If you’ve yet to read part I of this series, you can do so here.
Let’s keep the party going.
Today’s content is a little bit spicier, hope you enjoy it.
The concept of “serving size” kind of doesn’t exist but it kind of does
I wanted to include this principle because so many clients are curious about figuring out the right “serving size” for their meals and snacks.
On some level it is obvious that the quantity of food one consumes is a relevant concept.
If I want to put on 5 pounds of muscle, and I need around ~3,000 calories a day to do so – I’d better understand what that amount of calories looks like in order to be successful with that endeavour.
But where the concept of serving size can fail is if it is applied too rigidly.
Hunger can vary on a day to day basis, depending on a wide variety of factors including stress, sleep, physical activity – among other things.
It also varies significantly based on what, when and how you eat.
I always recommend people to zoom out a little bit from their daily intake patterns and think about their nutrition on a slightly longer, let’s say weekly timescale.
Of course how one eats in a week is determined by the average of how they do over seven days, but this approach certainly offers some protection against a potentially harmful overly narrow view of one’s dietary habits.
Motivation is great for achieving nutrition goals, self-reflection is even better
The concept of motivation as it relates to achieving nutrition goals is an interesting one.
It is on some level obvious that one requires a baseline level of desire to change their eating habits in the first place, because without that desire there is no catalyst for improvement or to seek help in accomplish that improvement.
This desire, of course, will come from different places in different people.
Some want to perform better in sports, others may have received a recent health scare – there’s no right or wrong here.
What I believe to be true, however, is that motivation alone is not likely to be enough for most people to be successful long-term.
My view is that motivation is best paired with self-reflection, which essentially means taking the time to understand where you are and where you’ve been on your nutrition journey, represents a much better formula for success.
This is precisely why, when appropriate, I encourage self-reflection and discussion over the results of such reflection with my clients so that we may be sure to implement strategies that represent the best fit for who they are.
Food doesn’t fix everything, but it will probably help with quite a bit
If I didn’t believe this was true, I wouldn’t have devoted my life to this field.
Life is complicated and there is simply no denying the fact that eating well cannot help you resolve or overcome all of life’s challenges.
If you at this moment do not feel as good as you would like to feel mentally or physically AND you are not 100% confident you are doing the best you can with what you’ve got – then there is ZERO question in my mind that improving your nutrition will improve your daily life.
Food is connected with virtually every functionality in the human body:
1. Food can improve your mental health and stress levels
2. Food can help you poop better, easily and more frequently
3. Food can reduce your feelings of bloating and gas
4. Food can help you build muscle
5. Food can improve how your skin looks, feels and ages.
6. Food can affect everything from the composition of your blood to the composition of your liver
If you guys have been following my work in the least, and seen my numerous published pieces of writing, books etc – you will know all of the above are valid statements.
Myself personally, my own personal nutrition journey over the last two decades has seen me benefit in all areas I’ve listed above – and more.
The same foods improve the vast majority of health conditions
There is a great deal of individualization involved in helping someone with their nutrition goals.
This is especially true, as I’ve mentioned earlier, of individuals with complex gut health conditions or who may require highly curated diets for other reasons.
Even though that is all 100% true, I cannot help but notice that it is the same foods time and time again that are associated with resolving the most common human health concerns.
It is true, for example, that there is a massive deal of overlap in the types of foods that are most likely to resolve the most common health concerns including those around blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, fatty liver disease and more.
The importance of me saying this is to let you know that overly convoluted nutrition strategies or solutions are not likely to be required to improve your health.
You achieve better health by what you do, not by what you don’t
This really is a culmination of everything I’ve discussed so far.
It is, in my view, an inefficient use of mental energy and a detriment to mental health to use avoidance strategies as one’s guiding nutrition principles.
There are too many people out there with glaring gaps in their dietary patterns who have the potential to live better, healthier lives by strategically bridging those gaps via the incorporation of very specific foods or even supplements.
The incorporation of these foods, and the vast nutrients they contain, is what leads one to better health.
I rarely spend my time advising clients against eating certain foods because we are simply too busy finding fun and efficient ways to ensure their weekly dietary patterns are characterized by choices that will bring them the most health and happiness.
Admittedly, on a different day I could have selected one or more different principles – but I do ultimately feel very good about these choices.
If you are an aspiring dietitian, perhaps you’ve found some value in these insights.
If you are a current dietitian, perhaps you see overlap or even conflict with your own values.
If you are a current client of mine, you probably got bored hearing things I’ve already told you.
If you are an aspiring or potential future client, know that you’ve received a truly authentic glimpse into how I few nutrition and my role in helping you master yours.
There is a very humane, reflective side to be that exists on the other side my broad nutrition knowledge, and I am sure to every ounce of it to support you in reaching your goals.
Want to chat further about how I can help?
I’m an email or call away === 647-886-2197.
Andy De Santis RD MPH