NEW YEAR, NEW FOOD CHOICE
I love new year’s resolutions. I love the idea that you can always start over.
Often with new years come new goals and new diets. People often choose nutrition and fitness goals to feel better. In this piece, I am going to talk about new nutrition choices and the unintended consequence of food rut or ruin.
SOCIAL EATING PET PEEVE
ARE YOU GOING TO EAT THAT?
First of all, I want to say that my ULTIMATE pet peeve is unwanted food advice or worse people saying judgmental shit about what I am eating.
Let’s set this straight before we start– I am a FOOD LOVING, yo yo dieting, athlete. I have been for my entire life. I have friends I willingly chat with about nutrition and I even pay some people to talk nutrition with me.
Other than that, I don’t want to hear it.
What I eat, how I eat, and everything to do with MY EATING is my choice and frankly, I have enough negative self talk that I’m batting off so I don’t need yours too.
I start with this because a LOT of people have told me they struggle most with this part– the social part. Everyone wants to tell you how to eat for some reason. Everyone has something to say.
If you are the one doing the eating, literally tell people to ‘shut up.’ If that word choice is too harsh for you, you can say, “I appreciate you caring about me, but I won’t discuss my eating choices with you.”
If you are the one that thinks they’re helping with the food advice or comment, you’re not. Period. Don’t give food advice to people who don’t ask for it. Just don’t. You aren’t helping. You ARE ruining the meal that [we] are sharing and making [us] not want to eat with you again.
FOOD SAFE PEOPLE
As a yo yo dieter, a food lover or struggler if you will, I am telling you I have food safe people and not safe food people. I don’t share this list, but it is there in the brain files. There are people I will discuss food with and people I cut off that subject to. You might be the coolest person in the world to me and I still might put you on the no talk food list. I just feel comfortable with people who ‘get it’ over people who don’t. It is that simple.
If you are fortunate enough to not have any triggers when it comes to food, feel fortunate and move on– comment free please.
FOOD RUT/ RUIN
Now for the topic at hand– food rut or ruin. This is the term I use for the foods I have ruined by over indulging on or really over relying on. The word ‘rely’ feels more genuine than the word ‘indulge’ here because of the foods we are talking about. Typically I don’t get food rut when it comes to Cheese Its or similar nectars of the junk food gods. Something in my brain and taste buds just doesn’t get tired of that fake, chemical cheese taste.
No, no, we never get sick of eating all the junk food that’s bad for us, just like we crush on people who are bad for us instead of the goods. I digress, but you get what I’m saying.
Foot rut is for the hard boiled egg, dry salad, raw carrot type habits we create when trying to start over with our nutrition.
Foot rut comes when you eat something too often and inherently ruin the food for yourself. You no longer enjoy the food and so it no longer satisfies you. Worse than that, you might actually become repulsed by that food.
I have ruined myself on so many foods trying different diets in my lifetime. Some foods taste actually like an age or time period for me. Bun-less burgers taste like being 13 to me just like broccoli with hummus tastes like 24 and hard boiled eggs 25.
These foods started as part of an awesome new habit or new eating routine. It started as something positive. I would turn to these foods because they hit a certain niche. The eggs were the quick protein I needed and unmatched in how simple they were to make for a whole week. Broccoli is gross alone so hummus made it edible. The same as bun-less burgers gave me the protein number I needed without the carbs I wasn’t allowing myself when I thought carbs were the devil.
What started as some great habits led to some foods I almost never ate again.
THE BEAUTY AND BEAST OF ROUTINE
A lot of people will tell you that you shouldn’t be trying a ‘diet’ but rather a new ‘lifestyle.’ Now I understand the thinking here– you don’t want to live on a ‘diet’ for your entire life. You want to develop a new lifestyle of eating that works for you.
The thing is you can’t develop something new without trying new things, now can you?
I constantly try new diets and will take parts of that diet into my lifestyle so when I speak of new ‘diets’ keep that in mind. Diets are part of the short term adjustments that lead into that long term lifestyle for me.
I will never-ever-ever be the kind of person who lives without thinking about their nutrition. I just can’t. My body wishes to change weight like the waves in the ocean. So if I let it go unchecked for too long, a tsunami is coming and you know what that means– buying new clothes and I HATE that. Shopping needs to be avoided at all costs– oh oh and gaining and losing a lot of weight is bad for your body, too.
Anyway with new diets, I have found that ROUTINE will create habits, which lead to success. When I start a new diet, I start by having a written planning of my meals for the week under the rules of the new diet. This planning helps me adjust before I am acclimated to what I am going to be eating. I will write myself a plan of what I am eating for the week and then meal prep those types of meals.
Meal prepping– cooking, preparing, and portioning out meals for an intended purpose.
Meal prepping is a great tool for routine building no matter what diet you are working on. When you make it easy to eat in the new way you are looking for, you make it easier to develop the routine.
Another tool I often use to start goals or keep them going is a simple sticker chart. With my eating, it feels so good to put that sticker on the chart at the end of the day reminding me that I stuck with it for the day. I swear that a month of stickers for eating well feels just as good as it did when you got it for peeing on the potty back in the day. Don’t knock it until you try it [again.]
When I attempted to eat Paleo [plus cheese]* I set up my breakfasts for the week. Those breakfasts were 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 pieces of link sausage, and an apple. Weird how I remembered that exactly? You would remember too if it is what you ate every morning for months on end.
Now, was this working?
To answer that question, I have to define for myself what ‘working’ means. I was losing weight eating that way. I was hitting goals, which were based on lifting at the time. Those were the goals at the time and so yes, it was working.
Was it sustainable?
Now, here is where the answer is ‘no.’ This was certainly not sustainable, so while it was working, it was not going to continue to. The reason it wasn’t sustainable was not the type of diet I was eating. I was certainly fulfilling all of the needs (nutrient wise) of my body at the time– but not the needs of my mind.
One more time, I am a LOVER OF FOOD. If I am not happy with what I am eating, I am not satisfied. Even ‘full,’ I never feel full unless I am happy with what I ate. This is where the real failure of routine and food rut started to kick in.
At first, I was so happy with that diet. I couldn’t believe how full I was, how easy it was to do, and more importantly how great I felt walking into my Crossfit gym. That all stopped when the food rut came. Slowly but surely, I started to feel unhappy with what I was eating.
The same meal every day stopped hitting the spot.
Much like marriage, I realized I needed to spice up the routine, or I would leave this type of eating all together…
Sadly, Paleo [plus cheese]* and I just couldn’t make it. There was too much food rut, too many days left hungry for anything but hard boiled eggs. I took with me what I learned though and learned how to avoid the rut in the future.
HOW TO AVOID THE RUT
Now, I have clearly fully embraced my love of food! With that, I avoid the food rut the best that I can. Routine and habit can be so positive for change, but the thing is they always seem to bring some kind of food rut. Here are three rules I have created to avoid the rut:
- No repeats or hesitations!!
- First off, do not repeat meals for the week days. That means you need 5 solid choices for each meal for the week. That sounds daunting (and it is!) but this will prevent that food rut. You want to be excited about your food and the best way to do that is to force variety from the get go. Make yourself a menu, get excited about it!
- This also means freeze your food if you need to! I am huge on freezing meals– I have a whole freezer devoted to only meal prepped containers. Granted, I am not texture picky, you can certainly play around with what freezes well and what doesn’t. Start with chilis and soups– they freeze and reheat easily without much change.
- If you hesitate to eat something, don’t. Put the food away. The first time you realize you don’t want to eat something, try to put it away for the next day. This is the beginning of that food rut so don’t ignore it. Actively think about why you are hesitating and reflect on what you could do to change that.
- Take ‘hesitation’ food breaks
- When you start that hesitation I mentioned in the first rule, take a break from that food or prepping your food that way. Don’t just ignore the feeling because of the ease of that meal. Yes, it might be the easiest meal to make, but it will not ‘fill’ you if you don’t want it! And it is better to take the break now instead of ruining yourself from that food FOR-EV-VER.
- Try something new weekly
- For the pickier eaters, this may sound even more daunting than planning 5 different meals for the week but again, this helps! Every single week, plan just one thing to try that you haven’t before. Now, if you put it in front of me at any point in my life, I ate it so this might not be a food type for some people like me. This is what it is for you. You just have to try something new that fits into the diet you are trying. Maybe it is a new food for you or maybe it is just a new way of preparing that broccoli that makes you want to put it in your mouth and not sneak it to the dog.
MAKE YOUR OWN [FOOD] RULES
Now, lastly, I will end this by saying with nutrition, you always need to make your own rules. Diets and different lifestyles, created by others, are a great place to start. Take what you can from other people’s writings. Remember though, in the end, the way you eat and the rules around nutrition you will follow are always up to you.
Don’t ever let yourself get stuck in a box that isn’t your own.
You have one body and you are the only one that lives in it. I promise you I can tell you more about the strange workings of my body than any textbook, and I bet you the same for yourself.
You are the boss of your body and you make the rules for what goes into it.
*Cheese is my favorite food and a non-negotiable. Given a Michie Smash created food pyramid, it would be the biggest section. The closest I ever followed paleo was still paleo plus cheese because I love myself.