If you have ever said any of the following; “I really want to get in shape; feel better; get back on track; lose some weight, or tone up.” You probably already understand the nutritional component is going to be essential to success.
For many, that means getting your diet dialed in. But, before we go down that road, I want you to consider something for a few moments.
The word diet is a noun, and the act of dieting is a verb.
This often-overlooked difference is vitally important to your success. In my 20 years of health, fitness, and coaching experience, I’ve consistently found the people most likely to achieve long term success eat a healthy diet and are not dieting.
Here are my top four tips, in order, for helping you improve your diet right now!
Go from the verb to the noun
Plan, Prioritize, and prepare
Choose Higher Quality foods more often
Eat Slowly & Mindfully
The first step to helping you achieve success needs to be going from the verb to the noun.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to a local Girl Scout meeting to talk about healthy eating habits. I opened up my speech with this question, “What does the word diet mean?” I was so excited to hear this answer, “It’s like, just like, what you eat and stuff.” I was stupid excited to hear her answer. I thought going in, they were going to answer with something along the lines of calorie restriction. But nope. That little girl’s response is how I wish adults would answer the question.
Diet is simply what you eat. You can be on a diet of Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies, but I wouldn’t recommend it. By changing your paradigm of diet, you change how you approach food.
The idea of taking time to plan, prioritize, and prepare seems like it will take too long to fit into your busy schedule. That might be so, but what if you started with just five minutes?
Even a five-minute action can have powerful results. For example, in the next five minutes, I want to you do the following:
Minute 1 – Plan out what day or time you will make your next grocery store run and the amount of time required/allowed to shop.
Minute 2 – Think about what events you have coming up that might present you with a less than optimal situation food-wise and create a plan b.
Minute 3 & 4 – Create a list of meals you would like to eat, focusing on whole minimally processed food choices. (More on that in a moment).
Minute 5 – Plan out when you will prepare the food you will purchase, and you will store it for later.
An example of this sounds like this: I will go to the grocery store after I drop the kids off at day-care on Thursday. I will plan on being in the store for 20 minutes and will grab enough food for 8 meals for me, my wife, and two young boys. I’ll grab enough food for three different dinners and leftovers for lunches. I want two chicken dinners and one steak dinner. I’ll cook one of the chicken dinners that night and set up the other chicken dinner for the crock-pot on Friday and let it cook while I’m working because I know we will not have time to cook Friday night. Saturday night, I’ll fire up the grill for the steaks. I’ll store the meals in individual Tupperware containers as I’m cleaning up Thursday night.
This step is a process and can have multiple stages. This step is the 1% better approach. A vegetable example looks like this, going from canned to frozen, then from frozen to fresh.
Another example might be choosing a product with an extensive list of ingredients you can’t pronounce to one with fewer ingredients that you can pronounce and find in the store you’re shopping at. Chances are you’re not going to find Red dye #9 on Kroger’s shelves.
Finally, eat slowly and mindfully. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, but we too often distract ourselves while we eat. Put the phone down, turn the TV off, and get rid of any other distractions. Take your time as you eat and pay attention to the flavors and textures.
Eating at a slower pace will allow you time to pay attention to your hunger cues and the sensation of being full. This helps with reducing the chances of overeating. If you are up for a real challenge, try putting your unties down after each bite!
I can guarantee, if you follow these four steps, you are on your way to improving your diet without being on a diet.