The internet is flooded with trivial and trendy diet tips that do little more than make for a good sound bite. Ideas like “don’t eat anything your grandparents wouldn’t eat” or “if it didn’t grow in the dirt or walk around don’t eat it.
As catchy as these ideas are they don’t help much for turning the tide on obesity and unhealthy eating habits. Over the years I’ve learned to be wary of advice that starts with the word “just”.
- Just don’t eat junk food.
- Just eat good food.
- Just stay away from processed food.
- Just eating lots of plants and drink lots of water.
Real practical nutrition and diet tips have to dig much deeper than what you find on a social media post. So to help turn the tide here are 5 real diet tips that can produce real results for life.
#1 Observe the principle of balance and speed
Many diet tips revolve around telling you what you should do and what you shouldn’t. While that sounds simple enough, it’s not how real life, and healthy eating work. It’s the type of advice lazy coaches and experts give out when they don’t want to take the time to figure out what’s really best for their client.
All results from diet come from the balance between your rate of consumption and the rate your body uses what you’ve consumed. In vs Out so to speak. It’s not about what you do or don’t do, but rather how fast you do various things.
Think about eating a pint of ice cream. Some will claim that it’s just bad to eat that ice cream and to never do it. Sure, I wouldn’t recommend eating that pint in one sitting and then do that again every day for a month.
However, if you eat a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream each night after dinner you probably wouldn’t notice any negative impact at all. In both cases, you’re still eating an entire pint of ice cream but the difference is the speed at which you consume it. In the first instance, you eat the whole thing in 20 minutes. In the second you eat it over a couple of weeks. The slower intake allows your body to use the fat, sugar and calories rather than overloading your system with more than it can handle.
#2 Prepare your own food and meals
Eating well comes down to just 3 things;
- What you eat
- How much you eat
- When you can eat it
Preparing your own food and meals gives you vastly more control over all three of those factors than if someone else were preparing your food for you.
You also don’t have to physically make all of your own food. I make a habit of preparing my bag lunch for each work day and I include things like granola bars and greek yogurt. I didn’t make those foods, but I am including them in my lunch that I’m preparing for the day.
That’s not to say you can’t eat out or enjoy your mom’s cookies once in a while. Prepare what you eat most of the time and you’ll be in much better control.
#3 Observe the 3 P’s
When you take care of each meal your diet will take care of itself. Rather than trying to count, weigh and measure every ounce of food I recommend following the 3 P’s which include:
At each meal try to include some sort of plant food usually in the form of fruits and vegetables. Alos include some sort of notable protein source. Doing both of these will greatly improve the nutritional quality of each meal.
Lastly, keep an eye on portion size. This includes the portion size of each item you eat as well as the size of the whole meal. How much plant-based food do you have? How much protein? how much food in total do you have? Is it enough to satisfy your hunger? Is it too much as you’ll feel overfed?
I can’t decide how much is enough or not enough, everyone is different and your needs will change over time. The most important thing is to pay attention to the portions you’re eating and how well they help you with the next diet tip.
#4 Aim to reduce stress
The purpose of a healthy diet doesn’t just help you lose weight or improve performance. It’s to reduce stress and help you recover from training and life.
This is a stark difference from ideas that “eating right” is supposed to be difficult and a struggle. In some cases, this can be the case. A bodybuilder or figure competitor who’s preparing for a show will need to eat in a way that can be hard and stressful. That’s what they need to do for their sport, but that’s not how real long-term healthy eating works. A truly healthy diet removes stress from your life rather than cause it.
Keep in mind that your diet can cause stress both through under consumption and over-consumption. If you eat too much sugar and carbs your body can be overloaded. However, you don’t eat enough you can feel deprived and unsatisfied. Both cause stress and both compromise the optimal health of your diet.
#5 Listen to your body
The key to following all 5 of these tips is to listen to your body and respect it enough to give it what it needs.
It’s easy to point a finger at someone who overeats junk food and claim they don’t respect their body, but the same goes for those who “eat right” and deprive themselves of what they really want.
There are also a plethora of ideas out there telling you that “you are your own worst enemy” and that it’s “You vs You.” These ideas make for great fitspiration posts on social media but they are very toxic ideas.
Your body is constantly giving your feedback based on how it feels and responds to how you feed it. This feedback is the most honest and truthful information you’ll ever receive regarding your diet and nutritional choices. Ignoring, and even fighting, the signals your body gives you is like ignoring every warning light and gage on the dashboard of your car. You can’t fight, much less ignore, an overheating engine or an empty fuel tank any more than you can fight your cravings and appetites indefinitely.
Honoring and respecting your body isn’t a sign of weakness if you eat a cookie or go out for pizza on a Friday night. It’s a sign of strength and self-control. As I mention in my book, self-control isn’t about being in control of your self. It’s about putting your self in control.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these 5 diet tips. You don’t have to use all 5 at once, just pick one or two for the next week and get used to them. Achieving a healthy diet is an ongoing process and it takes time (and some mistakes) to figure things out. Stay patient and keep taking one step forward to improve your healthy eating skills. The better you become at applying these 5 diet tips the less you’ll need those tips you find on social media.