Okay, so let’s just say you find yourself at a time in your life where change is thrust upon you: pregnancy or a new baby; unemployment or re-deployment; a move or a separation, kids leaving home or coming home; or…I dunno…a world pandemic? Just as an example.
It’s at times like this when your mind is focused on stuff other than “does my bum look big in this?” Day 2 of isolation during these COVID-19 days and I’ve moved on from “maybe we should have done that panic buying thing after all…” to “okay, I’m ready to adapt and embrace the new normal.”
For any major life event that takes you away from your routine, once you’ve processed it, accepted it and are ready to adapt; I hope you can consider that maybe this is in fact the IDEAL time to make some changes to your life that will serve you, your happiness and your health. Hell, everything else has gone nuts, may as well take charge of the situation and turn it around to your advantage.
There are 5 key areas that are the corner stones of your health: movement, sleep, stress management, connection to friends and family annnnddd…nutrition. I’m here for you on that last one.
Back to basics, if you want to improve your nutrition so that it is focused on your health and well-being these are the areas you need to consider:
- What you eat:
Right now, shut your eyes and give yourself around 1 minute to think of what is important when you’re considering your choice of food and drink….
*check in at the end to see if we’re on the same page….
- How much you eat:
Work out how many calories you need for your life. If you want to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit of around 500-700kcals/day. That’s IT; anymore and it won’t be fat you’re losing…it will be muscle and water too; and anyhow it won’t be anything like fun. It will be miserable, self-deprivating and essentially, it won’t last. Don’t go there. Now everyone is different; if you were my client we would do some hefty calculations here but for you, a good way to gauge it is to use this online calculator which will give you a general idea.
- When you eat:
Does intermittent fasting work for you? GREAT! Does skipping breakfast work for you? YAY! Does eating 3 square meals a day work for you? FAB! Does having 6 small meals a day work for you? Awesome. You know, what…do what works for you. If you get to 4pm and want to eat every biscuit and chocolate bar in sight, that’s a good sign the timing of your meals is off. If you can’t sleep because you’re hungry; if you fail to get faster or go the distance on your run; If you can’t stomach another spoonful of porridge first thing in the morning…then these are all signs you might want to experiment with the timings of your meals and snacks. Just that.
- Why you eat:
A client told me that on days when he is working on site, he doesn’t even think about food or hunger; but on days when he’s desk bound in the office, he snacks A LOT. Boredom and an environment that gives you easy access to food = overeating. You can either change the boredom factor or manage your environment to alter this. Will power, as all behavioural scientists will tell you, is finite – so don’t feel weak-willed or like a failure if your day job is one big yawn, the biscuits in your desk start talking to you and you start shovelling them in your mouth like the Cookie Monster. That’s just how it is, so think beyond testing your strength of will and start planning days that get you going and/or hacking your environment (See my post Go Neo On Your Health).
*let’s head back to that WHAT you eat activity I set you. Did you think of any of the following:
- Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit.
- Eating a variety of whole foods.
- Wholegrains over processed/refined grains: brown, wild, black rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, barley etc over white rice, white pasta, bread made from refined and processed ingredients.
- Lean protein.
- Favouring unsaturated fats over saturated fats and avoiding trans fats altogether.
- Staying hydrated.
- Going easy on sugar, salt, alcohol.
If you did. You nailed it! If you didn’t…all of the above.