So, you’ve started to eat healthier foods which better suit your fitness goals. GREAT! But does it end at swapping your usual meals for more nutritious ones? Turns out, there is still a few habits and behaviours that determine whether or not your efforts yield maximum, or even optimum results.
1. Distracted Eating: As much as I am guilty of doing it as much as the next person, eating while watching TV, scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed or even chatting on the phone, will keep us from enjoying the food, and we’re likely to miss out on signals of satiety given out via hormones Cholecystokinin and GLP-1(Glucagon Like Peptide-1) which work synergistically to slow down movement and absorption of food in the gut and trigger secretion of bile. Once the ramp down occurs, the extra food is just extra load on the digestive system, and it hates working more than it should just as much as we do.
2. None, if not one: Snack commercials are becoming increasingly exploitative, so much so that challenge us to eat one, and not end the entire bag/box/pack. Sure, it’s your favourite chomp and might even be healthy, but if you’re not a 100% sure of stopping at 1, don’t even have that single bite or piece. Because the next thing you know, you’ll be driving past the billboard “Welcome To Emptysburg”, without so much as a “Thank You” from the brand you may be loyal towards, and crazy for. Such instances guilt us into making ill-thought meal decisions, which throw our diet off balance. Sometimes, self-control can be be good thing.
3. Taste Buds vs Satiety: Sure, food should taste good, and definitely helps the better it does, but then the focus of consuming it shifts from giving our body the fuel and nutrients it needs, to re-engaging in the sensory experience without much attention being paid to other signals and factors which should be considered. Does it mean bland food is the way to go? Absolutely.Not. It just means laws of digestion and physiology, sadly, also apply to lip-smacking food. Although their place in the body needs no justification, Tastebuds can sometimes be “The Devil’s Whisper”, if you catch my drift.
4. Food Prep: This is one thing which if every person who starts out their fitness journey learns to be decent at, they are already ahead and have overcome a major challenge. That’s because, most transformations, and especially body composition goals such as losing fat or gaining lean mass, rely heavily on properly timed, well balanced, and easily available meals. And, as a result, the chances of you sticking to the plan go up exponentially. Just pick 2 days in a week to cook, pack and stack your meals in BPA free tupperwares in the fridge. We know why Batman is Batman: PREPARATION.
5. Buy not, binge not: This is something not all of us may experience, but mostly during grocery shopping, picking up that one bag of chips or chocolates, ensures that you have an excuse to ditch your healthy eating streak. Because it’s right there in the line of sight, downing that piece of chocolate becomes infinitely easier than walking or driving down to the local store to satisfy the craving, and more so if it’s on special. Wonder why they don’t have ‘Half-Price’ at the deli, and most of the time for candies, chips and soft drinks? Well, the fresh salad is more worth at full price than the above junk will be for even a cent.
6. Post Workout Feast: Generally, when we train for around 30-45 minutes at moderate intensity, our bodies are burning anywhere around 250-400 calories, maybe more, which means we’re burning at least 3-5x more calories/min than at rest. So, the needle in the Fuel Gauge races towards ‘E’ and our body tends to want to push us toward overcompensating the refeed, and our subsequent meal can get a bit indiscriminate, especially if you’ve floated in the 60-80% intensity zone. If you’ve decided to binge, you may instead split the whole thing in two, and have them with a gap of a few hours, provided the first one doesn’t guilt you into questioning your life choices.
7. The Fear of Fat: Maybe it’s the 2.1x the amount of calories, but the word ‘Fat’ scares some people more than it should. You probably know a few of them. The truth is, as long as you don’t cross the caloric deficit/maintainence line, whatever that number is for you, having healthy fats in your diet (my favourite is Avocado, but Olives do have their own place) will not only keep you feeling full for longer, preventing any unplanned snacking, but also contribute towards down regulating your blood cholesterol levels. Not to mention the physiological processes for which fat is a critical element. Just remember that having too much of it will overwork your system, and moderation should be enforced more stringently here.