Be your own nutrition expert

Repeatedly looking at others to try and find what works for us can be distracting and lead us down the wrong path.

How old are you?

That’s how many years of nutrition and exercise experience you have.

You have a history and you know your body. We all have this knowledge; we just have to remember it and tap in. Most importantly, we need to examine our history (and habits) with vigilance and honesty.

Often times we’ll simply copy what other people are doing for nutrition. And while we can gain knowledge and ideas from mimicking successful people, mimicking can also throw us off course.

Have you ever followed a plan that worked wonders for someone else, but not for you?

Repeatedly looking at others to try and find what works for us can be distracting and lead us down the wrong path.

Your history

Think about the knowledge you can draw on:

If you’ve never had any real “nutrition success”, well, I have good news. At least you know what doesn’t work for you.

What I’ve learned

What type of things am I talking about? Here is some of the stuff that I’ve noticed to be important for me based on my history. These are definitely not universal, although you might find similarities in your own experience.

I don’t do well with strict diet rules and regulations. They don’t lead me to any long-term success.

Whenever I approach exercise or eating with the “all-or-none” mentality – I’m in a bad place. Nothing positive comes out of it. It’s usually a justification for another unhealthy habit.

Whenever I’m exhibiting behaviors similar to other North Americans, I know I need to change it up.

Physical activity outside of the gym is critical for me to maintain a lean and fit body.

When I focus on how I feel after eating, rather than on how food will make me look – I do much better – with everything. Same goes for exercise.

I eat foods and do exercises that work for me. I don’t feel good after I eat a lot of soy – so I eat pinto beans instead. My low back feels miserable when I do heavy back squats – so I do front squats instead.

If I’m not hungry enough to eat a real food like broccoli or lentils – I know I’m really not that hungry.

I talk about trigger foods here: Good vs. Too Good. Beyond foods, I find situations even more important. Sit me down at a nice dinner with friends and family – I’ll do fine. Isolate me in a cold, dark room on a mid-December evening and I’m more prone to make a processed food run. Even worse, I might have to rely on “willpower.” I don’t do willpower.

To eat a certain way each day, I need a purpose beyond how I look. Being able to divert my focus with eating towards bettering the planet, animals and my health gives me powerful incentive. When I get too wrapped up with how food makes me look, I become preoccupied and selfish.

When I eat late at night, I usually don’t sleep well and have less energy the next morning.

I focus on nutritious food that tastes good and makes me feel good. When I eat enough nutritious stuff, my desire for non-nutritious stuff goes way down.

I don’t like eating more than 4 or 5 times per day. If I eat more than that, the entire day revolves around eating, and that doesn’t work for me.

Whenever my daily eating habits aren’t going well, whether it’s eating too much, eating too little, obsessing about food, or eating lots of non-nutritious food – the problem never has to do WITH food/eating. The problem has to do with my life. Something in my life is out of balance and is manifesting itself via food habits.

The key for me to maintain a lean body is observing hunger cues. This trumps specific foods or nutrient timing methods. If I eat beyond fullness, no matter the food, bad things happen. I feel like crap and look the same. When I acknowledge my body and tune in, I’m set.

Eating when I do other tasks doesn’t work. I can’t read and eat. I can’t watch TV and eat. I can’t drive and eat. When I do, I eat too much, I don’t listen to my body, and I disrespect the food. When it’s time to eat, I eat. That’s it. One of my favorite quotes:

“Eating in a car is like making love in a car: It is cramped, messy, and you’re unlikely to respect yourself in the morning.” — Victoria Moran

See what I’m getting at?

These are the type of things we can gain from recalling our eating patterns. We can find the things that work for us. We discover them from years of personal experience, not the textbook. And most importantly, they are likely completely different for each one of us.

So – what have you learned? What works for you? What doesn’t?

Use it.

Optimized smiley Be your own nutrition expert

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