Good morning and hello to everyone who actually liked math in high school; today I’m going to hit you with a few numbers. I know, that seems no fun, but stick with me. If you’re working out consistently let’s say between 2 and 6 hours a week, first of all, I’m proud of you, and you should be too; that’s no small feat. Going to the gym can be a pain, literally. However, you’ve committed to those 4 hours a week (because averages) and that’s great. But, there are indeed 24 hours in a day and 7 of those days in a week. We do the multiplication (ugh, I know) and that gives us 168 hours in a week. Subtract 4 and that gives us 164 hours where you’re not in the gym. This means that the majority of your success is going to be dependent on the time when you’re NOT working out. While there are a lot of things you can do with this time to help yourself reach your goals (and also work and have a life, you know, normal people stuff), one of the biggest variables that will have a huge impact on your success and that’s also entirely in your control is your nutrition. You are what you eat; I want to help you eat better.
Now, it’s really easy for me to sit here and write “Nutrition is a big deal, figure it out and you’ll be beach ready”, and I’d be right, but it’s not nearly that simple or easy. Food is emotional, food is community, food is comfort, food is family. Our culture developed in part through the sharing of meals and building community through food. So, it’s not as simple as “A+B=C”, and today all I want to do is give you a few simple tips to make it more approachable and manageable. We’re not going to go down the rabbit hole of macros, or paleo, or the ins and outs of your neighbor Jenny’s meal plan; instead, we’re just going to look at 6 simple tips that you can implement this week to make eating well as pain free as possible.
First off, a pre-tip; cook your own food. I don’t know who needs to hear that and I know it takes time, but this way you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. That said, what you cook starts with what you decide to buy at the grocery store. So, let’s start with three grocery tips to make your next grocery trip a good one.
Tip #1: Make a list and stick to it
The first key to a successful trip to the grocery store starts before you even leave the house; making your shopping list. Having a list with all the food you need for the week ensures a couple of things; first, you get everything you need and don’t forget anything important, and second, you don’t get carried away with treats and also stick to your budget. BONUS TIP: Don’t go shopping while you’re hungry, you’ll be less inclined to buy things you don’t need just because you’re hungry.
Tip #2: Go for nutrient dense foods
Tip two is to try and stick to as many nutrient dense foods as you can. Nutrient dense foods are usually those that are most minimally processed and have the highest vitamin and mineral profiles. Now, be careful of the word density when it comes to food. Don’t confuse nutrient dense with energy (calorie) foods; they’re not the same. For example, a candy bar is very calorically dense, but it doesn’t offer us much nutritionally. When looking for these nutrient dense, minimally processed foods, the outer walls of the store are going to be your friend. This is where you’re going to find the most minimally processed foods from all your major food groups, fruit and vegetables, dairy, proteins, those sorts of things. The more stuff that’s added to something and processing it goes through, the higher likelihood that it’s more calorically and less nutrient dense so try and make the majority of your selections from those outer walls.
Tip #3: Beware marketing buzzwords
That brings us to our last grocery store tip, when you are reading labels and making choices, don’t get caught up in sneaking marketing terms like low-fat, low-sugar, organic, or even healthy. Odds are that while fat, or some other nutrient may have been taken out, something else, like sodium or sugar alcohols may have been added in their place; these things aren’t any better and you’d be better off going with something less processed and being mindful of the nutrients your body needs.