Changing Nutritional Habits

As with changing habits in general, changing nutritional habits can be as daunting but as I dedicated a full blog post to: it doesn’t and shouldn’t be that complicated. As soon as a diet is too complicated to follow and as soon as habits won’t suit your lifestyle – why do it? To make small nutritional changes that won’t over complicate your life is the sustainable way to making changes and that is the golden rule that I wish that I knew when I wanted to improve my nutrition years back. But I didn’t know, and when trying to do my own research I felt like it was a complete jungle out there –  social media, YouTube, Google, country specific dietary recommendations, nutritionists, athletes and nutrition books were all giving me different information and very often conflicting information. Even dieticians and researchers were often giving out conflicting information depending on where I looked.  And probably none of these people are completely incorrect in their claims (unless they are a Z-celebrity and promoting a tea that will make you skinny, then they are completely incorrect and an airhead) because probably the method they are preaching worked and works for them. But as we have touched upon several times already, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another person.

So what is actually the best diet? Well, the best diet is one that works for you and that you can stick to. If you love carbs and your favourite breakfast choice is porridge oats, why would you then go on a “low-carb” diet because you have heard it will give you quick results? If you love eating chocolate, why would you deprive yourself from having chocolate? Wouldn’t those choices just make you extremely unhappy and why would we want to live an unhappy life? When making a commitment to yourself to make a lifestyle change, that is a promise you are making yourself. And as much as you know you should not break a promise to a friend you should not break a promise to yourself. So therefore, you have to be careful what you are committing to and what promises you are making. Make sure those are in line with what you can keep so that you don’t let yourself down.

So before doing any nutritional changes ask yourself these questions: What do you want to change? What are you willing to change? What are you willing to do long term? What are you not willing to change?  Answering those questions honestly is a good starting point because as for most nutritional changes to be made there will be a trade-off and you might not be willing to sacrifice those trade-offs. For example – if your goal is to achieve a low body fat percentage are you willing to sacrifice the Friday night pub crawl, the desserts on Saturday and the brunch on Sunday? Maybe you are willing to sacrifice one out of those things but then maybe you need to downgrade your goal slightly. And I say it again – regardless of the goal you may think you have right now, make sure that it makes you happy in the long run and that it doesn’t affect your quality of life.

So starting small and making small changes sound like a good start right? That way you can think of what works for you, and not what someone else is experiencing on social media. And here is the point where things don’t have to get complicated. Look around you and look at changes that you can make today and that you know you can keep tomorrow, next week, the week after, into next month and into next year. Maybe you are having full fat milk in your coffee and you can exchange this with low fat, maybe you are having bread with cheese and butter for breakfast but you are willing to exchange this with porridge, maybe you are willing to start snacking on popcorn to your Saturday evening movie instead of snacking on crisps. Maybe you don’t really know at this point what you can change for the better and then a good starting point would be to keep a food journal for a couple of days to see what you are eating and when. After a couple of days you can analyse this and start making small changes. And when those changes have been made and are easy – move on to the next change and then slowly add on those until you feel that you have reached a good nutritional balance that works for you and for your everyday life.

Finally – what does a good, balance nutritional diet look like? It should make you feel alert and energised during the day, it should support your brain throughout your working hours, it should support your muscles when exercising, it should make you sleep good at night, it should make you feel good in your own skin and how you look. What a diet should NOT look like is that you are tired during the day, having trouble sleeping, feeling anxious for no reason, feeling sluggish and feeling uncomfortable with your own body. We only have one body and we owe it to ourselves to do our best to support our physical and mental needs with the best nutrition possible. 


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