Are you fluent in the almost-dead-in -America language of eating healthy?

Posted on June 13, 2010

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Decisions, decisions…what pants to wear, how to do your hair, which frappaccino to get at Starbucks (wait a minute, scratch the frapp if you want to have any hope of staying trim – check out our article on the Barone Performance blog for more on that!) How many food-related decisions to do you think you make every day? I’ll wait while you make a guess, put in in an email & send it to 7 friends in 7 minutes and you’ll get a wish come true or something (does anyone remember getting those emails when the internet first started for in-home users? I do….man that was lame.) But I digress –

So how many food-related decisions do you think you make daily? Get ready to say, ‘Holy cow! That’s why it’s so tough to get & maintain healthy nutrition habits!’

The average person makes 226.7 decisions relating to food every day.

In a study done by Wansink & Sobal (2007), they asked participants to carefully track how often they made a decision about food, and after tuning into the decisions that are largely automatic, the number was staggering! (I’m assuming the 0.7 would be the Diet Coke decision that came with the decision to go with a #1 at McD’s).

Add those decisions into an environment where life stress may be at an all-time high, along with the stress of “I know I’m not supposed to get the muffin, but I want the muffin” & you’ve got a veritable minefield in front of you – that you have to walk through 226.7 times per day. Add to that the fact that skill in truly smart-nutrition-decision-making will be low early on, & it’s a no wonder many people throw their hands up & say they’re happy with the unhealthy body they have got.

Here’s the deal – to change yourself so that you can dance through that minefield of decisions effortlessly, it’s going to take a lot of work early on for what seems like not very much return, but if you give it time, you will turn the tide in your favor, and will see huge return on your investment in your education.

This does not mean trying a diet. It does not mean cutting out a food group. It really doesn’t even mean counting calories for the rest of your life! It does mean the following things:

-Learning how to eat as a way of life not as a way of expressing whatever emotion you’re feeling today

Learning about real food vs. food products & why you should avoid the latter like the plague

-Learning how much food is ‘enough’ and how to be ok with walking away from food

-Learning to let your taste buds taste food as Earth created it; bursting with real, natural flavor

You could summarize all of these key points under “mindful eating.”

Think about this. Most people are totally inconsistent when it comes to HOW they make their nutrition decisions. Sometimes, nutritious food is not even a thought as you pull through the drive-through amidst a day “too busy” to eat real food. Other times, you think more thoughts about food than almost anything else in your day – emotional cravings, attempts to eat correctly but not knowing what to look at to know if the food in hand is the correct choice – those are thoughts that can become all-consuming & lead us to overindulge.

 Someone who does not have a handle on eating well/nutritiously needs to look first at how mindful they are of all things relating to food. Do you know how food actually tastes? Do you know how hungry you really are? Do you really know what to eat so that you don’t eat because you’re way past hunry & now “starving”? This questions do not get set into stone right away, who you are as it relates to food is going to evolve & grow over time so that certain triggers no longer set you off, you begin to simply ‘know’ which foods deserve an A+ or an F-, and about how much you should eat and when.

I didn’t learn conversational Spanish overnight. (that I’ve now forgotten due to lack of practice! see? you’ve got to practice it! how the heck are you supposed to be feeding yourself optimally if you don’t practice the technique/language/mindset over and over again?!) It took years of practice and comprehension to be able to finally read a ful-length book in Spanish and interact with people in Barcelona comfortably. Developing your “chops” for nutrition confidence are exactly the same.

And one last mark in the win colum for mindful eating…a study was done comparing groups who lost weight through a mindful-eating education program vs. a traditional program utilizing a nutritionist, doctor, and therapist. Both groups lost the same amount of weight, but the group that used the mindful-eating program lowered their levels of C-reactive protein – a key marker for inflammation in the body. And remember, all the Big Diseases are linked to having a higher rate of inflammation in the body – so you want to stay healthy? first big thing you should look at is lowering inflammation levels (not worried about a Big Disease? lowering your inflammation is critical if you want to have any chance of losing body fat too).

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