I have sat down in front of my keyboard no less than 10 times trying to write this post, and each time I find myself paralyzed by the enormity of the subject.
Healthy eating is a monster topic (one which I tackle in Clean Eating 101 in much more depth) but once I reminded myself that (just like with my awesomesauce fitness tips) eating better is an iterative process that slowly refines itself over time, I decided that the only way to do this was to start with the basics and go from there.
Eating right, and enjoying the food as you do it, becomes increasingly more and more difficult as the years go by… it is hard, and I sympathize with each and every one of you but we will get through it!
I Will Help You Eat Better and Enjoy It!
The reality is that most people already know a few ways they could eat better, this is not groundbreaking stuff in the least.
Yes, every year there is flip-flopping in the nutrition community about the specific benefits/pitfalls of eating certain types of food, but the reality is the basics never change!
Having a reasonably healthy diet does not mean you can’t have food you love, it doesn’t mean only eating salads, it doesn’t mean never having a cupcake… what it means is eating a reasonable balance of different types of foods, and only eating what you need (no over-NomNomNom’ing even when it is healthy food).
It truly is that simple.
You want the keys to a healthy life? Here they are:
- Move around; don’t be sedentary
- Only eat when your body needs it; not when you are bored or stressed
- Eat a wide spectrum of healthy foods; but don’t be afraid to give yourself the occasional treat
- Don’t put chemicals into your body if you can avoid it
There you go.
No magic, no precise measurements of Omega-3s or antioxidants, no exact ratios of protein to carbs, just 5 simple things that if followed will amount to a reasonable level of health.
Can we be more specific? Of course we can! Focusing in and targeting the areas you need to work on is a necessity but as I said before this needs to be an iterative process.
Every single person reading this could benefit from a one-on-one coaching session (Including me, your old pal The Mighty Jerd! I slip and toss back the occasional Sausalito cookie in a fit of boredom eating… Mmmmm Sausalitos… ) but all I can do from the Jerd Cave is offer up blanket advice and hope that you take it to heart and figure out for yourself where you can improve.
Know Your Weakness, and Then Crush it Like a Lvl 1 Goblin Minion!
You are all intelligent people, I don’t doubt this.
So why is it so hard to do something as simple as eat right?
I think the problem is three-fold.
- Life moves so fast these days; convenience rules the day and it is sometimes easier to eat something fast, and generally crappy for you, than to take the extra 10-15 minutes to make something worth shoveling into your face.
- Impulse control.
- In a world where information is so readily available, and inundates us from so many directions/mediums, it is easy to succumb to “analysis paralysis.” Having so much conflicting data at our fingertips can make it so hard to decide exactly what is the correct course of action, so we just don’t do anything.
For me, my weaknesses are a little #1 and a bit #2. If snack food is in the house and I am bored, I will eat it. I know this about myself, so the easiest way to avoid this trap is to keep it out of my home.
The second is reminding myself to shop; it is easy to get so caught up every day with work and obligations that I forget to fill my refrigerator with fresh and healthy food. I am constantly fighting life, laziness and the fallback plan of takeout or microwaved food.
It’s hard. I am not going to sit here and tell you it isn’t.
I will say that you need to respect yourself enough to always endeavor to do a little better!
I keep saying, your diet (Your regular intake of food; not some short-term quick-fix nonsense) is something that should constantly evolve based on the circumstances of your life.
Example – When I have a big competition I completely change my diet for the month leading up to it, I eat like an athlete and am super careful about every little ingredient; the rest of the time I just try to eat reasonably healthy and not worry so much about it.
So what about the average Joe you ask?
Well it depends; take stock of your eating habits now (and be honest dammit!) and then make yourself a promise to do a little better this week, then next week, and the week after… over and over again until you are eating reasonably well.
If you are eating relatively healthy and exercising on a regular basis you will feel better, look better and probably live a lot longer. I promise!
This doesn’t have to be a drastic change!
In fact, I believe most people do better when they gradually ease into life changes bit by bit. I don’t expect you to go from eating junk food and swilling soda all day long to eating 5 properly mapped out meals a day, with a meticulously thought out protein-carb-veggie balance overnight. That big of a pendulum swing is too hard for many people and will end up just discouraging you and driving you right back to your old eating habits.
If you drink 3 Mountain Dews a day and hit the drive through at the local Fat-Boy-Burgers every night – Trim it back to one soda a day and only hit the fast food every other day. Substitute what you took out with water and a giant chef salad (light on the dressing though!)
If you eat take-out a few nights a week and eat crappy snack food while gaming – Make sure you are ordering food that is high in vegetable content and lean proteins (light on the sauces!) and every other time you game, substitute fresh fruit for the bag of Doritos.
If you eat a good balance of lean proteins, whole grains and vegetables/fruits and are working out regularly – Try to optimize your eating schedule so you get the best results from your commitment to healthy living (see this article on scheduling your workouts for advice)!
No matter who you are, there are ways to improve!
So be sure to watch the “Iron Rations” series of articles here for some specific diet tips and some of my favorite recipes for eating healthy. In the meantime just remember:
- Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit (Iceberg lettuce doesn’t count and corn is not a vegetable goddammit!). I guarantee 99.99% of you don’t eat enough of them.
- Proteins should be lean.
- Stop eating fried food no matter how good it tastes!
- Limit yourself to a few indulgences a week.
- Cut the white out of your diet. Rice, bread, sugar, etc… get rid of it.
Now let’s start making a positive change!
Questions? Concerns? Comments? You know what to do… leave me a note below!
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