All of us struggle from time to time to eat well. Often, the issue is not that we don’t know what to eat but that we haven’t made good nutrition personal. Instead, we hop from diet to diet in the hope of finding something that fits our needs. According to Helene Patounas, a Formula 1 nutritionist and Hintsa performance coach, changing your eating habits comes down to four main points. Patounas calls this “developing a nutrition philosophy.” She writes, “Having my own nutrition philosophy equates to freedom for me. I feel totally liberated from the food rules of various diets I have been on in the past. I now just do ‘me.’”
Perform a SWOT analysis. Many people have heard of a SWOT analysis for business. It is a method of strategically identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is no different for personalized nutrition. For example, a strength might be that you love tomatoes when they are in season, but a weakness might be that you eat out three or more days per week. An opportunity might be that your spouse is a good cook, but a threat might be that you frequently travel for work. Just like a business analysis, map out what your eating habits look like and use this information to formulate a plan objectively.
Determine your values on food and nutrition. Do you eat strictly for nutritional value, or do you eat mainly for comfort? What do you want to achieve from food? Are you an emotional eater? Many people are often overfed and undernourished, writes Patounas. “Undernourishment can result from a mismatch between food values and eating habits.” Once you determine why you truly eat, you can begin to build a better relationship with food. Food can be enjoyed while still giving us sustenance and nourishment. Conversely, it should not be a temporary fix for unchecked emotions, which can lead to a negative cycle of cravings and overeating.
Chrononutrition. Chrononutrition is just a fancy way of saying food timing or when we eat. Having an eating schedule is important for health and consistency. Plan 2-3 meals that you eat at the same time every day. Don’t eat between meals. These mini-fasts give your digestive system time to do its job. Don’t snack after dinner, but choose low carb, high protein snacks if you do. Plan ahead when traveling or have a busy schedule. Finding healthy snacks on the road or when overly busy can be difficult.
Listen to your body. Many of us rarely, if ever, have a chance to feel hungry. Often, what we perceive as hunger is not our body needing nourishment but actually our mind trying to fill a void of boredom or emotional need. Before we grab that sandwich or bag of chips, we need to take a moment and ask ourselves if we are actually hungry. Is our stomach rumbling? Do we really need to eat something to function properly? Feeling hungry can be a good thing and is just a way to be better tuned into our physical needs.
For more information on developing a fitness program or if you are interested in online training, feel free to message me on my website, Bellomofitness.com.