"Here's what you should eat …"
Tell someone you want to lose weight or improve your diet, and this is almost always the first piece of advice you get.
In fact, the average person doesn't say that they need the most help. Not by far.
We know because we ask thousands of new Precision Nutrition customers every year about their biggest nutritional challenges.
"I don't know what to eat" doesn't even top 10.
And year after year, people tend to have the same food frustrations no matter what new "diet revolution" or what "no-fail meal plan" comes on the market.
You could write that off as human nature. However, we would suggest another option:
Many nutrition coaches and diet programs don't focus enough on solving the real nutritional problems that prevent people from making progress.
Neither do they help people build the basic skills they need to keep up with the changes they make.
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That is why we share these secrets with our own customers.
We analyzed their answers and put them together in a snapshot that really worried people. The data here is people's own descriptions of their real nutritional problems and stressors.
More importantly, we have also adopted real strategies – developed, tested and refined while working with over 100,000 customers – that will help you (or your customers) to finally overcome your obstacles to healthy eating.
The diet problems that drive people crazy
As you can see, "I don't know what to eat" is at the bottom of the list. However, this is the nutritional challenge that most people – including trainers – are obsessed with.
Of course, what you eat is important for all sorts of reasons: appetite control, proper nutrition, optimal performance and so on. But "what to eat" is probably not the number 1 holding you (or your customers) back.
Most people somehow know what they are should eat.
You probably never said "I really shouldn't eat this" before drinking a large bowl of spinach. It is more likely that you will pronounce these words if you dip upside down in a bowl of salted caramel ice cream.
If you're looking for a long-term solution to these high-level problems, more nutritional knowledge is probably not the answer. Neither is a menu. Or a new set of macros.
No, if you're struggling with your eating, eating, and exercise habits, you'll likely need help with your behavior, especially in line with important basics. (We call these "Level 1" practices and we will introduce them to you in this article.)
According to our incoming customers, their most pressing nutritional problems boil down to:
How do you stop eating too much while finding convenient, practical, and satisfying ways to enjoy foods that best nourish your body?
Solve simple problems? No.
Can they be solved? Absolutely.
With that in mind, here are the top 8 nutritional challenges * as well as best practices to help you make better decisions and get better results.
Don't try to address all of these challenges at the same time. That rarely works.
Instead, choose only one. Focus on it for two or three weeks.
When you're ready to do more, pick another area that needs some TLC and give it your full attention.
In this way you can make incredible and lasting progress. We know because we've seen it with thousands of real customers.
Now it is your turn.
* We have summarized closely related categories.
Nutritional Challenge No. 1: "I can't stop stress / emotional eating."
More than 60 percent of our new customers call emotional eating / stress eating a major challenge for nutrition. In addition, over 50 percent say they also get “strong cravings” and “snacks when they're not hungry”.
When you relate, knowing that you are not alone may be a relief. This is of course a small consolation if your spoon scrapes the bottom of a freshly opened jar of biscuit butter.
But what if you find that this behavior occurs?
- Every time your mother calls?
- If you are afraid of a new week on Sunday evening?
- Whenever you see, smell or hear something that reminds you of your ex?
In our coaching approach, we call this "noticing and naming" and it gives us great opportunities to regain control.
Emotional eating and intense desire are usually part of a behavioral pattern that is triggered by a particular experience – a thought, a feeling, and / or a situation.
If you can identify the trigger, you can disrupt the behavior pattern and make various decisions.
We use a so-called "break the chain" worksheet, with which customers can identify their emotional and stress-eating triggers. We then apply a step-by-step strategy to create alternative actions.
For complete instructions, see this article: Conquer your cravings and break the scary cycle that makes you overeat.
Nutritional Challenge # 2: "I am not planning meals."
According to the survey, 53 percent of men and women activate this check box.
But good news: Serious improvements in this area may not be as time-consuming and complicated as it sounds.
Think about food planning in a continuum.
Far left: You didn't worry about what you could eat later today or tomorrow or the rest of the week. Most decisions are made after you're already hungry and staring at the contents of your fridge – or when you look at a transit menu.
Far right: You spend your shopping on Sunday morning and take the time in the afternoon to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days, put them in containers and leave nothing to chance.
But in between? There are real opportunities to make progress and no complicated meal plan is required. You just have to do it a little better than now.
A good start:
Plan to eat one to two servings (think a lot the size of your fist) with each meal.
Don't worry about variety for now: if you like steamed broccoli, raw carrots, or cucumber slices, you can take them with every meal if you want. Just practice buying what you need and eat it at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And if you're in a restaurant, stick to the plan. That could mean getting a side salad with an order of broccoli instead of fries. (For bonus planning, check the restaurant menu online before you get started.)
You will be amazed how this simple approach can change the quality of your meals without requiring a lot of effort.
For more ways to make healthy eating easier, see: Why eating plans are usually shit.
Nutritional Challenge No. 3: "I eat too quickly."
While not at the top of the challenge list, it was the main problem for men – almost 60 percent of men raise their hands.
And it turns out that these people are just right. Almost everyone benefits from eating slower.
In our coaching method, slow eating is one of the first practices that we demand from our customers. The reason is simple: it is incredibly effective.
Deliberately slowing down – even if you only take a breath or two between bites at first – can help you eat less without feeling disadvantaged.
And we've found that it works for everyone, from the most advanced dieters to those who struggle with healthy eating for a lifetime.
To learn how to use this practice to transform your body – starting with your next meal – read The 30 Day Slow Food Challenge.
Nutritional Challenge No. 4: "I have a serious sweet tooth."
Maybe you love cookies. Or M & Ms. Or anything that's rolled in sugar.
According to almost 50 percent of our new customers, this is completely normal.
However, it's usually not just the sweetness that appeals to your taste buds, stomach, and brain. It's a devilishly delicious combination of sugar, fat, and salt that makes certain foods almost irresistible. There is even a special name for them: hyperpalatable.
In fact, food manufacturers use this flavor formula to make products that you can't stop eating. (After all, it's great for selling.)
The biggest challenge with these foods is their availability: they are everywhere, even in your kitchen.
So, think of Berardi's first law (named after its author, the co-founder of Precision Nutrition, Dr. John Berardi):
If a food is in your home or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you barely tolerate will eat it at some point.
This also leads to Berardi's first law:
If there is a healthy food in your home or property, somebody you love or someone you tolerate little will eventually eat it.
We are not saying that you should make candy out of bounds. Instead, design your environment to prepare for success.
What would happen if you bought some fruit for dessert instead of this huge pack of oreo on your next visit to the grocery store?
Give it a try and watch what happens.
For more information on how to handle hyper-tasty foods, see Manufactured Delicacies: Why You Can't Stop Eating Too Much.
Nutritional Challenge No. 5: "I eat a lot out of town."
With so many temptations on restaurant menus, it's natural to feel a little tortured about what to order. As soon as this mental back and forth begins, it's too easy to say, "Damn it, give me the carbonara and pass on the breadsticks."
In addition to planning meals or your choice of food (as in Challenge 2), you can also plan how to show up.
- Is this a special occasion where you want to treat yourself to freedom? Is the food in this restaurant so unique and fantastic that it's really worth it? (If so, slow down and really enjoy the experience.)
- Or would you prefer to match your choice to your healthy eating practice? (If so, you should prepare in advance by checking the menu or even setting a phone or calendar reminder to stay on the right track.)
There is no right or wrong answer, but an early decision can help you stay focused and not be distracted by a mountain of pasta.
Every time you follow your plan, notice how you feel after you finish your meal.
Ask yourself, "Am I as happy as I would have been?"
If so, this is a positive step to encourage the same behavior next time. (With more practice, smart decisions become easier.)
If not, do the following:
- Order a plant-rich dish. (Shoot until half of your plate is vegetables.)
- Choose a lean protein. (Read: Chicken Breast or Fish.)
- Avoid breaded and fried foods. (This eliminates a lot of bad decisions.)
- Ask for associations at the side. (And use responsibly.)
- Eat slowly. (See challenge # 3 above.)
- Stop when you're 80 percent full. (See Challenge No. 6 below.)
These are not fixed rules, but a practical guide to eating – whether you're in a gourmet restaurant or a fast food chain.
Is that your biggest challenge? Read 25 ways to eat well on the go for additional insight and strategies.
Nutritional Challenge No. 6: "I eat larger portions than I need."
It is popular in the weight loss industry to tell people, "It is not your fault."
And in that case, it's probably true. Between your parents instructing you to "clean your plate", the abundance of hypersensitive foods (see Challenge # 4), and the mega meals served by chain restaurants, it can feel natural to eat more, than you need.
Which means a reasonably sized meal … feels completely unnatural. At least until you get used to it. And that takes practice.
An easy start:
Eat slowly (Challenge # 3 … again) and stop when you're 80 percent full. Do this no matter how much is left on your plate or how uncomfortable you feel.
It won't be easy at first, and you may be asking yourself, "Am I 80 percent full or 70 percent?" or "Did I totally mess it up and went over there?"
Do not worry. It's about becoming a more mindful eater and taking better account of your body's satiety signals. It takes time and like any skill you improve with practice.
We strive for progress here, not for perfection.
Of course, it helps to start with an adequate serving size. However, you don't have to put your meals in a calculator in advance. With our simple but effective portion and calorie control guide, you can use your hands to estimate how you should eat.
Nutritional Challenge No. 7: "I don't have time to prepare meals."
Do you see a topic popping up? Sure, this has to do with "I don't plan meals" and "I overeat". But it is also a little different because it specifically states the reason for this: the lack of a key resource.
Let's face it now, there may also be a lack of desire here, at least compared to activities that you have time for. And that's okay.
After all, many people are on the go all day to make a living, commute and / or take care of others. You deserve some time to relax, and if that means grabbing something to take with you so that you can sink on your couch 30 minutes earlier, we'll get it.
But let's go back to our continuum concept:
- If you don't prepare meals now, can you find time to prepare one meal every week?
- Or if you do three, could you find time to do four?
If you can only do it an additional mealYou will take positive measures to change your behavior and improve your health.
This is how a real, lasting transformation happens: step by step, not by trying to change everything overnight.
So find out what action you are now able to do – even if it doesn't seem like much – and try it out. Then practice it next week. When it gets easier, ask yourself, "Could I add a homemade meal?"
Remember: progress, not perfection.
You can find more ways to deal with a hectic lifestyle in 7 ways to gain time for exercise and nutrition.
Nutritional Challenge No. 8: "I drink too much."
When you nod your head, we feel you. And more than 30 percent of our new customers say they consume excessive alcohol.
The question is: what does "too much" mean? It can be different for everyone.
Perhaps you drink two or three glasses of wine at night and wonder if you rely too much on alcohol to break down the rim. Or maybe you don't drink during the week but drink too much at the weekend.
Even if you don't have a "serious" problem, your drinking habits can affect your ability to live a healthier lifestyle – by affecting your sleep and your judgment ("Hey everyone! Who wants late night nachos??") And Stimulate your appetite.
Ask yourself: What can you do to feel a little better about your alcohol consumption?
- Could you have two glasses instead of three tonight?
- Could you drink slower to make a glass last longer?
- Could you have a glass of water between cocktails?
If your alcohol consumption doesn't destroy your work or family life, you don't necessarily have to put the brakes on.
Make yourself comfortable and notice how you feel. Better awareness can lead to better decisions.
For more help and advice, visit: Would I be healthier if I stopped drinking?
If you are or want to be a trainer …
Learning how to coach customers, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes – in a way that helps them adopt simple but effective habits that they can maintain – is both an art and a science .
If you want to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification. The next group will start shortly.
The Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification is the world's most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to truly understand how foods affect a person's health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.
The Level 1 curriculum, developed over 15 years and proven with over 100,000 customers and patients, is the sole authority in the field of nutritional science and the art of coaching.
Regardless of whether you are already in the middle of your career or just starting out, Level 1 certification is your springboard for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the Authority to coach it, and the Ability to turn what you know into results.
(Of course, if you are already a Level 1 certification student or graduate, read our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, one-year mentorship targeting elite professionals who master the art of coaching and want to be part of the top 1% of the world's health and fitness trainers.)
Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You save up to 30% and secure your place 24 hours before everyone else.
We will open places in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.
If you want to learn more, we have created the following pre-sale list, which offers you two advantages.
- Pay less than everyone else. We want to reward people who want to improve their skills and who are willing to commit to the training they need. Therefore, we offer a discount of up to 30% on the general price when you register for the pre-sale list.
- Register 24 hours in front of the public and increase your chances of getting a place. We only open the certification program twice a year. Due to the high demand, places in the program are limited and sold out within a few hours in the past. However, if you sign up for the pre-sale list, you have the option to register 24 hours before everyone else.
When you're ready for one deeper understanding of nutrition, the Authority to coach it, and the Ability to turn what you know into results… This is your chance to see what the world's leading professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.