Nutrition! Oh how I LOOOOOVE this topic! I am actually starting my Nutrition Therapy Practitioner course tomorrow and I am so excited to learn more about my favorite topic! This blog post is inspired by the common theme I hear when talking about nutrition with clients, family, friends, and strangers who I meet and learn what I do for a living. There tends to be obstacles that get in our way to a healthier life, especially when it comes to what we eat. So, I am going to share how to break through those obstacles and get you to where you want to go!
Nutrition the most important aspect of health and fitness. It will aid in your recovery, help accelerate you’re gains, and can ward off diseases by keeping your immunity high. At the same time nutrition is often the most neglected area of focus for individuals looking to lead healthier lives.
The thing is, most health professionals feel uncomfortable talking about nutrition (of course staying within their scope of practice). I’m not entirely sure the reason behind this but I’m guessing that at times the health professional is just as confused or uncertain about nutrition as the client or patient.
I studied nutrition because it fascinated me from an early age. When I first became vegetarian at age 15 I stumbled into it with the naive hope that living off of popcorn and cookies would be good enough because that was vegetarian. I of course became lethargic with an appetite that was all over the place and blood sugar that was making me crazy. I ended up having to reintroduce some meat and in the meantime did some research on how to become a vegetarian the right way. One year later I was back to living without meat (besides fish) and incorporated a lot more fruits and veggies allowing me to feel better and break free of that low energy slump I had felt before. One thing that always intrigued me since becoming vegetarian is how people continuously say “I could never be vegetarian I just love ______ so much“. But, we’ll touch on that in a bit.
Going off to college I was able to delve into my love of nutrition when I took an elective course my sophomore year. About a month into that course I realized that this was what I wanted to study and quickly went to my advisor and changed my major from Visual Communications to Applied Nutrition.
Over the course of my senior year to where I am today I had my own complications with my nutrition. Gluten became a protein that my body was not thrilled about, causing crazy bloating and discomfort. Dairy also later became an enemy to my skin and digestive system. Both of which I had to cut out of my diet. It wasn’t easy but as I became aware of how crappy I felt when ingesting foods with gluten and dairy I knew that it had to be done! After cutting those 2 out I felt and continue to feel much more energized, my skin is clear and my digestive system is no longer out of whack! However, again, when people find out I am a gluten-free, dairy free, pescetarain I get the, “I could never eat like that I love _____ too much“.
So lets talk about what this fill in the blank crazy love affair of food people are having. Whether its pizza, cheese, beer, chicken wings, cake, ice-cream.. whatever.. its fascinating that people are so caught up with their love of a certain type of food that they will sacrifice their bodies feeling 100% just so they can eat the stuff that’s making them feel terrible.
For the record, I am not saying everyone should eat the way I am eating, this is strictly for people who complain about bodily issues after eating certain foods but then continue to eat that same food over and over again. Or the individual who says they have some serious health goals but for some reason cannot stop eating the food that is hindering their progress. And let’s be honest, that fill in the blank food item is NEVER something healthy, it’s always something that the person considers a “treat” or a “cheat” food.
As human beings we tend to do what feels good for us. Majority of us can only think in the moment. For example, if you’re stressed and you look to food for comfort, you will gravitate to that food item that provides that for you, whether that be cake, or your mom’s lasagna, some foods just make you feel better at that moment, but may lead to you experiencing some further pain down the road. There is also the obstacle of doing things out of routine, like if we go to a grocery store with Starbucks and we treat ourselves to a fancy drink each time we go. Lets say we do that a few times a week, depending on what you’re getting that can add up to tons of extra, empty calories per week, so you might as well kiss those weight loss goals good-bye!
All of these things I am describing are what I like to call nutrition hang-ups. Think of it as being like your friend who won’t stop talking about their ex and cannot successfully get into a healthy relationship because they are too hung up on that other person. It’s the same with nutrition. We are so hung-up on whatever food we “love” that we can’t fully immerse ourselves in our healthy life because we keep self sabotaging ourselves.
So how do we break free of our nutrition hang-ups?
First we have to recognize them.
I want you to really pay attention to what you are eating each day and WHY you are eating it. Is it out of routine where once the clock strikes 3pm you feel you need a sugary snack? Is it after a stressful day when you park in front of your TV and mindlessly eat anything in the kitchen? Or could it be that you dive into those “cheat” foods when you’re with a certain group of people who maybe don’t share the same goals as you?
Once you have recognized them you can substitute a better behavior in place of that hang-up.
If you’re eating something sugary at 3pm that might just mean that your blood sugar is low or you’re dehydrated. Instead of diving for a snack try to drink a big glass of water, walk around, and see if you still have a craving. If you are, make sure you’re prepared with a piece of fruit to still provide that sweetness you’re searching for but won’t derail your goals! If you’re mindlessly eating after a stressful day at work, try to meal prep in the beginning of the week so you know exactly what you’ll have before hand. I get that meal prepping isn’t for everyone, so even just having some quick things to throw together, like a lean protein and veggies, can do the trick! Or you can always pay a meal prep delivery service to do all the work for you so you don’t have to use your brain any more than you have to!
Now lets tackle that group of friends or family members that might be triggers for your nutritional hang-ups. This can be one of the hardest ones as it can take a lot of energy and will power on your part, however it can be done! Clearly communicating your goals and setting examples by maybe ordering something else in place of the appetizer you all always share, or bringing your own dish to the big dinner can help you better succeed in these situations. Keep in mind, there tends to be a learning curve here for your friends or family that takes a little time, but once they get it, they get it! I’m sure it took a little getting used to for me to not be snacking on the cheese plate with my friends and family and opting for a veggie tray instead, but now every time we go out or I come over they always have something that I can eat ready to go! (Love ya guys!)
The thing is, it is 100% up to you to be honest with yourself and really listen to your body. Majority of the time when I talk about nutrition hangups with people, they will tell me what food it is that they “can’t live without” and as we get to chatting about how that food makes their bodies feel they tend to say something along the lines of “not that great”. It’s our MINDS that are telling us that it feels good. If your body was in charge it would shut that first bite down! It doesn’t want to go through all that digestive nightmare!
Lastly we have to put it into practice and constantly work on it!
If all of this were easy then we would put those big companies with all the processed junk on the grocery shelves out of business! But, we keep coming back for more, or have little “slip ups”. Just like anything we need to continually practice and keep ourselves in check to recognize when our behavior of grabbing a certain comfort food is happening. As stated before, normally we need to get in control of our thoughts in order to help us excel during our actions. Just taking few moments to breathe can do wonders! While you are in the learning stages really experiment with what works best for you and practice that overtime you are in that situation! I promise you can come out successful on the other side!
If nutrition hang-ups are what is getting in your way and you cannot seem to break through, I HIGHLY recommend getting a coach to help work with you to determine what method is best for you to be successful! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me help you see success!