There’s no denying that staying healthy has been an overarching theme of 2020. With the holidays approaching and the COVID-19 pandemic still as threatening as ever, nutrition is at utmost important as we head into the remainder of the year. For that reason, our experts devised a list of top 5 nutritional commitments to make as non-negotiables to help keep on track both mentally and physically over the next six weeks and beyond.
Make a plan
Any Nutrition Coach will agree, planning is the most important part of creating and maintaining healthy nutritional habits. Whether it is developing a specific nutrition plan to reach a goal, or simply thinking ahead of the week’s meals, a plan of any type is crucial to keeping on track. A daily plan can look like predetermined set of meals that hits a calorie and/or macronutrient goal or grocery shopping with a specific list prepared to help limit impulse buys and keep from veering too far off of a weekly meal plan. Food prepping, either towards the beginning of the week and/or mid-week is a typical go-to plan for many people hoping to stick to a specific nutrition protocol. Regardless, having a general sense of meals per day and week can help limit the last-minute “starving scramble” for the nearest snack. Over time, a plan will pay off in the form of sustainable habits and results towards a health goal.
Follow your gut
Gut health is a dominant topic in health these days, with numerous studies revealing the link between what we eat and intestinal health – and how to keep a healthy balance of bacteria as a part of a well-functioning microbiome. Fill up on high-fiber whole sources of food and fermented foods when possible. But don’t just follow your physical “gut.” Your intuition can be powerful when it comes to making healthy nutritional decisions. The body and mind are connected in ways we still don’t quite comprehend. One thing is true, however: our mind and bodies were designed to provide constant feedback to one another. Its built-in intelligence is smarter than our logical brain when it comes to understanding fundamental nutritional needs. Case in point: hormones in the stomach detect fulness and signal to the brain to stop eating. It’s crucial to become aware and in-tune to these innate functions to begin to trust the body’s knowledge for what it needs and doesn’t need.
Nix processed foods
It should come as no surprise that optimizing nutrition means limiting the intake of processed foods. Why? They are often laden with chemical preservatives, added sugar, oils and salt. The body also does not recognize many of the foreign substances that go unregulated in the food system, which can cause extra inflammation – and chronic inflammation if processed food intake becomes a habit. A go-to tip from the experts: shop the perimeter of the grocery store to focus more on fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-quality sources of lean protein. Also, if you can’t pronounce ingredients on a food product, it is probably a good idea to leave it be.
Hydrate more than ever
Water is a fundamental source of life – and a nutrition plan. Getting enough water is essential to almost all functions of the body. Without adequate hydration, mineral balance can be disrupted which limits cell functioning. Also, dehydration can lead to loss of energy. Typically, when the body senses low energy, it signals the need to eat food to replenish energy stores. Not drinking enough water can therefore lead to an increase of food intake and unintended calories. Adults need about 12-16 cups of water each day depending on sex. One of the most helpful tips for increasing water intake is to keep a water bottle or glass in eye-shot at all times, prompting a visual cue to drink water periodically throughout the day.
Save room for fun
What’s life without a bit of indulgence? Sticking to a strict plan may run the risk of binge eating behaviors if it is too restrictive. That, coupled with any added stress trying to be “perfect” can send any good intentions for health improvement down the drain. A tip from our experts: loosen up a little. Stick to eating “on-plan” (or an intuitive healthy eating protocol) 80-90% of the time, then save some room to allow yourself to indulge in a craving. This approach can help turn a plan into a healthy lifestyle by being more sustainable and honestly, more enjoyable.
Curious about your optimal nutrition plan? Grab a consultation with our Nutrition Coaches and get started towards your health goals!