Have you ever found yourself eating a meal, only afterwards to feel unexpectedly bloated and to have a huge slump in energy?
Have you struggled to lose weight, even though you’re trying really hard to eat more healthily?
Have you tried a bunch of different diets, but not found the right results with any of them?
The title of this article wasn’t clickbait. I really do have ‘one thing’ you can try that has the potential to completely change all of this. But first, a story and some context.
I’m heading to a cafe for an English breakfast. Now, I love an English breakfast, but this isn’t a situation to take lightly. Immediately my brain clicks into gear.
This breakfast can go a few different ways. On one end of the spectrum, this will become a 1,000 calorie, high carbohydrate, high sugar, highly processed breakfast. On the other end of the spectrum it could be a 500 calorie, low carb, low sugar breakfast. And of course, there are a few options in the middle.
This needs to be a conscious choice. It needs to take into account what else I plan to eat, and how active I am that day. Because the moment I’ve finished that breakfast, I can’t take it back. It sets me off on a certain path.
If I choose to eat the breakfast that is typically laid out on the menu (the 1,000 calorie one), I better be skipping lunch, not snacking and thinking carefully about how my evening meal will close the day right. And I better be goddamn active to offset the fact that I will likely need to eat more to get enough protein. If I eat the more bespoke breakfast (the 500 calorie one), I will have much more flexibility for the rest of the day.
As you can see, I’m incredibly conscious and intentional about every single piece of food I put in my mouth. I’m aware of the calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat and sugar content of it. And I understand how the decision to eat that piece of food fits in with the rest of my day.
I have to be. I’m determined to be strong, lean and healthy. My goal is to eat approx. 2,000 calories each day. I want the macronutrient breakdown to be approx. 40% protein, 40% fat and 20% carbohydrates. And I want to keep my sugar intake around 30 grams. So, I can’t just fuck around and eat unconsciously. I have to have an extreme level of self awareness of what is happening if I’m to build towards those numbers each day.
Sometimes I WILL decide to eat that 1,000 calorie breakfast. Life is about a balance, and I know how to let loose from time to time. In fact, I have more flexibility in my life today, than I did when I was less disciplined. Discipline really does equal freedom. But, if I do eat the 1,000 calorie breakfast, the rest of my day will need to be shaped to reflect that very conscious decision. Most of the time, I won’t though – because I prefer more flexibility throughout the day.
Ok, let’s back up a bit. This is feeling a bit obsessive huh?
I get it. I get that I’m super over the top with this stuff. I have calorie, protein, carbohydrate, fat and sugar goals for the day. I track every single piece of food I eat. My self awareness and level of consciousness for how I eat is kinda off the charts. It probably even has some hints of an unhealthy relationship with food. I’m absolutely not suggesting you have to, or need to be like me with this stuff.
BUT, I think it’s a huge mistake to eat on auto-pilot each day. It’s a huge mistake to have virtually zero understanding of how much you’re eating and the makeup of the foods you’re eating. Because this leads to over-eating. It leads to eating too many carbohydrates, too little protein and too many saturated fats. It leads to consuming too many processed foods and too much sugar – EVERY DAY. And here’s the kicker. You don’t even KNOW you’re doing it. In fact, sometimes you think you’re doing the opposite. I honestly believe that 99% of people fall into this category.
Why is all of this even important? Because living your life in this way often leads to being overweight and metabolically unhealthy. It leads to unnecessary swings in mood and energy levels. It’s a one way track to feeling like crap and health problems down the road.
OK, let’s now get to that ‘one thing’.
If I could suggest one thing someone could do to start the journey of becoming a more conscious eater? Use Myfitnesspal to track everything they eat for seven days. There’s no need to do anything differently or adjust your behaviour – just record everything. Myfitnesspal makes this pretty easy. You can scan items and it also has a huge database of common foods – included branded foods. It’s also free.
I will almost guarantee that you will find out that you’re eating too much (too many calories). I will almost guarantee you’re eating too many carbohydrates. I will almost guarantee you are eating too many saturated fats and processed foods. And I will almost guarantee you are eating too much sugar. Hey, perhaps you will even find out you’re under-eating? That’s my point. What you thought you knew, will probably become completely unravelled.
It will be an education and a half. All of a sudden you will realise how wrong you were about certain foods. You know that salad you ate with dressing that you thought was a light option? Wrong. The pasta dish you thought was pretty healthy? Wrong. That glass of orange juice you were led to believe was healthy? Super wrong.
It will be the start of a journey that leads you to becoming a more conscious and healthier eater. One that helps you make more informed and better choices about food. And one that will completely change your health and life for the better (see, it wasn’t clickbait!).
How far you go down that journey? Well, that’s up to you. But, it’s a journey that’s absolutely worth starting.
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