Fix Your Bad Nutrition Habits
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have bad nutrition habits.
You may eat something you love, and then feel guilty about it 2 hours later.
That is a bad habit.
It's like a smoker who is trying to quit cigarettes. They want nothing more than to have a cigarette, and might mentally "need" it". But after they give in to temptation they feel awful, guilty and less than themselves.
Because they have conditioned themselves to believe they need that cigarette, and are probably addicted to the nicotine.
Your bad nutrition habits are no different. Here's how to identify your bad habits, and then how to change them.
You have set your mind up to believe you need a certain food in order to relax, reward yourself or enjoy your night. In some instance you might be slightly addicted to the dopamine release that certain food chemicals let off.
It's a viscous cycle of desire, giving in and then guilt. It's also a useless cycle that can be broken. It might not be easy, but it can definitely be broken. Here's how.
1. Identify Your Dietary Weaknesses.
Your weakness can be a certain type of food that you crave. It can be the fact that you have a "sweet tooth" or that you need to eat fries with a burger. You might not think you can say "no" to either of those things, or whatever your dietary keystone is.
Your weakness could also be an attitude. You might be an emotional eater. After a bad day at the office, or the dog park you might need a bowl of ice cream in order to calm your mind and make you feel better.
You might also have a case of what I like to call "I don't give a f*ck"itis. This means that you are fine during the week, or when you're alone. As soon as it's the weekend or you're with your friends you don't care at all about your diet. You might eat nothing but organic kale and boiled chicken during the week, but as soon as you're out with your friends it's mountains of fried chicken covered in truffle mouse in a bowl of noodles.
All of these weaknesses can be accounted for, I'll show you how later. First you must identify your personal weakness. You can't fix an issue unless you first admit there is one.
2. Identify Points of Bad Education
Woo, man. I'm going to try and remain professional here but it might be tough.
You've been led astray by bad advice. We all have. We don't have a formal nutritional science background in our school system, so we tend to follow and believe whatever is the trendiest, sexiest advice. We also tend to hold on to whatever bullshit advice we're given for the rest of our lives and let it shape our mental attitude towards food.
For example how many people were told “if you eat carbs after 7:00 PM they convert directly to fat?”
I bet every single one of you has been told that by someone. It might have been from a crap grocery store magazine, it might have been some braindead celebrity or it might have been an under-qualified "fitness professional" trying to make money on social media. It might have even been from an aunt or family member.
How many people still hold that advice in the back of their head and allow it to feel guilty whenever they have a bowl of ice cream at 7:30PM?
Non-scientific folksy (bullshit) nutrition advice does that to all of us, because we have no formal education on the matter so we view it through an emotional lense.
Now is your opportunity to let all of that horrible, useless advice go and to start fresh with a basis of knowledge based in facts, studies and experience.
Just like your personal weakness you must identify nutrition hokum that you believe for only emotional reasons.
3. Create a Plan to Deal with Your Weakness
You have to treat your bad nutrition habits like an addiction. They are. I’m not saying they’re going to kill you right now, or even at all, but if you treat them with seriousness and discipline you are more likely to get the results you want.
And just like addiction, your bad habits are not a disesase. They are just choices you've made regularly enough that they've become a habit. We need to break your bad habits and instead create new ones. We are not changing who you are as a person, you're fine the way you are.
Your bad nutrition habits say nothing about who you are as a person. You are not lazy or weak because you like certain foods. The deck is stacked against us. We're evolutionary wired to eat everything in sight, and modern food science can create amazingly tempting and addicting foods that rewire your brain.
You KNOW your sweet tooth or bad habit is not a healthy thing, and it makes you feel guilty.
Why do you indulge it?
Because you don’t have a plan to deal with it. You are reacting to it, not being proactive in dealing with it.
You HAVE to create a plan to deal with whatever your bad habits are.
If you have a sweet tooth you can hide whatever sweets are in your house. The less visually tempted you are the less likely you will be to indulge. You can also keep cookies and other things like that in an opaque container, instead of the typical glass one. Out of sight out of mind actually works wonders.
If you wake up late every morning and have to skip breakfast so you’re famished by lunch. You can bring mid morning snack to work or cook your breakfast the night before. There are a plethora of overnight oats recipes online. On the converse you could also go to bed early so you wake up in time to eat something before rushing out the door.
If you're busy at work all the time and don’t have enough time to eat a normal lunch you can meal prep lunch or hire a meal prep company.
If you can't say no to family and friends when it comes to bad food you need to develop some will power. There’s no nice way to say this. Your decisions are your own, you can either develop the spine to say no or you can avoid the situations that make you eat like crap. You can’t blame people you love for “making you eat poorly” whether that be your best friend or your spouse.
All of these solutions and plans may be rudimentary and easy but at least they are a pro-active plan of action. They are attainable and easy to stick to. You can create your own plan for your own personal weakness but you have to have the discipline to follow through.
You can only create new habits by continually acting in the same way. You can't half ass this and expect your mental landscape to change. You need to be all in.
4. Admit You Have Been Led Astray and Let Bad Information Go Forever
This one stings. None of us want to admit that we’re wrong.
All the time.
Let any bogus information out of your head and focus on building your new habits. Carbs after 7 won’t make you fat, too much protein won’t ruin your kidney.
There is a lot of information available, but try to get yours from reliable sources like nutritionists or researchers who are not sponsored by certain diets or supplement companies.
Also realize that your personal nutrition is going to be completely unique.
We all react differently to different foods. The only way to figure out exactly how you react to different foodstuffs is to experiment with food choice and record how it makes you feel. A study from 2015 proved that there is no "ONE RIGHT" way to eat. Each and every single one of us reacts differently to food.
800 people's diets, blood sugar and glucose response was monitored for a week. The study showed that the response to food was highly individualized.
What this shows us is that some diets work perfectly for some people, while they do nothing for others. It shows us that we have to create a personalized nutrition plan. It also shows up that sometimes we have to ignore advice from other people.
Please, for the love of God, stop believing in pyramid schemes and things that 21 year old trainers tell you on the internet. It's all bullshit.
5. Allow Yourself to Relax and Don't Freak Out When You Take a Misstep
You will fail. You will eat something you’re not supposed to. Guess what? It’s really not that big of a deal as long as it doesn’t happen every day.
Aim for 80% compliance.
At the beginning any improvement is a big win.
Let’s say you ate McDonald’s every day for all 3 meals before you decided to fix your nutrition habits. That means you were eating 21 meals per week at McDonald’s
The next week you ate 2 meals per day at McDonalds. That’s 14 meals. That’s a 33% improvement by making a better choice only once per day.
Even though the majority of your diet is from McDonald’s it’s still a full ⅓ better than it was the week before.
If you continue this pattern and only eat 1 meal per day at McDonald’s the next week you have made a 66% improvement in just 2 weeks.
Don’t get bogged down in the details and focus on your overall pattern of decisions, habits take time to develop.
Your habits can be changed. You just need the determination to change them.
Temptation will not go away just because you want it to. You have to develop a plan and be strong enough to stick with that plan. The world will go on as usual, no matter what your decisions are. You need to be active when dealing with the world and the problems it will throw your way.
You cannot control the world. You can only control yourself and how you react to the world.
You can change all your bad habits, you just need to focus and have confidence in yourself. Bad food choices do not make you a weak, incapable person. You are a capable, strong individual.
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