In talking with a friend today about nutrition and how my eating habits have evolved over the last 7-8 years, I realized how simple eating should be, yet how complicated we make it.
I firmly believe that how you eat as a kid has a lot to do with how you end up eating as an adult, although I have seen plenty of people who make the shift to eating wholesome food as adults once they become fed up with nagging health, weight or poor self image. We all have our breaking points, it’s just a matter of when. I have to say that I cannot applaud these people who have made the positive shift from eating chips and soda to veggies and lean meat.
It always amazes me what the smallest of changes can do for a person’s body transformation.
I generally eat the same rotation of foods weekly. I never count calories and I generally eat until I feel satisfied.
Every single day, breakfast makes or breaks you…
My breakfast rarely ever changes from the usual 3 egg omelette with veggies, Ezekiel Bread toast with peanut butter and banana slices (dusted with cinnamon). I wash it down with 2-3 glasses of ice cold water and a few cups of coffee.
This breakfast is a meal that I look forward to every single day. I typically eat at 5:30am, taking my time to consume the meal while I write or read articles. This breakfast fuels me until about 11am/12pm, when I feel the need to refuel with some lunch. Lunch is usually a salad with meat (salad+meat makes it a MEAL) or a homemade protein bar.
I have written about my homemade protein bar recipe, which I originally got from Precision Nutrition’s awesome cookbook Gourmet Nutrition. I can’t say enough about the protein bars or any of the other meals that can be found in that book. The pesto pizzas are one of my favorite meals of all time. Incredible replacement for eating the highly processed stuff from a local pizza place.
Eating is an acquired taste (no pun intended)…
As I started to learn more about food and the power that food has on general health, performance and body composition, I began to realize that most of the recommendations were exactly the same, just reorganized.
I started to use simple guidelines to help direct my grocery shopping and food choices…
I still use these tips personally to remind myself and also to help others dial in their eating habits.
I get asked all of the time what foods I eat. I usually throw out the, “If it wasn’t grown from the earth or have a mother, I don’t eat it” line, or lately just to keep it short and sweet, I will say “plants and meat”. Why say any more than that? It’s not rocket science, so why complicate for a person that is already being bullied by a food industry that pumps out garbage advertising.
The response is sometimes, “But Kyle, you eat red meat?!”
My response, “Hell yes. Plenty of it”.
Using these reminders can take the anxiety and confusion out of grocery shopping (where you decide whether to make a monetary commitment to the food) and actual preparation and consumption of meals (which is determined what you have purchased).
I began to take notice that I would eat whatever was stocked in the house, as most of your probably do the same. I know for a fact that many of you also do this. Whatever is convenient and quick is going to be consumed. Right?
Learn how to cook, it’s probably the answer to most of your problems…
In my pre-cooking days, I began to notice that whatever was being prepared by someone else dictated what I was going to be eating. If it was chocolate chip pancakes wrapped around sausage links, cake, donuts, Hamburger Helper, Ramen and on and on… it didn’t matter, it was going to be eaten. It sounds like a dumb observation, but if you aren’t preparing your own food, you are eating whatever is being prepared by the person that is. Sometimes that means eating junk.
Once I took the responsibility and the initiative to cook my own food for each meal, I started eating clean. I saw tremendous positive changes in my body appearance and performance. Clean eating to me is eating food that is free of any processed crap (ingredients). Clean eating involves eating food that rots it if isn’t consumed fast enough. Clean eating can be a complete pain in the ass. You’ll have to grocery shop 2-3 times at the grocery store because you are eating food that has a shelf life of just a couple of days, or, you’re eating so much of these quality foods that you literally run out. It’s all worth it.
I learned through experience that if I ate quality food, I could eat just about as much as I wanted. My plates for dinner and breakfast are still piled high with quality food that does nothing more than nourish my body and refuel it for the next training session.
Here is another bold statement for all of you to chew on: Eating clean makes you shit.
And while you may giggle and blush when I say that, it really isn’t a laughing matter. Eating quality food will make you eliminate regularly, which is so incredibly vital to your digestive system and overall health. So many of us walk around with toxic food pooled up in our bodies. Open the lid to a restaurants dumpster on a hot and humid Summer day, take a big whiff. Now imagine what your stomach looks like after Doritos, Bagels and French Fries.
Ever heard of leaky gut syndrome? A lot of people have it and don’t know it. Years of processed food and sugar finally taking it’s toll on their intestinal lining.
I know people who have been damn close to going under the knife because they thought they were suffering from a rotator cuff injury, when in fact it was an awful inflammatory effect from their diet. They changed some things in their diet prior to surgery and boom shakalaka, pain free.
This isn’t hocus-pocus. I have talked about how some health professionals are proactive and some are reactive. I would suggest that you seek out good information from those professionals who are proactive. Holistic healthcare used to be a taboo topic, but more and more folks are finding that holistic practitioners may in fact not be crazy voodoo witch doctors after all.
We can complain about our healthcare system all we want, but we need to take look in the mirror at the individual level first. We, as humans in these modern times, should be able to take care of ourselves. We have to pull up our pants, comb our hair, brush our teeth and start being big boys and big girls when it comes to our discipline to be conscious of food and consistent with movement.
Start small and simple, build on the momentum gained.
Un-educated, computer-less cavemen could figure it out…
For thousands of years, people have been eating plants that were grown from the earth and adding in a little animal meat, eggs and nuts for protein. Our ancestors weren’t entirely sure when the next meal was going to come. True hunters and gatherers.
Plants and pastured meat is medicine (and fuel) and it can be leveraged (very simply) to bring your body composition and overall health back to center, despite your movement habits. Although adding in a simple movement regimen is like pouring gasoline on the fire. Mix both and you’re set up for success.
The wrap up…
So at the end of the day, I do suppose that the best nutritional intervention is the one that you are willing to stick to. Whatever and wherever your starting point is, your ground zero, just do something to shift your nutritional intake in a positive manner.
These days, I view nutrition as I do the purposeful workout. It is an acquired taste that you’ll become better and better at as you continue move deeper into the realm of nutrient dense foods and seasonings while slowly eliminating the sugary/processed foods of the past.
A pure trade out. In the good, out with the bad.
You’ll become better at identifying good food from bad food every single time you make a conscious effort to shop smarter at the grocery store.
Cooking becomes less chaotic and more systematic over time. Just like working out regularly to build physical fitness, cooking and eating wholesome food becomes more and more fun every time you do it. It’s just a matter of sticking it out long enough to make the habits stick for the long-term.
I am in no way talking about eating for six-pack abs and veiny arms, I am talking about fitting into your college jeans and feeling comfortable (and proud) about taking your shirt off at the lake. For some of us, maybe it’s eating to save our lives (literally). For most of us, body restoration means regaining our self-confidence and our pride in a body that we worked hard to develop. Improving how you feel about yourself and how you perceive others feeling about your bodily image with do wonders for your happiness.
It’s a feel good story for everyone. When was the last time someone regretted taking back control of their body?
Cheers to common sense eating for life!
(This article in no way implies that I am supporting Paleo or any other diet trend).