Whether you’re trying to lose weight, increase strength, tone up, or just be healthier than you are now you are, more than likely, going to change your diet. It’s not easy but you’re going to give it a shot. For most you there will be some success in the first few weeks and months. However, reaching your final goals always seems just out arms reach and, in some cases, a mile down the road. I’m not here to give you the answer to “end all be all” diet problem. There are a thousand different ways to improve your health through nutrition. I’m not going to list a thousand ways to help you. I’m going to give you five. Choose the diet you wish to follow but notice whether or not you factor in these 5 key traits. If not, you’re doing it wrong. And, yes, these 5 characteristics apply to ALL nutrition programs. Let’s begin.
- PEOPLE TEND TO CARE ABOUT THEIR FOOD AND WHAT THEY’RE EATING
This does NOT mean, “pay attention to what you eat.” I’ve actually met clients who kept eating the same foods but justified in their minds that “it’s healthy” because of X, Y, and Z, and this is AFTER we’ve discussed the reasons why it wasn’t nutritious. Caring about your food is referring to your ability to really understand what you’re eating. Studies have shown people who make considerate and deliberate decisions about their food choices tend to eat a healthier diet. “Thinking” the food is healthy doesn’t make it healthy.
- GIVE ATTENTION TO FOOD QUALITY
When was the last time you heard someone say, “eat this high processed, nutrient depleted food for better health”? Probably never. Paleo, vegan, Mediterranean, it doesn’t matter. All healthy diets around the world focus on eating nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods. Quality of food beats your macro counting any day of the week….and twice on Sunday.
- ENHANCE NUTRIENT INTAKE AND REDUCE NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES
Following the two rules above eventually leads to better and more varied nutrient intake. Better nutrient intake, typically, leads to improved health, stronger immune function, and overall wellbeing. Has someone ever told you how great he or she felt after starting a new diet, how they had more energy, and fell ill less often? Their new diet isn’t anything special from another healthy diet. They simply got out of a nutrient deficit and their bodies loved them for it.
- BETTER APPETITE CONTROL AND FOOD INTAKE
Building on the three previous characteristics of good nutrition, persons on a healthy diet tend to eat less and have fewer cravings. Why? Good quality, minimally processed, nutrient dense food is very satisfying, both physically and mentally. We tend to eat more slowly, savor the taste, and consume more fiber, which satiates our hunger hormone ghrelin. This beat calorie counting in nearly every circumstance.
- PROMOTES REGULAR EXERCISE
You might be thinking, “people who eat their version of a healthy diet in 2nd and 3rd world countries don’t exercise.” You are correct. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about your buddy in the cubicle beside you who ran 5 miles that morning before coming into work or your manager who lifts weight 3-4x week after work instead of going to happy hour. More often than not people who follow a healthy nutrition plan want to see how that diet is improving other aspects of their life or vice versa (i.e. how their performance could improve if they ate a healthier diet). Besides, good nutrition with minimal exercise can only work up to a certain point. Eventually, you’ll need to move more often.