Habits to Sink Your Teeth Into

Happy New Year everyone!  We hope you have a great 2017 filled with happiness and success.  

Our first blog post of the New Year will focus on, what else, HABITS, and in particular how you can implement easy habits as it pertains to Nutritional choices.  

Please do not get these habits confused with RESOLUTIONS.  You know those things that you try to do until January 17th and then conveniently forget until March 3rd and then realize it is too late and 2018 is just around the corner anyway.  So what is the difference, and why does it matter?

A habit is defined as: "Routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously"

A resolution on the other hand, is defined as: "A firm decision to do or not to do something"

There is nothing objective about a resolution nor does it typically offer a time table.  It tends not to be specific, and often times not measurable.  For instance in 2017 over 44% of Americans said there #1 resolution was, "To be a better person."  A better person to whom?  Your friends, parents, or co-workers?  A better person when?  On Monday's, when eating lunch, or every month that has 31 days in it?  See how resolutions typically fall by the way side?

A habit on the other hand follows the SMART principles.  That is to say our goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and under a Time period.  Let's say your goal is to run a 5K this year.  Well in order to do that you decide you need to be able to go to the gym 3x per week while increasing the average distance of your runs gradually over 3 months.  Most research says that it takes anywhere between 30-60 days to build a habit and now by the time you run your 5K you are more likely to continue working out and more then likely "up the ante".

So how can we build better habits and make better decisions in 2017 when it comes to our Nutrition?  Here are a few easy steps/suggestions:

  1. Eat Slowly and Stop Eating ~80% Full
    • Yup, that simple.  Eat slower!  A meal should typically take 15-20 minutes to consume.  So rather then trying to fit in as much as you can as quickly as you can, put down the fork between bites, sip your beverage, or perhaps inquire about the other person's life you are sitting with.  (If you are eating alone that is ok, we will cover how to make friends in another post this year.)  The reason for this is that it typically takes about 20 minutes for satiety mechanisms to kick in - meaning the communication between our gut and brain is slow.  So it is easy to consume too much too quickly and left with a feeling of being stuffed.     
  2. Eat Protein Dense Foods with Each Meal
    • Protein is crucial to optimal health, and cell and muscle function.  It aids metabolism and assists with muscle recovery - it is essentially the building block of life!  Contrary to belief that high protein diets are harmful there is no substantial research to support these claims.  So where do you start?  Try to eat a palm size portion of protein dense foods with each meal if your female and 2 palm sizes of protein dense foods if your a male.  
  3. Eat Vegetables with Each Meal
    • Vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals - vegetables have it all.  Furthermore, vegetables and fruit provide an alkaline load to the blood.  It is crucial to balance acidity with alkaline rich foods for such reasons as stress reduction, muscle tone, pain, and overall feeling of well being.  We should all shoot for 2 servings of vegetables with each meal (roughly the size of your fist).  You are counting right, that means anywhere between 8-10 servings per day!  Most of us will have to work gradually to this number while most of us will have to find a way to start with 1.  
  4. For Fat Loss, Eat Most Carbohydrates AFTER Exercise
    • This is a big one.  Let's face it, the North American diet consists largely of carbohydrate rich, processed foods.  Some of us eat "well" then have cheat days, others think we deserve that box of cookies at night since we practiced breathing for 3 minutes in the morning 12 hours before.  You can have that "treat" if you like but try to place it into the diet ~1-2 hours after exercise while your muscles are still looking to intake glycogen (check back in the future when we cover food timing in detail next month) and why it matters.  If you do not work out, you can still eat your carbs - just in the form of fruits and vegtables.
  5. Eat Healthy Fats Daily
    • This may be shocking to most people but fats do not make you fat.  As a matter of fact, you need about 30% of your calories (for MOST people) should come from healthy fats.  Not all fats are created equal, and it's important to keep a BALANCE between fats.  
    • Let's start with Trans Fat - eliminate them yesterday.  Trans fats are becoming harder and harder to come by, as most regulations now forbid restaurants, etc from using trans fats.  BUT if you pick up a label and see trans fats, just place it right back where you took it from.  For people with cardiovascular disease, they also may pay particular attention to ingesting too many saturated fats such as those that come from meat, eggs and dairy.  However, if you balance your saturated fats with mono and poly unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, olive oil, avacado, fish oil, chia/flax seed your diet should be just fine.

Ok got it?  Now where to start?  Pick ONE, yes just ONE, of the suggestions and see if you can stick to it for 30 days.  Place an "x" on your calender for every time you accomplish the task.  If you can get to 90%+ compliance after 30 days of practicing one of the habits you may be ready to add another.

Still having a hard time?  Contact us and let us get you started on the right track with personalized Nutrition Coaching.  

Until next time, Happy Rehabbing!