What is Sustainable Nutrition?
Sustainable Nutrition (SN), the ability to eat healthy and stay fit for a lifetime. The keyword here is “lifetime”. Sure anyone of us can go on a “6 Week Quick Fix Diet”. Restricting calories, carbs, and/or fats for a short period of time is very doable for anyone that’s highly motivated to reach certain fitness goals. What will happen when the motivation wears off though? When the 6 weeks are over? Or even worse, when you finally reach your “goal weight”?! Well most likely you will fall back to your old habits and eventually get back to where you began. This is as undesirable for anyone as it is unhealthy mentally, emotionally, and physically. This is also when and where SN becomes the hero of our story. The ability to stay healthy, fit, sane, and happy among many other benefits for a lifetime.
Sustainable Nutrition, is teaching your body to eat the right foods, at the right times, the right ways. Eating the right foods refers to minimally processed whole foods. There is a lot more foods than just broccoli, chicken, and rice. It is important to eat a variety of all, each in appropriate amounts. Believe it or not, there are times when certain meals will benefit you the most, midnight snacking is usually not one of them. Although hot dog eating contests are really cool and exciting, they are not the best way to approach the dinner table. Slow down your eating and stop at 80% full, no need to feel STUFFED afterwards.
Sustainable Nutrition promotes enjoying meals, yes all meals. Just like you learned to love your bedtime you can also learn to love more veggies and less sugar. This doesn’t mean that the occasional dessert or treat is banned. It is just limited from excess amounts. Comedian Gabriel Iglesias AKA Fluffy tells a funny story.
“My friend told me I need to stop eating so much and get on a diet.
I told him ‘HELL NO!’
Then he asked, ‘But Gabriel don’t you want to live to be 100 years old?’
‘Not if I can’t have cake I don’t!’”.
Gabriel is right though! What life is worth living that is absent of nice soft sweet chocolate cake? Gabriel’s problem is not eating chocolate cake. His problem is eating THE chocolate cake! Why eat a whole cake, when just a slice will give you the same pleasurable sensation without the negative effects of eating the whole cake? Think about the last time you choked down a whole pizza (or one of your favorite foods). How did you feel afterwards? Most likely pretty crappy. It’s almost as if it wasn’t even enjoyable anymore. When you could have had 1-3 slices, enjoyed the taste bud pleasure it provides and moved on feeling great still.
This brings me to my next point, quality of life and longevity.What good is it to live to be 100 if by 60 (or sooner) you are dependent on meds and caregivers? Wouldn’t you rather rely on your meals and hobbies to keep you functioning and alive? We must enjoy our lives, it’s the best way to live. If we take care of ourselves we can then take care of others. So while we are eating enough portions of fruits, veggies, protein, healthy fats and complex carbs, we are also enjoying the occasional drink at family gatherings or going out with friends. Eating stress free and enjoying the special moments that life brings us. Remember that not even elite level athletes eat 100% clean meals 100% of the time. It simply is not sustainable. Sure during their competing seasons they may be 100% on task, but even they take breaks during the year to stay healthy and prevent burning out.
There is a place for calorie counting and food restrictions, just not in the long haul. Instead of going into that next restrictive diet challenge, begin building healthy habits. Such as eating until 80% full, slowing down to chew your food, add a serving or two of veggies to your meals, having one slice of cake instead of the whole thing, etc. Stay tuned for more about sustainable nutrition, habit building, portion control, and other cool fitness tips. For now enjoy your broccoli soup with a side of squats.