Written by Elijah Christie
You know your diet needs some work, but where do you start? There is so much info out there, diets to follow, things to cut out, foods to add in. It really seems like mission impossible. So how do we simplify, and break this up into digestible chunks? Im going to give you three ways to start fixing your broken diet.
You don’t need a complete overhaul. You don’t need to cut out sugar, go low carb, eat paleo, and drink your greens all at once, along with exercising 6 days a week. Most people feel crappy because their body’s physiology is not working correctly. Why isn’t it working correctly? Nutrient deficiencies. Almost everybody, regardless of how good they think their diet is, is missing out on key nutrients that help their bodies function properly. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that it’s really hard to get all the essential vitamins and minerals from food alone. The most common nutrient deficiencies I see are the following; water/hydration, vitamins/minerals, lack of protein (especially in women and men with low appetite) and essential fatty acids. So how do we take care of these common deficiencies? We keep it simple. Start drinking more hydrating liquids (WATER,) add in a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein sources into your diet.
Now that we have begun getting the essential raw materials we need to thrive we can start focusing on food intake—what and how much. Sure, we can count our calories, and measure out all our food. But in reality that is never going to help us tune into our bodies and become aware of our needs. So how can we portion our meals in a simple yet effective way? We can use our hands as guidelines. Men can start with two palms of protein dense foods at each meal, two fists of vegetables at each meal, two cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at most meals and two thumbs of fat dense foods at most meals. Women can do this same thing but start with one handful/fist/thumb of each. This is our startingpoint. You still need to tune into your body and pay attention to your hunger cues. Did you feel satiated, energized, or maybe stuffed and bogged down after that meal? Adjust accordingly.
Ok now that we have addressed eliminating nutrient deficiencies and managing our calorie intake without counting we can start to fine tune. We can start talking about things like food composition based on body type. Most people can be divided into 3 body types. There are ectomorphs: Naturally thin and lean, can seemingly eat everything and typically tolerate carbohydrates very well. They have lots of energy, fast metabolisms and cant seem to stop moving. Then we have mesomorphs: Naturally athletic, they put on muscle easier than most and do great with a balanced approach. They seem to take excess calories and turn them to lean muscle. Lastly we have endomorphs: Naturally larger individuals that seem to put on weight easy and typically do not tolerate carbs well. Their engine tends to sit at idle and are naturally less active. If we can identify our body type we can start to adjust the composition of our food. For example, ectomorphs could begin by adding an additional handful of carbs to their plate at each meal.
Remember, there is no secret formula, there is no perfect approach or blueprint that will work for everyone. If you want to be successful long term, you need to connect with your body, pay more attention at meal time, understand what makes you feel good, and understand your hunger cues. This takes time, this takes practice. You can’t expect to be a master of your nutrition over night.