This blog is meant to give you a few ideas on how to improve your dieting habits, specifically focusing on 4 steps to developing your own diet, and then 12 specific steps I recommend you incorporate into that.
- You are unique, and your nutritional needs are also unique. The first part of developing a proper diet for yourself is recognizing that nobody else in the world is the same as you, and what works for one person may not work for you. Your body is unique; your metabolism, your body’s responses to certain foods, and the amount of energy you require to perform a given task are all different from every other body in the world.
- Enjoy your healthy diet. The second aspect I would like to address goes back to my recent blog, entitled “How to get ripped”, which was published last week, and that is to enjoy what you eat. A diet needs to be something you enjoy. If you can’t stomach carrots, then don’t eat carrots. Find healthy vegetables and other foods that you enjoy, and make those a part of your eating habits. A diet is not meant to be something temporary, and I don’t expect you to eat something that you thoroughly disgust forever. Find HEALTHY foods that you like, and include those.
- Food = fuel. The third part of having a proper diet is changing the way you think about food. Food is fuel for your body. That doesn’t mean that you should NOT enjoy eating, but your diet should be considered more in terms of what feels good rather than what tastes good. Eventually the two will be the same. Consider when your body needs more fuel. Consider when it needs less fuel. Consider what foods make you tired, which ones make you sleepy, and which ones help you replenish your body after a workout. Plan your diet in terms of your daily schedule. You need certain foods when you wake up, certain foods before and after you work out, and certain foods before you go to bed. This is where you have to experiment. Your body is a finicky thing. One type of food that does a particular thing for somebody else may not have the same effect on you.
- Study food. The fourth and final part of having a healthy diet is taking an interest in nutritional science. Learn which foods are good for you and which are bad for you. Organic does not necessarily mean good for you, processed food is not always bad, and not everything found in nature is good for you. Read articles about dieting found on all sorts of Facebook groups, from health perspectives based on ayurveda (the nutritional science of yoga) to articles for body builders. Taking an active interest in reading about dieting, and choosing what and what not to include in your diet will help you find the right diet for you.
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1) You are unique, and as such you must develop a diet that works for you.
2) Eat what you like.
3) Food is fuel for your body, and that’s how you should think about it.
4) Take an interest in nutritional science.
That being said, I am not going to leave you out to dry and not give you any specific tips. Here are a few guidelines for you to use as a basis to developing your own personalized diet.
1. Don’t skip breakfast.
Don’t skip other meals, for that matter. Skipping meals makes you hungrier later and slows down your metabolism by putting your body into survival mode. When your body does not get food, it conserves energy. If you’re hungry, eat – just don’t eat the whole bag of cookies.
2. Listen to your body.
Your body is the best resource you have for your diet. Test out different foods, and listen to your body afterwards to figure out how you feel. Don’t worry about the immediate satisfaction of having fast food. Pay attention more to how you feel an hour afterwards. If you feel like crap (and you probably will), then maybe McDonalds wasn’t the best idea.
3. No absolute rules. Ever.
Making yourself abide by a rule such as “never eat a cookie, ever” is just asking for trouble. Don’t put such tough restrictions on yourself, because it will only make you think about that particular food more, and lead you to stress over it.
4. Eat sporadically throughout the day.
Never give your metabolism a chance to slow down. Nibble at some food sporadically throughout your day, whether that means eating some almonds, snacking on carrots, or having half of your sandwich at noon and the other half at one.
5. Be active.
If your body moves, your digestive system and your metabolism move. Get up. Walk around. Do a few air squats. Just get your body moving.
6. Eat lots of vegetables.
That green stuff? Eat it. It helps clear out your digestive system, is loaded with nutrients, and helps fill you up. Your stomach likes the feeling of being full, so shove a few greens in there to shut it up. The important thing with vegetables is to remember to not drown it in butter or sauce. Some salt, pepper, and chili powder usually go a long way.
7. Whey protein shakes really aren’t that great for you.
Protein shakes are awesome if you need some protein and you don’t have an alternative, but should not be a regular part of your diet. There are plenty of natural meats (wild-caught salmon, high-quality beef) that are high in protein that will give you the same benefits.
8. Do it like ikea.
Build it yourself. As much as you can, buy foods in their most basic form and construct a meal from there.
9. Take time to eat healthily.
If your excuse is that you don’t have time, don’t try and justify that to me or your trainer. Do you think that it’s me that you’re affecting? You not taking the time to be healthy only negatively affects yourself and those around you by shortening your life span.
10. Your diet is your life.
It isn’t a joke. Depending on what you do or do not eat, you could live for 50 years or for 100 years. Do you want to see your kids graduate from college and get married? Do you want to meet your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren? Ultimately the point of being healthy is to live as long as possible and be able to do the things that you love as long as possible.
Just like all the beer commercials say, apply this concept to your diet. Yes, you could eat the whole pizza, but do you really need to? PS – Don’t eat a whole pizza.
You need water. Just drink it. You don’t really need 8 full glasses a day, but aim for at least 4 or 5. If you’re prone to drinking caffeine, you’ll need to drink a little more water than most people, as caffeine is a diuretic. (It dehydrates you.)
13. Keep it fresh.
Eating the same foods over and over again can get boring. Be open to new recipes and new foods, and do your best to not get bored with your diet. The average human being spends about 90 minutes a day eating or drinking* so we might as well enjoy it.
I hope this helps you develop a diet that works for you. To learn more about my own personal diet, The Man Flow Diet, click here!
You might be interested in some tips on starting off your yoga practice, so read on! 3 blogs covering some basics.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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