My first full week of being 40 has been filled with the norovirus. I'll wait while you google that if you're unfamiliar.
You're welcome. Hopefully I only share that special kind of hell verbally and not physically.
Also, when I renewed my driver's license, I was informed that I had to take an eye exam because I'm "over 40."
Let the games begin.
I joke, but a friend put it best the other day: enjoy the privilege of aging.
Anyway, a full four days of ginger ale has me thinking full steam about nutrition and the kinds of food I plan to eat when I starting putting solid food back in my system. So with that in mind, here are five random thoughts on nutrition:
1. Track your food for a week
It sounds so basic, but the best way to figure out how to make changes to your diet is to spend some time tracking everything you eat.
And I mean everything.
Apps like MyFitnessPal have made this process much easier, as you can scan a barcode, type in the serving amount, and voila! You have your total calorie amount.
The catch is to track everything and to be totally honest for one week. This includes salad dressings, drinks, snacks, apples, chocolate chips, supplements; track it all.
2. Measure your food
This goes along with the first thought, but measuring your food for a few days can be very helpful. Let me tell you how I felt when I measured out an actual serving of Trader Joe's Trail Mix versus what I felt was a serving.
Very. Sad. In. My. Heart.
Measuring is especially important with any oils or dressings your using. I've seen folks who practice clean eating and don't see the results they expect. Often it comes down to something as simple as recognizing you were using three tablespoons of olive oil on your salad instead of one tablespoon.
Three tablespoons equate to 360 calories and 42 grams of fat.
But it's easy to over-use if you don't measure.
3. Find like-minded people who support your nutrition changes
When you begin to turn down the sweets around the office or french fries when out with friends, others often react to what your personal changes mean about them. If you're cutting down on carbs and I'm not, I might suddenly feel guilty that I'm not joining you. So my reaction, sometimes without even thinking about it, is to pressure you.
"It's just one night."
"You're going to the gym every day."
"It's just dessert."
The bottom line is finding a supportive group of people who respect your wishes. Sure it's ok to indulge now and then when you're making these changes. But if you're constantly swimming upstream because no one around is supporting your decisions, it will be a lot harder to stay the course.
4. Make small changes
Overhauling your entire nutrition plan is a lot to ask. And yet almost all of us do it, and many of us are caught in a cycle of doing it over and over again. First of all, we're overwhelmed with the amount of options out there, and it's hard to decide which one is right.
Whichever route you decide to take, practice changing one habit per week. (Tracking your food intake can help you make these decisions).
Start with the empty calories in drinks. Sodas, iced teas, even some types of flavored waters can have 45-90 calories.
Are you eating two breakfasts? Do you eat when you get up and then eat again a few hours later? Try eliminating one of those meals and see how you feel. Sometimes we eat out of habit, and not out of hunger.
5.Practice the 80/20 rule.
Some of the simplest nutritional advice I've ever seen is from Tony Gentilcore. "Don't eat like an a**hole." It's concrete, to the point advice, that might lack some details but sums up the basic idea behind clean eating.
Most of us know what we need to do, it's just a question of doing it. Eating clean is simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy.
It's also nearly impossible to eat perfectly all of the time. Thanksgiving is next week; there will be pie, and turkey and gravy and pie. The 80/20 rule means that you're eating clean at least 80% of the time, and understanding that 20% of the time you're going to be at family gatherings or on vacations where you can't stick to all of the same habits. Allow for those times.
And enjoy your Saturday.