“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius
Nutrition is no different. In this day and age, our food selection has become a processed mess filled with unhealthy, addictive foods; unreliable and misguided information; and we are introduced to a new diet fad every other week. We have lost our primal instinct as hunters and gatherers, and instead of eating whole, healthy foods, we consume factory processed foods with little to no nutritional value.
I want to start off by saying, I completely understand the struggle with the choices when your stomach starts growling and options are limited. It has taken me a long time to find a nutritional path that fits my needs. I have had and still have many ups and downs with my nutrition. Also, please remember that everyone is different. Something that may work for me may not work you, vice versa.
Where to Start?
When I began my journey to better my health, I researched the latest diets to see which ones were showing the best results. As I continued my research, I began to see a pattern with all of the diet programs. Like processed food, they had an expiration date on them; follow this 12-week program, this 6-week program for weight loss or this 9-week program for muscle gain. I couldn’t find a program that was sustainable for life. I realized that my nutrition shouldn’t have to be this complicated and I had to simplify it. This is where the CrossFit Journal came in.
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.” – Greg Glassman
Greg Glassman gave a whole nutritional guideline in just ONE sentence. How simple is that? This sentence started my journey to better health and fitness. EAT WHOLE FOODS was burned into my mind. I told myself if my food didn’t come from an animal or plant, I wasn’t going to eat it. That means NO fast foods, NO processed foods, NO sugary drinks, NO sodas! For the first few months, I kept things simple. I ate whole foods. I didn’t worry about my carb count, how much protein I was taking in, or how much fat I was consuming. I just ate whole foods. About two weeks in, I could feel my body changing and started to get cravings for sugar. Instead of giving in, I realized what I was doing was working and felt more motivated than ever.
When you decide to eat whole foods, you realize your options are very limited. Meal Prepping became the next hurdle to overcome. It’s common to hear that Sundays are a great day for meal prep, but what I soon found out was (I’m sure I am not alone) what I cooked Sunday I may not want that following Thursday. Meal prepping for the week didn’t work for me and I had to come up with a new solution.
New Solution: Dinner Time!
I began to create a habit to cook dinner every night. When I cooked dinner, I would make sure I cooked enough food for my lunch the next day. By doing this routine of prepping, I wouldn’t get tired of eating the same foods like eating chicken and broccoli for a week and it ensured that my food was fresh and delicious (except for asparagus, doesn’t reheat well).
To keep cooking dinner fun and entertaining, I will listen to a great audible, podcast, or music. For you, this could be a great time to spend with your family. Let your kids help you meal prep, so they can see the healthy foods they are about to eat and use this time to teach them the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. (add the zone sheet for healthy foods)
Nobody is perfect and in today’s world, it is next to impossible to eat completely clean. I’ve had my fair share of cheat meals and/or cheat days, but I don’t let these relapses affect me. I handle this in two ways. One, I try not to have “cheat days,” instead I will have a cheat meal and I keep them limited. By limiting it to a cheat meal, you save yourself from eating unhealthy all day. Two, I enjoy my cheat meal and stay guilt-free. I found that every time I felt guilty about what I ate, it leads to me feeling sorry for myself and caused my cheat meal to turn into a cheat day, then a cheat week, then a cheat month. I don’t think I’m the only one here. If you do have a cheat meal, enjoy it and then get back on track.
Keeping It Simple
The key takeaway is to start SIMPLE and eat WHOLE FOODS. If you start by eating whole foods and cutting out all the processed foods and fast foods, you are setting yourself up for SUCCESS and healthy habits that are sustainable for a lifetime. There are other steps that I take and you can take to dial in your nutrition, which I will discuss in the future. For now, I challenge you to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO SUGAR for the next month!