People often tell me they know what they should eat, but they don’t have the willpower to do it. This usually is not the case.
Many people who tell me this don’t know all of the specific foods and eating habits that do or don’t serve their unique needs and challenges. And, they don’t realize that their willpower is highly dependent on their body chemistry and not just mental determination.
When your moods are fluctuating from unstable blood sugar, your brain is foggy from food reactions, and your weak digestion is causing a toxic fatigue that saps your motivation, you’re swimming upstream! Many of my clients are surprised to find how well their willpower can work when they find the foods that agree with them, establish a stable eating pattern, and do those things that support their digestion. They no longer have to fight the levels of irritability, restlessness, fatigue, cravings and loss of mental focus that undermine willpower.
Four Components of a Successful Eating Pattern
1. WHEN you eat.
Meals and snacks need to be thoughtfully timed. In order to have sustained energy, greater mental alertness and reduced cravings, meals and snacks need to be strategically placed around periods of digestion, exercise and sleep. Good timing keeps blood sugar stable and nutrients moving into our cells at a steady rate; these both affect stamina and alertness. Poor timing of meals and snacks can undermine our daily well-being. Finding the best pattern of eating for our individual needs can make a significant difference in how we feel.
2. WHAT you eat.
Reduce or avoid foods your body doesn’t like. Everyone has foods that agree or disagree with their digestive and/or immune systems. We often don’t know what these foods are, because food reactions can be subtle, delayed, inconsistent and hard to track. A food sensitivy can be due to an allergy-immune response, other intolerances such as lactose intolerance, our unique genetics that can affect how we metabolize a food, or difficulty digesting specific foods. Guided experimentation with foods can reveal what our best foods are, and the ones we need to avoid or limit.
Balance carbs, proteins and fats. Balancing these major components of food is a core part of healthy eating. When Grandma put a baked chicken thigh, winter squash, butter, plenty of green beans and a small salad on our plate, she was taking care of that balance. There are lots of food combinations that can fit the bill. It’s easy to learn the general ratio of these 3 macronutrients in foods and about how much of each you need, so you can put together the best balance for you at every meal and snack without counting or measuring.
3. HOW MUCH you eat.
Learn your own best portion sizes. It’s easy to do without measuring. It takes a little practice and then you’re set for life! You can learn your best baseline portions and adjust them up or down when your activity level or time between meals changes.
4. The QUALITY of foods you eat.
Many of our foods have been altered so much that nearly every food you can think of has versions that can support your health and versions that can undermine it. For example, grain-fed beef and grass-fed beef are two different foods; grain-fed beef is high in Omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory, which connects beef to cardiovascular disease) while grass-fed beef is high in Omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory, which supports cardiovascular health). You can become more discerning about which types and brands of foods you buy to ensure that you have a high quality diet. And, high quality foods usually taste better!