A while back I asked what information people wanted and needed most to help them achieve their goals, and the answer was overwhelmingly “nutrition”.
That is what I’m going to discuss today through a mish-mash of random nutrition thoughts, including information on eating “triggers” and additional helpful tips. My truest hope is that it helps you in some way.
The majority of the people I work with (at least 80 percent) have a history of disordered eating habits or experienced a poor relationship with food, and I receive numerous emails on a weekly basis from people who share similar stories. Since I battled disordered eating in the past too, I keep this in mind when I discuss nutrition.
It’s my experience that individuals who have had poor relationships with food in the past, or present, need very simple, flexible, nutrition guidelines as opposed to rigid rules. Please bear those facts in mind as you read this article; my primary audience is individuals who have had, or are currently battling, disordered eating habits or have a poor relationship with food.
My sister and I were talking about nutrition the other day, and we have similar “triggers” and eating habits. For example, we are both very hungry at night and that is when our “temptations” or cravings are more likely to kick in full force, and this appears to be common with many of my clients, too.
Personally, it doesn’t matter how much I eat during the day; it could be one or two large meals, and I’ll still be very hungry at night. Now, this could be due to hormonal changes that naturally occur throughout the day, but regardless of the reason, I am always hungry at night.
For my sister and me, the evening can be an “eating trigger” because that is when we are more susceptible to give into cravings.
Identify Your Eating Triggers
No, it may not be fun to do, but if you have any struggles with food, or just want to improve your food-relationship, I highly suggest you take the time to identify your personal eating triggers.
- What emotions trigger you to eat, even if you’re not physically hungry?
- Is there a time of day that makes you more prone to poor food choices or overeating?
- Do you have any domino foods? A domino food can be described as a food that you start eating and can’t stop. Think of it as the potato chip expression, “bet you can’t eat just one.” Please keep in mind domino foods aren’t just items like potato chips, cookies, or junk food; they can also be natural foods. As an example, I used to have problems with things like almonds – I wouldn’t eat a small handful; I would almost eat an entire bag.
If you need other helpful sources for determining your eating triggers, I urge you to Take This Eating Challenge and Challenge Number Two. Don’t worry; they’re quick and easy to complete and can be quite eye opening.
How to Address Your Triggers
Once you determine your personal eating triggers using the tips and links above, it’s time to take action and get things under control.
In the case of domino foods, I suggest you either exchange them for a different food (an apple instead of chips, for example, if your domino foods are in the “junk food” category), or take steps to control portion sizes. For example, if almonds are one of your domino foods, I suggest you take a handful and put them in a bowl and do not eat them straight from the bag. Get out how much you want, and then put the bag away.
This is something I must do with things like trail mix and ice cream (two of my favorite “treats), almonds, or anything else that comes in a container. If I eat straight from the bag/container, I’ll want to eat the entire thing, even if I’m no longer hungry.
Many people have the mentality that they must “clean their plate” just as I do, even if they’re eating from a bag or container. The easiest thing to do in this situation is to stop eating directly from the bag/container. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you know you may lose control.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
People will argue the effectiveness of my following recommendation, but it’s proven to work for my clients and myself.
What do you do if a big dinner is coming up that you know won’t consist entirely of meat and vegetables? Or what if you just feel like cooking some comfort food? (I’m from the south so that means something like fried chicken and okra).
If I know I’m going to enjoy a large meal for dinner that doesn’t consist primarily of natural foods, I’ll just limit what I eat during the day. For example, I may just eat some smoked salmon and a cup of cottage cheese (protein helps greatly with satiety) and drink a lot of water throughout the day. Or, perhaps I’ll employ a fast a la Eat Stop Eat (and still drink a lot of water).
Perhaps something came up unexpectedly and I indulged in some homemade baked goods or sweets. This actually happened yesterday; I enjoyed some (quite a lot, actually) chocolate covered strawberries and chocolates. As a result of my over-indulgence, I am fasting today via the Eat Stop Eat method and drinking a lot of water.
It’s really not that hard. People overcomplicate things, and I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself in the past. If I ate some cookies or went out to dinner and ate something that wasn’t the healthiest choice I would be riddled with guilt. Now, I simply eat less the day of or after, usually with fasting.
I know this sounds insane to some people, but it works. And the best part – it’s incredibly easy and stress free.
Please note that fasting is not some form of punishment!If you use fasting as I suggest, you absolutely should not view it as punishment, because that just adds fuel to the bad food-relationship fire.
Eat Your Protein
As mentioned earlier, protein is very effective at increasing satiety. I have my clients track their protein intake to get an idea of how much they consume. It’s common for women to average about 40 grams or so a day, if even that. Once they increase their protein intake to at least 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight (I prefer closer to one gram per pound of bodyweight) they experience greater satiety.
This is also useful for people, such as myself, that experience greater hunger in the evening. As long as I eat a good amount of protein during the day, then I’m not ravenous at night.
An easy way to make sure you eat enough protein is to center your meals on good protein sources such as free range eggs and poultry, grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, and other sources.
If you’re unsure of your average protein intake, track it for a week and see where you stand. If you’re not getting one gram per pound of bodyweight, start doing so and see what happens.
Here’s a quick and easy, high protein, yummy recipe that is packed with about 45 grams of protein – High Protein Cheesecake Bowl.
Fruit Gate 2012
I made a comment on Facebook the other day, and I knew that it would cause some commotion. Basically, I said I eat 2-3 pieces of fruit a day and asked when people would stop condemning fruit. This statement caused some back-and-forth bantering and some people ended up “un-friending” me as a result.
I’m aware that fructose has a very bad reputation at the moment, and I won’t argue that people should stop consuming high fructose corn syrup that is found via products such as fruit juice, sodas, and processed food items.
But when it comes to the average person who consumes a lot of processed foods, fast food, and practically no vegetables or fruit, no one is going to convince me that encouraging someone to eat a piece of fruit instead of a Pop Tart is going to cause them to gain body fat.
Most people just need to start eliminating items such as fast food, sodas, heavily processed foods and trans-fat from their diets. Telling someone who eats Pop Tarts for breakfast, fast food for lunch, snacks on candy bars and drinks sodas all day is going to get incredibly confused if you tell them to “not eat fruit”.
My clients, and the majority of people I work with want to shed body fat, build muscle, improve their health and energy levels, and just want to feel better. I’m not referring to individuals who want to achieve super low levels of body fat and who have already perfected the basics of nutrition (which I’ll address below).
I agree that people who want to reach incredible leanness may want to experiment with limiting fruit intake. However, it’s not necessary for everyone to do so because I know a lot of individuals who can achieve, and maintain, single digit body fat (men) or low to mid teens (women) who eat fruit on a regular basis.
Bottom line concerning fruit – if you want to look better in a swim suit, improve your health and performance, than feel free to eat a couple pieces of fresh fruit each day. As long as you’re following the basics of nutrition (below) you will not gain body fat from including fruit in your daily diet.
If people focused on eating real, high quality natural foods (think grass-fed meats, free range poultry and eggs, wild caught fish, fresh fruits and veggies) and listening to their bodies (eating when hungry, stopping when satisfied) and consumed plenty of water each day, they would build the strong, healthy, lean body they desired. (Also refer to Beautiful Badass Nutrition Principles).
Apply those basics of nutrition for a minimum of one year. Follow them at least 90% of the time, and be honest with yourself. If after mastering the basics for a year you still want more “advanced information,” than send me an email and I’ll gladly help you out.
If you think you’re ready for more complex nutrition methods, than answer this question – have you mastered the basics? Honestly, have you? Why do you want additional information? Just like a beginner strength trainee will not get better results from an advanced program, you won’t get great results from complicated nutrition methods if you haven’t mastered the basics. And why would you want something that is complicated if you can get the same results with simple methods?
My challenge to you is this: eat natural, whole, unprocessed foods that are in their natural state and meat that comes from animals raised in their natural environments. This means grass-fed meats, grass-fed dairy (if you can tolerate it or even want to include it), free range poultry and eggs, wild caught fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat those foods at least 90% of the time, and then report back to me in one year.
Is that advice “sexy” or even complicated? Nope, and that’s a main reason people shrug it off as “useless” or too basic. But I guarantee it works. They are the same guidelines I provide to my clients and not once has someone needed anything more complicated than that to achieve their fat loss and performance goals.
Additional Random Tips
-Know what makes you feel best and what works for you. Perhaps you would enjoy a form of intermittent fasting, or maybe you prefer to eat four to five smaller meals each day. Experiment a little and see what works for you.
-Don’t exclude foods entirely from your diet (the exception is if you have an allergy to a food or food group or eating a certain food causes you to feel lousy). If you love ice cream and proclaim, “I’m never going to eat ice cream again,” what will you always want to eat and constantly think about?
-I truly don’t care if you’re vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, gluten-free, an intermittent-faster, or any other possible term used to describe your eating preference. Are you improving your health and building the body you want with that method? I truly hope so, because that is what I care about. I want you to get from point A to point B in a healthy way that is sustainable and works for you.
Final note – I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist nor do I play one on the internet. I’m providing you with information that has worked for me and my clients. This is not medical advice.
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