A SIMPLE Plan To Better Eating
I’ve been thinking about changing my name to Siri. Especially after a coaching session I had last week with someone who wanted to lose weight.
When I meet someone for their first session, I walk them through a very intentional discovery process so I can get to know them better. I need to understand their past, present, and future to help them change their habits and reach their goals. But sometimes, clients don’t want to answer questions.
They just want to ask them.
Sometimes, coaching sessions feel like a pinball game, with my only goal to prevent the ball from dropping through the perilous hole. With rapid fire questioning, I’m drilled about what food is “good” and “bad.” I’m bounced from one “danger” food to another with no specific direction or intentional path.
I don’t like to play this game.
One recent session was like this. No matter how hard I tried, I simply could not get the discovery conversation back on track. When I’d ask a question, I’d get interrupted with “what I really want to know is…” I spent most of my time saying, “it depends,” and trying to explain why.
After 40 minutes, fighting back complete exasperation (and exhaustion), I said, “Let me make this very simple. If it grows in the ground or a tree, eat it. Eat it in abundance.”
Two breaths later, she asked, “So, what about Lean Cuisine?”
You can’t make this up.
I continued to get peppered with non-plant and non-tree based food questions. When I ran into her again on my way out of the building, she asked, “What about Diet Coke?”
I wanted to ask, “Does Diet Coke grow on a tree?” I didn’t.
We’ve overcomplicated it. There’s no secret formula or perfect combination of foods that will lead you to your ideal body weight. It’s really quite simple. Journalist Michael Pollan, said it this way:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
He’s right. It really is that simple.
But, let me fill in the gaps just a little bit more.
Here’s the acronym I’ve come up with for making healthy choices simple:
- S – slow down. In our drive-thru world, it’s easy to eat on the run. Even healthy food can cause indigestion if eaten too quickly. Sit for 20 minutes (or more) at a meal time, chew your food 20 times before swallowing, or wake 20 minutes earlier to enjoy breakfast instead of rushing out the door.
- I – investigate. If it has a label, can you pronounce the ingredients? Do you know what they are? If you can’t, put it back on the shelf. Better yet, avoid the labels. An apple is an apple. A pear is a pear. Real food doesn’t need labels, but when the occasion calls for a can or a box, know what’s in it.
- M – measure. Use your hand as your portion guide. A clenched fist is a cup of fruits, veggies, and carbs. An open palm is a protein serving. Your thumb is a serving of healthy fat (yes, including peanut butter!). You don’t need calorie counting, points, or scales to eat what your body needs. Your body is your guide.
- P – phytonutrients (aka – plants). Eat them. Lots of them. If it grows in the ground or a tree, it’s ideal for meeting the bulk of your body’s nutritional needs. Think Garden of Eden. If it grew there or roamed there, God made it just for you. Just be careful for that one apple…
- L – lean proteins. Grass fed beef, chicken, fish, salmon, and pork all provide a variety of awesome protein sources for your body. If you’re a woman who wants to give your metabolism a kick in the pants, protein is your best friend. Along with healthy fats. Incorporate it into every meal and snack, every day.
- E – eat regularly. Schedule your day to include food every 2-4 hour throughout the day. Your blood sugar levels (and energy) stay steady, cravings stay at bay, and you’ll be less likely to overeat in the evening, when your body is demanding food! Find a way to make this work in your schedule as much as possible.
It really can be SIMPLE.
Yes, there are nuances to food. There are fruits that have less sugar, proteins that are more lean than others, carbs that are more nutrient dense, etc. And there are times when this matters.
But most of the time it doesn’t. If you’re looking for a solid foundation, without overcomplicating and overwhelming yourself with a whole lot of eat this, not that, think simple.
I’m more than happy to answer questions and provide clarity in a nutritional world that has been made very, very confusing. I do it every day as a nutrition coach.
I’d just rather not be a nutritional encyclopedia.