“Eat minimally processed whole foods” how many times have you heard that before? Probably as many times as, “Eat fruits and vegetables and stay away from ‘junk food’.” Another recently popular one is Crossfit Inc.’s: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, and keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” The previous statements provide useful advice for many, though not all. Even those who it is useful for, it is only sort of useful. The statements tell us ‘What’, but not ‘How’.
Most people already know that eating minimally processed whole foods and avoiding high caloric low nutrient dense foods is what’s healthy and ideal for the human body. But knowing ‘What” is not enough. We need to know ‘How’ to accomplish this. Remember “Who, What, When, Where, How”? Let’s check it out.
Who? You, me, your family, society, human beings.
What? Eat sustainably healthy.
When? Now, always and forever.
Where? Anywhere and everywhere.
How? Keep reading ;).
Start with ‘Why’. Why do you personally want to eat healthy? You don’t want to eat healthy? Why not? Knowing why will be the make or break of your mission. This applies to nutrition and any other endeavor in your life. Do the following exercise to figure out your why:
Ask “Why?” five times.
- Why do I want healthy sustainable nutrition?
- To be healthy.
- Why do I want to be healthy?
- To be a productive functioning member of society.
- Why do I want to be a productive functioning member of society?
- To make the world a better place for my kids and future generations (so cliche).
- Why is that important?
- So that when I’m no longer around I will be thought of as a contributor to a better life.
- Why do I want that?
- I want to feel like my presence and time here is for a good reason and not just for the passing of time and life itself.
Well that went deep. By just asking myself “Why” five times, I went from “To be healthy” to “I want to feel like my presence and time here is for a good reason and not just for the passing of time and life itself.” My first ‘why’ was pretty vague and monotone, even uninspiring. If I use “To be healthy” as my reason to eat healthy, I will quickly lose the battle to a box of twinkies or extra large pepperoni pizza (no pineapple). But if I remember the deeper ‘why’ I will more easily move past the snacks aisle (sorry tide pods), and head over to healthy minimally processed whole foods.
Okay, so I just have to have an inspiring why and I’m set? Not quite. Your why will help you stay disciplined during times of struggle and temptation. Your habits however will help you stay out of struggle and temptation as much as possible. Now we can talk about the ‘How”.
Berardi’s First Law states: If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it. … If a healthy food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it.
Meaning that if your fridge is full of fruits, veggies, and lean meats, it is likely that that will be the meal or snack of choice. On the other hand if your pantry is filled with sweets, cookies, processed and canned goods, that will likely triumph over broccoli and kale. The best way to avoid making unhealthy food choices is to not give yourself the choice in the first place. To do this use the following tips:
- Make a grocery shopping list (after you’ve eaten).
- Stick to the list when grocery shopping (also go with a full stomach).
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid unhealthy aisles such as cereals, cookies, and other snacks.
- Leave the healthiest foods at the most accessible parts of your kitchen.
- For example instead of hiding your veggies in your fridge, place them where they will be the first thing you see as you open the fridge every time.
- Plan your meals ahead of time and have them prepped if possible.
- If you know you’ll have a busy work day or week, plan ahead and get your food prepped and rationed. This way you won’t have to think about what to eat when you’re hangry.
- Finally, delete any and all meal delivery services (UberEats, DoorDash, Pizza Hut, etc.).
- This doesn’t mean you can’t have take out every once in a while, but if you have the apps or phone numbers easily at your disposal you are making it much easier to choose that over a delicious chicken salad.
It is also important to state that your food intake should be dictated by what you want to accomplish. Whether it’s improving athletic performance, increasing muscle mass, dropping body fat, saving the animals and environment, etc. No one diet or eating lifestyle will fit every single person’s needs and desires. Make sure that the diet (diet = way of eating, diet ≠ deficit caloric intake) you choose to follow aligns with your goals. It’s also okay to shift goals throughout your life and therefore shift your way of eating. Nothing is set in stone except for fossils.
The final and best piece of advice I can give you when it comes to nutrition is to hire and work with a dietician or nutrition coach. You are unique in the way your body functions, your lifestyle, routine, and struggles. You can read books, blogs, articles, listen to podcasts, watch videos on youtube, etc. But working one on one with a professional will yield the quickest and healthiest progress towards fulfilling your true Why.