walk into a health shop and walk out with every new food you have never tried promising so many different results. My suggestion here is start off slow, only introduce one or two new foods a week and test them properly. You need to make sure they agree with you. If they don’t then you need to eliminate them. Even a “health” food might cause digestive or allergic issues, fatigue etc and this is your body’s way of saying don’t give me this stuff please. Most people don’t listen so you need to train yourself to become sensitive to your body’s needs. The new food introduction I would focus on would be variety of healthy proteins & fats, vegetables and good fruit.
7. Meal Frequency and Timing
Now that you are on your path of the ultimate nutrition regime you will need to try and monitor eating frequency and timing of the meals. As an athlete you need to see if you are fatigued or if you are properly fueling and recovering from a workout. If you are trying to lose weight, starving yourself wont do the trick, but eating well and watching what you eat will make a difference. Ultimately your lifestyle and the types of foods you consume will determine how many times and when you eat during the day. If you have hunger cravings, or energy dips you need to re-look at your intake and timing. You truly want to make sure your energy levels are balanced throughout the day.
8. Build the Base
The process above is not an overnight process. It will take weeks and months to get into a routine and build on your base. Don’t ever give up and don’t think this is a quick fix, this is a recipe for long term healthy nutrition choices. The stronger the base the more you have to work with. If your base is weak you cannot expect to succeed.
9. Tweak your Nutrition
This is the part I think most people are aiming for. The problem is a lot of people skip steps 1-8 and jump straight to 9. So this is where I would say if you want to try a LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet, rather do the previous steps and slowly move into it. A lot of people have been forced into it following diabetes or cholesterol issues etc in order to provide a quicker fix to the inevitable medical issues. However if you are fairly healthy or don’t have any major medical issues then move towards it slowly. Do it in a way that it will not impact you significantly so you don’t rebound backwards. I find those that jump into it too quickly are the quickest to jump out unless you have amazing willpower. Slowly make changes to your nutrition regime. As an example look at where you are eating carbs and gradually cut out until you get to a level that suites you. Then tweak over time. If LCHF is not for you, it does not mean you will not be healthy if you follow another nutrition program that is healthy with the appropriate carbs which suite your body type. We are all unique and we all respond differently to different foods.
10. Enjoy your nutrition
This is such an important facet of eating. If you don’t enjoy it then whats the point. I mentioned earlier that foods definitely play on our emotions. You can still eat healthy foods that make you feel good, smile and cause you to crave. You need to experiment and find those foods. Experimenting, cooking and eating can be an adventure and a lot of fun if you try it. Don’t get despondent there are so many good healthy meal recipes out there and I am sure there are plenty just waiting to satiate your palate.
Remember eating healthily is a percentages game, if you do it right most of the time, treating yourself once in a while is enjoyable and fun. If you treat yourself too often then in the long run its disastrous. Learn how to make every healthy meal a treat and that way you will never veer off course.
all the best