There are a few key principles- or nutrition pillars, if you will- that can help you provide your body the necessary nutrients, energy, and satisfaction from food that you need and deserve! To set yourself up to do well throughout the day, keep these 5 pillars in mind.
1. Eat what you love!
Aim to include both nourishing and pleasurable food throughout the week. If you love chocolate, chips, take out, ice cream, whatever it may be, plan for a few meals or snacks per week that bring comfort, nostalgia and joy from food.
2. Set yourself up to succeed
Rather than feeling guilty or being hard on yourself, almost always unnecessarily, because you didn’t achieve a goal, set SMART goals! These are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based goals.
We often do not set realistic and feasible goals for ourselves, yet we are still disheartened when they weren’t reached. Let’s try not to set ourselves up to fail, start from the beginning with setting yourself up to succeed with more attainable goals!
It also helps to focus on 1 or 2 things for a few weeks at a time and slowly building on that over time.
3. Provide your body with energy consistently throughout the day
- Aim to eat breakfast within 1-2 hours of waking up and then
- Try to eat a subsequent meal or a snack every 2.5-4 hours after and throughout the rest of the day. Essentially, aim to prevent going more than approx. 4-5 hours without eating as this can slow your metabolism (aka energy) through the day, promote muscle loss, and decreased energy!
We need as much mental and physical energy as we can get to sustain all our activities throughout our busy days!
4. Balance your meals & snacks
At each of your meals and snacks throughout the day, try to include a source of lean protein (including plant based options) + a fiber-rich carbohydrate source + heart-healthy plant-based fat (and veggies with lunch and dinner at least) to provide the balance of nutrients from protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep your appetite and energy sustained all day long! This is where we can struggle sometimes, and that’s ok, it’s best to create the habit and a few misses aren’t going to derail your nutrition. Aiming for a (flexible) plan for yourself each day or week can help us to achieve our goals here.
5. Learn to be adaptable
We are continuing to learn and evolve when it comes to our personal nutrition plans. It’s important to learn to be flexible with our plans, be forgiving ourselves, and consistently provide the reassure to ourselves that we don’t need to be perfect.
It is helpful to monitor our goals, plans, and our execution. Evaluate their feasibility, effectiveness, efficiency and modify said goals & plans accordingly and repeating from steps 1-4 when needed!