What do you think of when you hear the word “nutrition”? A class you took in high school or college? Some fad diet that you’ve heard of? The guilt you feel because deep down, you know you should be eating better?
When I hear the word “nutrition”, I think of eating healthy foods that nourish my body. That is a very simplified way to explain nutrition, but for all intents and purposes, that’s what nutrition is. Nutrition is actually a science that explains the way that the nutrients we take in via food interact with and nourish our bodies.
I don’t know about you, but I was never taught much about nutrition in school growing up – unless you count the food pyramid, but they’ve completely changed that for the upcoming generation because they got it way wrong for us, so that doesn’t count. Not having been formally taught much about nutrition, I always found (and at moments still do) nutrition to be an overwhelming topic to try to learn about and understand. I don’t think I’m alone in this. And that is why I am writing this blog!
So you want to learn about nutrition, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a little look into what I tell my Nutrition Coaching Clients (for FREEEEEE). ;)
I’m going to reveal the big secret (ok it’s not a secret at all because I talk about it all the time) about Nutrition Coaching with me: The ultimate goal is to move you towards eating real food. What is real food? Simply put, real food is food that either came from the ground or was once living. It wasn’t cooked up in a factory. It’s not loaded with chemicals and preservatives. You can read AND understand the ingredients label – or better yet, it doesn’t have an ingredients label at all! According to CrossFit Co-Founder, Greg Glassman, (and I second what he says) the foods that we should be eating are: meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no (added) sugar.
Still confused? Let me make it even simpler for you: shop the perimeter of the grocery store, not including the bakery or dairy section. Is it a fruit or veggie? Yes: eat it. Is it a meat? Yes: eat it. Is it a nut or seed? Yes: eat it. Is it a chip, cookie, candy, or canned item loaded with preservatives? Yes: do NOT eat it.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the idea of throwing away 80% of the food in your pantry or refrigerator? If so, then let’s take a step back. You don’t have to do a 180 with the way you eat today. In fact, I would not recommend it. My motto for changing anything in life is this: Baby Steps. Changing habits slowly over time sets you up for a sustainable lifestyle change way better than a drastic change does.
So, if you are overwhelmed at the thought of changing your nutrition, here is my suggestion for you: Pick just one thing to work on and stick with it. Maybe it’s eating a healthy breakfast every day. Maybe it’s exchanging a piece of bread with dinner for some vegetables. Maybe it’s switching your milk to almond milk. Maybe it’s drinking one less cup of sweet tea each day. Identify one small thing that you can change for the better, and then keep working on that until you can be consistent with it. Once you see consistency in that area, move on to a new improvement. Be consistent with that one, and then move on to the next. Keep taking baby steps, and eventually you will take a look back and be able to see how far you have come!
So, to reiterate: Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no (added) sugar, consistently. That is it. That is your nutrition action plan. That is the best place to start. We can get into the specific details of macronutrients, micronutrients, deficiencies, etc. later. For now, let’s just focus on eating real food!