As discussed in our last blog post, we know that body weight is largely controlled by the brain’s hormonal/metabolic influence, and is also affected by many other factors that we can’t necessarily control. However, there are some behavioural components, including nutrition, that can have some impact on body weight.
Perhaps you've come across the 80/20 approach to healthy eating at some point. You know, the idea that’s based on eating healthy 80% of the time, followed by indulgence in other foods (without feeling guilty) for the other 20% of the time. The premise of this dietary approach maintains that healthy eating should not be an “on-and-off” switch. Rather, it’s a way of eating that includes all kinds of foods.
With that being said, everybody has different opinions on what works for them when it comes to “healthy” eating and managing a comfortable body weight. In addition to the 80/20 rule, intuitive eating, low carbohydrate, and ketogenic are all common dietary patterns that may be adopted. However, regardless of the eating style that you prefer, there are common elements that need to be considered to ensure that your eating habits are working in your favour.
5 Key Nutrition-Related Behaviours that Can Impact Your Weight:
1. Self-Monitoring (aka keeping a food journal)
We can write an entire blog post on this very topic, which we probably will (wink wink, nudge nudge) because this behaviour is the most important aspect of them all.
When it comes to self-monitoring your nutrition, that translates into keeping a food journal to help you track your eating habits. Regardless of the dietary pattern that you choose to follow, having a good sense of what, how often, and how much you’re eating can help provide insight into a variety of habits that may be helping or hindering your efforts at managing your weight.
2. Make Time to Eat Well
Doesn’t everybody wish that they had one extra hour tacked onto their day to get through all of the tasks that need to be done? We sure do! But here’s the reality check: we’re living on borrowed time. We don’t know how long or when that “sand through the hourglass” is going to stop pouring down. Time is precious. Make the most out of the time that you have. Eating healthy doesn’t just happen. It needs to be prioritized. Not tomorrow, not next week, but NOW.
3. Meal Planning
Planning to eat well goes hand-in-hand with setting the time aside. That’s because when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This may involve choosing recipes that you want to make, talking to your family or housemates about what you all want to eat, making a grocery list in advance of shopping, or even batch cooking meals. Any strategy that makes eating healthy easier is always going to be a good strategy for you.
4. Capitalize on Nutrients that Make You Feel Full Longer
When we think about what we want to eat, it’s important to remember that some nutrients are more satiating (or filling) than others. When weight management is a consideration, appetite control can be a challenging factor to work around. That’s why it’s important to fill your body with foods that are filling and take longer for your body to breakdown and digest, such as foods that are high in protein, fibre, and healthy fats.
5. Be Strategic & Set Some Goals
When starting to make changes to your eating habits, the thought of doing so can be very overwhelming. In any aspect of life, when we want to make a change, we tend to focus on the big picture and not necessarily all of the steps involved in making that change happen. That’s where strategy can be helpful and why setting goals can be effective.
Some people work best through tackling small goals initially that don’t “rock the boat” so to speak. These are changes that cause the least amount of resistance and can be accomplished rather easily. For example, you may love adding cream to your coffee, but switching from 10% to 5% cream may not even be noticed (or missed for that matter) as opposed to stopping cream altogether.
On the other hand, some people really love the rush and confidence that can be gained by tackling a really large goal or a more worrisome behaviour first. They may feel that a particular component of their eating pattern may be impacting a variety of other eating or health behaviours, so they want to address this concern right away. For example, missing meals regularly, which can potentially affect dietary quality, appetite, and health (eg blood sugar control).
To sum up this discussion, it’s important to realize that you can’t dictate your weight, but you can modify certain behaviours that can influence your weight (to a certain extent). Nutrition is a key behavioural element that can modified to help you achieve the healthiest, happiest, and most comfortable you (regardless of the number on the scale).
Have a great week! Use your time wisely ;)