Undeniably, one of the hardest things about staying healthy is nutrition. Whether it’s overindulging on our sweet tooth, depriving ourselves of foods we love, or never feeling satisfied from our meals, we’ve all dealt with a nutritional challenge that is likely from being out of touch with our own eating. I’m not a huge rulebook stickler, but I do know that having a framework can help guide our nutritional choices tremendously and be more mindful around food. You may find these “rules” aren’t like the usual diet book rules – no calorie counting, magic superfoods, or mysterious green drinks for meals 🙂 These nutrition rules have been developed by some of the best nutrition experts out there, and work for the majority of people (including my own clients). Here they are:
1. 3-4 Meals / Day – You may have heard of 5-6 snacks a day or maybe you’re eating 2 larger meals, but 3-4 is the magic number. No more, no less. Why 3-4? It’s been physiologically proven to allow your body to experience hunger, while also forming meals that are satiating enough to satisfy your hunger. Worried that this isn’t enough? The 5-6 small meals a day tends to add up to more food than necessary, isn’t always realistic to stay regular with, and never really allows your body to be fully in touch with its physiological hunger signals. If you follow rule #2, I guarantee you’ll be filled up. This is from Registered Dietitian, Georgie Fear, author of Lean Habits (I highly recommend the full book!).
2. Protein & Veggies at Every Meal – Including a protein and veggie (or two, or three) at each meal should be first priority! Whether it’s lining your plate with greens and adding a chicken breast or including a handful of carrots or snap peas and protein bar into your afternoon snack, using this rule of thumb will help fill you up and make your meal more balanced. I have noticed it helps me tremendously. By prioritizing my chosen protein and vegetable, I can organize the meal based around these top two components, and feel fuller from the source of protein and volume of vegetables!
3. “HEC In Check” – What does this mean? It’s simple: Hunger, Energy, Cravings. Keeping these in balance is key to weight loss/maintenance, and overall nutritional satisfaction. Sleep, stress, and overexercising are the biggest lifestyle factors that can spike up your hunger and cravings, while decreasing your energy. Hormonal levels also play a key role. When one lifestyle component is out of balance, you may notice that your own hunger, energy and cravings are affected. This framework was developed by Jade Teta, N.D. and owner of Metabolic Effect. Find out more about how to keep your HEC in Check.
Follow these rules every day for a week, and notice how you feel. Allow yourself to experience hunger in between meals and challenge yourself to include a protein and vegetable at every meal. These simple rules can be tailored to your lifestyle, and are certainly not a one-size fits all approach.
Do you have your own nutritional rule that you follow? One that works for you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know!