How to Create Good Nutrition Habits That Stand The Test Of Time
Creating good nutrition habits takes more time than you might think. It also requires a lot of trial and error to find the best fit for you, your goals and what you can stick to.
What works for me, may or may not work for you.
That's why a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work and is important that you have an individualised approach to your nutrition.
You may need to test different methods and use your body like a science experiment to get the results that you want.
The outcome you want might come in the form of losing weight, improving your body composition (the way your body looks and is shaped), increasing your body's performance or maybe even all three!
What I find a lot of people struggle with when it comes to food choices and creating good eating habits, is that the mindset is short-term focused.
This might have something to do with the sheer amount of 4, 8, and 12-week challenges out there. You start the program and alter your nutrition habits, but only temporarily.
You get results following the short-term program and then you go back to eating the way you did before starting and BAM! Your results go with it.
It doesn't allow enough time to cement the habits necessary for sustainable results and this causes the results you do make to be a flash in the pan or "one-off".
I want to cover three topics which I feel are essential to creating good nutrition habits which will stand the test of time.
I selected this area first, as I feel that far too many people jump on the latest diet craze or temporary challenge before really spending any meaningful time thinking about if it's something they truly want to do and go through.
Making a decision to eat well and make smarter food choices when you're in the mood, motivated and feeling good, is easy -- anybody can do that!
But, will you commit to making and sticking to those choices every day, regardless of how you feel?
It just got really quiet, didn't it?
This is what I mean by commitment. Doing what needs to be done, regardless of the circumstances.
Now, I'm not saying (or even advocating) that you need to be 100% perfect. But you do need consistency and the way which you build that is staying committed to your original decision and choice which you made to yourself.
If you have a low-commitment level, can't (or won't) follow-through and do what's required -- eat what you need to and drink specific liquids -- then you will struggle when the going gets tough.
This is the problem so many poeple face and continue to struggle with, because of not fully committing to the goal.
On the flip side, if you have really thought about this decision and truly want to make changes to your body and are prepared to take the necessary actions to make it happen, in all circumstances, then you will be highly successful.
The second part to creating good nutrition habits comes down to having a framework of what changes you will be making.
This can be as strict or relaxed as you want -- but remember, once again, the goal here is consistency.
If the framework is too rigid and can't be followed because it's too restrictive, what good is it to you?
On the contrary, if your framework is too relaxed and leaves too many options and loopholes available, you may well find results non-existent.
Pick the approach which suits your personality.
Personally, I am very disciplined, so would benefit from a strict approach as I can follow directions and do as I'm told. You may or may not respond the same way.
Some examples of creating a suitable framework for your nutritional changes are below;
- Drink 250-300mL of water before every meal
- Consume a protein source in every meal (7 Strategies to Increase Your Protein Intake)
- No liquid calories Monday to Saturday
- 2 serves of fruit per day (Serving sizes made simple)
- Breads, rice and pasta only if completing exercise on that day (Earn your carbs)
- Practice mindful eating at each meal
- Cheat meal or takeaway once per week (Ideally, pick the same day each week -- habit building)
- Substitute normal chocolate for dark chocolate (70% or higher)
- No food or liquids after 8PM
The reason I decided to put this is list-form is so that you can simply look at the options and decide "Is this right for me?" Yes or No.
If you think this is an area which needs improving, then I would definitely use it as part of your framework.
You may decide to only change one thing initially -- which is fine! The goal is to make the habit stick.
Another option is to add an extra one of these habits every fortnight.
That will give you enough time to practice your current habit and become part of your "New Normal".
From there you can add to that list, amplifying your results and building one good habit on top of another.
3. 80/20 Rule
You may or may not have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as The Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of results come from 20% of actions.
In a nutshell, it compares the effects of 'The Trivial Many' to the 'Vital Few' tasks.
I'm sure you've experienced this before.
You've tried to make a tonne of changes to your diet all at once, but none of them seem to make any noticeable or meaningful changes to your body.
If that sounds familiar, it's likely that you spent too much time focusing on the trivial many (areas that don't have a big impact) and neglected to put emphasis on the vital few (areas which have huge impact).
To lose weight, you must create a negative energy balance or 'calorie deficit' -- this is non-negotiable and a part of good nutrition.
The vital few tasks which you should be focusing on are a part of the framework list which you just read about.
You might be thinking, "Jesse, there must be something more or something else. This is too simple!"
But, simple and easy are not the same thing.
Having a simple, easy-to-follow framework is a good thing.
It means you won't get lost or forget what needs to be done.
This does't necessarily mean that the process will be an easy one. Far from it!
I don't want to sugar-coat this and tell you it'll be simple and you can do it in a few weeks. Because that's highly unlikely to be the case.
You'll have to work at it every day, week and month until it becomes normal for you. This is how you create a new lifestyle, change your body and prevent your results from being short-lived.
The last part of this principle you need to remember is that you don't have to be perfect, you just have to get better over time.
Which means you must follow-through, complete and stick to your framework so that you have a high success rate and therefore see plenty of results.
Generally, I set nutrition changes which can be completed 8 to 9 out of 10 times. Anything less than that outcome isn't going to see you build consistency, momentum and progress over time, as you aren't completing the task frequently enough.
There's no point in having what you think or have been told is the 'Best Plan' if it's too tough to follow.
See where I'm going with this?
Consistency is the key here.
If you consistently fall below the 8/10 completion rate for your current habit, then one of two things needs to happen;
- Reduce the difficulty, or adjust the habit so it is more attainable.
- Lift your own effort, get back to committing to your goal and apply yourself more.
Personally, I would like you to try approach number two first, so that you results are better, rather than simply decreasing your efforts.
"Anything worth having is worth fighting for." - Susan Elizabeth Phillips
That is your framework to create good nutrition habits that stand the test of time.
A quick re-cap so it stays in your mind.
Commit to your goal, under any and all circumstances.
Create and follow your framework.
80/20 Rule. Focus on the Vital Few over the Trivial Many.
If you are ready to commit and finally get your nutrition right once and for all, then I think you'd be a good fit for my nutrition coaching program.
Coaching gives you a fresh set of objective eyes.
Someone who can look at your situation, see the whole picture and help you to 'course-correct' when things get tough or you hit a plateau and stop seeing positive results.
Simply complete the form below to take the first step.