Happy new year, friends. I know it’s that time of year, but holy moly has the Diet Industry turned up the heat on the new-year-grind-for-your-crash-diet crap. They’re out there workin’ hard to sell us the next (fake!) detox, superfood and 6-weeks to a 6-pack program. So, in honour of the turn of the calendar, let’s take the opportunity to tell diet resolution culture to take. a. seat. and walk through a few nutrition fundamentals that can be a reliable base for your healthy and **NOT MISERABLE** nutrition plan for 2022. And, hopefully, forever. Because health and fitness aren’t nearly as complicated as the Industry wants you to believe.
DIET CULTURE RED FLAGS
Diet bullshit usually comes in absolutes: “you must do/eat X” or “never do/eat Y”. What’s worse, those absolutes keep changing and conflicting to keep us confused and buying into their game. Diet programs, ‘superfood’ companies, they make money because they know you’ll be back. If those things worked, they’d run themselves out of customers pretty quickly.
Your takeaway here is that hard across-the-board rules, the “you musts”, “you can’ts”, “you needs” and the way too short result timelines are all MEGA red flags that what their offering is to take your money, and little else.
Now that we know what to avoid, here are three nutrition fundamentals that you can take to the bank.
1. Balance that plate
The goal of your meals that make up the majority of your eating should be variety. If you look at your plate and identify a protein, carb and fat source, and also see some bright colours, keep doing just that. Over and over and over.
And if you got that down and you’re ready to level up? Focus on building in a variety of foods within those groups every week. I like to do that by cycling my prepped protein throughout the week and trying to get at least 4 different colours in my produce every day. Working in that variety will make sure you’re getting a good mix of macro and micronutrients and that your meals balance out without having to worry too much about each meal’s individual makeup.
2. Get those snacks, friends
Remember when the diet industry insisted we needed to stop snacking to reach our nutrition goals? Well, we’re putting that bad advice to bed and – better – suggesting that it can actually HELP you reach those goals.
How many times have you decided to not eat between lunch and dinner and then ended up eating way more/differently, at dinner than you planned? Regular snacking between meals helps us avoid big cravings and the blood sugar dips that lead to panicked food choices, and can keep us feeling satiated and safe from thoughts of restriction that work against our efforts, too.
That said, there are certainly some guidelines you can put around your snack choices – a chocolate bar, for example, may not do too much to help with that blood sugar crash – so if you’re interested in learning more, you can find a freebie about it right here!
3. Keep that stress and sleep in line
Okay, okay: this one isn’t about food, sure, but it is critical to the nutrition fundamentals just the same. We can be totally nailing the food we’re taking in, but if your body isn’t in a place to use it and play along, it’s a lot of effort for not a lot of good.
Here’s why it’s important: when we’re stressed, hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and ghrelin (the hunger hormone) spike big time and that hormone high affects the way our bodies manage the food we take in. For example, increased ghrelin means a higher than usual appetite, and increased cortisol inhibits our muscle protein synthesis (which means our lean muscle tissue breaks down at a quicker rate than we can build it). Yikes.
Similarly, when the quality and/or quantity of sleep we’re getting doesn’t match what we need, it also affects our hunger-regulation hormones. Sleep also offers the body and brain time to restore and recover and adapt to the changes we’re trying to make with food and movement. Basically, without these things managed, a lot of our effort on food goes to waste.
SIMPLE, NOT EASY
The trick is pretty simple, and it doesn’t require a new program or a cupboard full of supplements. But don’t let that fool ya, either: simple DOES NOT mean easy. It’s normal if putting these fundamentals into practice feels tough. If you’ve ever tried to change up your habits, you know there is a big gap between knowing what to do and, well, actually doing it.
Building a nutrition system is about developing sustainable daily behaviours that impact your “energy in” and “energy out” to suit your life, body and goals. If you can devise a plan that meets your targets, feels good AND can be done in a way that feels pretty effortless? You’ve found the golden key.
And if this is the part you get stuck time and again, we can help! Our group mentorship program, The Rebel Method, is open for registration twice a year – you can check out more here.
(and – psst – if group stuff just really isn’t your thing, check out our options to work on it with a coach one-on-one).
Basically, friends – we hope you go into the year clear on what you want & what it really takes to get there. Your nutrition fundamentals are clear: eat a variety of food in types and amounts that make you feel good. Find ways to keep that consistent. And make room for lots of rest and laughs along the way is the way. Voila!
A big, big virtual hug for a very happy 2022.