I realize that there are some things I should get out in the open right away from a nutritional perspective.
Within the industry, there exists a plethora of different perspectives on how one should be approaching nutrition. It’s almost as if you find the way you believe and then go find someone that believes in the same things as you and then poof, you have a match (I think they call this confirmation bias or something).
That’s why I feel it’s important my readers or future readers/followers know what I believe so it’s clear. My principles on nutrition are quite simple:
Eat real food, not too much, mostly vegetables. Practice everything in moderation INCLUDING moderation.
It’s literally that simple. 14 words simple. But I’ll break it down.
Eat Real Food
This one can seem overly simplistic but it’s actually not that hard. As a rule, use the idea of shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. Very little of what you find in the aisles of a grocery store has any nutritional value and should be treated as such. That means hitting up the produce section for fruits and vegetables, the meat section for your protein sources, then maybe grabbing a few items from the fridges when it comes to dairy products to top things off.
Quite simply if it comes in a can or a package, we don’t want to be making these things a staple of our diets with a few exceptions. Things like bacon, cheese, yogurt, butter all have a place in your diet depending on how you’re eating but items such as pop tarts, granola or cereal simply don’t unless they are an occasional treat for you that isn’t a mainstay in the cupboard.
Not too much
This is much harder than our first principle. It’s the practice of knowing how much you should be eating for your particular day and not going over it.
We operate through a macronutrient based prescription. With each client, we go over how many calories on average you should be taking in per day and break it down when it comes to the amount of fat, carbohydrates and proteins.
This can vary completely on the individual. An online calculator may tell you you’re able to eat 3,000 calories or MyFitnessPal might tell you dieting on 1,400 is where it’s at but honestly, they can be sometimes as much as 50% off your actual caloric intake. It can take some time and coaching to find out how much fuel you need to put into your tank to see the results you want and know that we are putting enough gas in to get where we want to go but not so much that it’s spilling over the sides either.
This one is rather simple. If it grew out of the ground, let’s eat as much of it as we can. No I’m not recommending you go vegan or vegetarian and swear off protein (unless that’s a personal choice you want to make for you) but I am recommending when it comes to preparing your meals that you put as many plants, particularly green ones, on that plate as humanly possible.
I saw green vegetables because these are the foods that are highest in micronutrients that we are looking to eat on a daily basis. One of the practices I’ll often tell my clients to work through is to try and get a variety of different vegetables each time you go the grocery store. This means that if it’s asparagus and green beans one week, try to mix it up and get say broccoli and brussel sprouts next week. And yes, there are ways to make brussel sprouts taste appealing.
Everything in moderation, INCLUDING moderation
While I definitely believe in the power of eating meats and vegetables and filling your plate with as many real foods as possible, I’m not naive enough to think that’s all people should be eating. Let’s be honest, at those anniversaries, parties and birthdays, they aren’t serving up kale sandwiches. It’s cakes, baked goods, sweets and alcohol.
So why are we trying to pretend it’s any different by restricting our choices?
The answer is that we shouldn’t be. At Refocus Nutrition, we’re focused on an 80/20 ratio where 80 per cent of the time we’re aiming to make strong nutritional decisions with real foods and 20 per cent of the time, we’re allowed to eat more of the things we often consider bad foods or junk foods.
Let’s face it, a restricted diet hasn’t worked for anyone long term in probably the history of the world. It may work temporarily but after restricting yourself from sweets, I’m sure you fell of the wagon at some point and binged on what you thought would make you fat and kill your progress and further damaged your relationship with food.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Find a way to put those “bad foods” into your diet consistently but in moderation. It might not mean having an entire pint of ice cream, but why not a small bowl? No it WILL NOT prevent you from losing weight, gaining a six-pack of abs or hitting a new PR in the gym, no matter what anyone else has told you.
And lastly, know that even moderation, at times needs moderation. There will be days within the year that you want to go completely off the deep end and eat way beyond what you should in one day. The fact of the matter is if you were to do that four days a month for the entire year, it would only account to just over 10 per cent of the year. That’s nothing. You can create a lot of success in the other 90 per cent that means a lot more than a couple days a month.
A former journalist and sports blogger, I've turned my writing prowess and love of fitness and nutrition into a personal blog where you can find anything you are looking for on the world of health, nutrition and fitness.