Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nutritional Guidance

People often ask if we here at IF give nutritional advice. Our answer to them is yes, but NOT UNTIL you have written down EVERYTHING that you eat for 7 days. Next people traditionally ask if we will then give them a diet plan. Let's put this in very simple terms. Diet plans are not an answer to anything; they are a short-term fix for a life-long problem. Being told what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner does not work as a long-term solution. What we need to be able to do is develop healthy habits and choices that work in a variety of contexts. We need our diet to be able to stay relatively healthy in any environment. Because these questions are asked of us so often, it seems important to break this process down.  The first step to changing our diet is as follows:
Create a diet journal handy enough to carry everywhere. Below is an example of what it could look like:


Using a journal like this that tracks the time of day, the type of food, and the mood we are in when we eat that food (this can be anything – happy, sad, bored, tired, stressed, etc…) provides really good information on not only what we are eating, but also when and why. Once our journal has been used for a full 7 days, we are ready to make some changes. Please note that it is VERY important to write EVERYTHING down, not just our healthy choices.
 Now take those 7 days of the journal and go through it for evaluation. Everywhere that we find a food that is “suspect” in terms of how healthy it is put an alternative in that column. Next time we start to eat that item, look first at our alternatives and make a smart choice. An example of this would be “on Friday at 8pm, I ate vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce; my alternative is vanilla frozen yogurt and blueberries” or something to that effect.
The "mood" information can give us very valuable information as to what we eat when we find ourselves in different emotional situations. Do we see a lot of chocolate chip/walnut cookies on the same line with feeling blue or stressed or ignored? Ah, good information. Do we eat less when happy or more? Are we using food to try and alter our emotional state when actually we need to tackle the emotional/psychological problems in another way?  It might also be valuable, whenever we eat, to note whether or not we are actually physically hungry. That often plays right along with our mood at the moment.

Here is the tricky part of changing our diet. When we start into Week 2 of our diet journaling… wait for it… LET'S ACTUALLY MAKE SOME CHANGES. Yes, it seems really straightforward and it is, when it is being written in a blog or thought about in our heads, but, more often than not, people choose to eat things over and over again regardless of how unhealthy they are. When we are making our decisions, we need to always think about the weight gain/nutrition window. You can see the swim up stream blog from May 3rd 2012 ( ) to refresh your memory. Below is a diagram that will illustrate how to use this window. Remember that it is always critical that we keep your nutrient window full without going into the weight gain window.

These are tools that actually can work in assisting us in our diet changes. Let it be perfectly clear, however, these are tools to ASSIST us in our diet changes, they are not a magical stomach staple or potion that makes us gag when you see delicious foods. Cinnamon Toast Crunch will still taste delicious even if we are 100% aware that it is basically cinnamon and sugar- flavored poison. We make our own choices when nobody is around. It is our call if we want to crush a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while lying in bed at midnight. It is also up to us if we want to be healthy and have a working, conditioned body in which to live.

~ Yoshia

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