Instead of praising all the “super foods” we have these days here are five small changes you can make that will have a huge effect over time. Don’t expect anything fancy. Chances are you have most likely heard these before but did you actually give them a try and stick to them for longer than 3 days?
Let’s implement one each week and make sure all focus on that week is this little habit that over the long run will make a big difference in how you eat.
The title is a bit deceiving (this was just to get your attention). We all want that magic pill or food that will make us super healthy just by looking at it. Unfortunately there is no such thing and although there are products that are proven to boost your performance. The amount you will have to take to have any benefits from it, are not realistic and most of it is just marketing. So start with implementing some easy habits that won’t cost you anything. Except some effort and motivation.
No matter what you eat. When you eat. Where you eat. Or with whom you eat. Just eat slowly, it’s that simple!
(Or is it not? For me personally this is super hard and I need to really force myself to do the below steps. But I’m gonna keep trying every day until I don’t have to think about it anymore)
Try these tactics to keep things simple and doable.
- Add 5 -10 min to each meal
- Sit down to enjoy your meal
- Put utensils down between bites
- Taking a breath between bites
- Setting aside time to eat. Making eating a conscious deliberate act and a well-earned break from your busy day…not just something you squeeze in between other stressful things
- Don’t eat in your car but find a place to sit down, relax and focus on eating
- Have no distractions like tv or phone
Help your body to do its job! It takes at least 20 mins for signals to get from your stomach to your brain to tell you that you’re full.
Other benefits to slow eating:
- You’ll digest your food better
- You’ll feel more relaxed
- You’ll feel more satisfied
2.Eat until 80% full
“80% full” is not a specific number, but rather an idea: Eating until “just satisfied” or “no longer hungry” but not full or stuffed.
This will teach appetite awareness, building intuitive understanding and control of hunger/fullness. Over time, you will learn to sense hunger and satiety cues properly, as well as distinguish physical hunger from cravings.
This one sounds simple to understand but can be quite hard. To get the feeling right try to eat once 100% full and maybe even 120% to realise what the difference is.
At first, you will not be able to feel hunger or fullness, or any stomach cues. Keep learning and paying attention to any signs to your physical hungry or full, such as:
- Hunger cues: “hunger headache”; light-headedness or “spaced out”; being “hangry” (hungry + angry); growling or empty-feeling stomach; etc.
- Over-fullness cues (ate too much): feeling stuffed/bloated; heartburn; feeling nauseated or gassy; feeling heavy and sluggish; etc.
- Satiety cues (ate just enough): feeling energized and no longer hungry; feeling generally satisfied; feeling as though you could get up from the table and do something (such as go for a walk); etc.
3.Add an extra portion of vegetables to each meal
Eating more colorful fruit and vegetables improves nutritional quality. It will bring more variety to your meals and helps feeling more satisfied because of the fiber. Adding more food will feel nicer than taking it away 😉
How to do this:
- “Eat the rainbow” mix up your veggies so that you have multiple colors on your plate
- Write down the vegetables you like to eat and check how variated your taste is. If you realise your plate is mostly just green vegetables, next time you go to the supermarket spend 5 min on finding some different colors like carrot , cauliflower, red onion, butternut squash, red cabbage…be creative and try something new!
- When going out for lunch or dinner always ask for a portion of roasted vegetables or a salad on the side
- Approximate one serving size of vegetables is 1 fist
- Start with adding one colorful fruit or veggie to each meal, remember to eat to 80% full
4.Cut out refined sugar and make smart carb choices
Cutting out sugar doesn’t mean you can’t have any carbs! Almost everyone will benefit from having some carbohydrates in their diet. Go for “smart carbs” which are slower-digesting, higher-fiber and nutrient-rich. These include such foods as:
- Whole grains (brown or wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, etc.)
- Beans and legumes
- Fruits and starchy vegetables ( potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and plantains, etc.)
Low carb isn’t always ideal when doing Crossfit or high intensity training. Most people look, feel, and perform better with some carbs in their diet, even if they’re trying to lose weight/fat.
So remember not all carbs are created equal: “smart carbs” are a great nutritional choice and not the same thing as processed sugars!
Serving size is approximately 1 cupped handful/meal for women and 1-2 cupped handfuls for men. Although the portion size may change when activity levels go up. When you feel you’re not recovering from your training sessions and feel low on energy you may have to up your carbs.
5.Drink only calorie-free beverages
It’s easy to take in a lot of unwanted calories with drinks. Most drinks don’t offer many nutrients or add value to our bodies. Drinking only calorie free beverages (such as water), we can automatically improve our nutrition and cut out excess energy intake.
Try out the following challenge:
ONLY DRINK CALORIE FREE DRINKS FOR 2 WEEKS
Gather data and see what happens! Start by looking at what you currently drink, and where you need to substitute or change your choice.
What you can do to make it “a little bit better” is switching your soda drink for sparkling water if you like to have some fizz, add a slice of lemon or lime to give more flavor. Eat a piece of fruit instead of just drinking the juice, etc. – be creative!
This can be difficult, especially if you like alcohol. Experiment with it and see how you feel; after the two weeks you can decide what elements of this habit to keep in your routines.
If you like to get more help in setting new habits to a healthier life, give me a shout in the gym or email me at email@example.com
By; Carmen Bosmans, Performance Coach