For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about mindfulness: what it is, and why it is important. But, at the end of the day, mindfulness is only one tool (albeit an important one) when it comes to nutrition and having a healthy relationship with food. It is part of a much bigger picture. At Viking Athletics, we want our members to achieve a state of “deep health.” This is another nebulous term that gets thrown around, but for our purposes, in the context of food, it means that you understand the different roles that food can play.
Most of us train regularly. Heck, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t. For us, food definitely serves as fuel. But if we ONLY view food as fuel, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “bad foods” vs. “good foods,” and to get down on ourselves if we eat something that falls into the former category. Achieving a state of deep health means that we recognize that food can be more than fuel; it can provide comfort, it can provide an enjoyable experience, it can be something that we share with friends and family. A healthy mindset is part of deep health. If the thought of eating a slice of birthday cake at a friend’s birthday party paralyzes you with fear, then we have a problem.
Our goal is to make more optimal food choices, hopefully about 80% of the time. If you don’t know what an optimal meal looks like, the plate below illustrates a pretty good starting point (we can tweak the plate and number of meals per day based on your goals). We strive for consistency and sustainability, not perfection. If you adopt this mindset, then occasionally indulging in a nice dinner, a burger and beer, a Halloween candy feast, etc. should not upset you.
The greatest analogy I’ve ever heard for this is that eating meals is like brushing your teeth. I think (hope) it’s safe to say that most of us brush our teeth at least twice a day. Have you ever been so tired (or drunk) that you just go to sleep without brushing your teeth? If so, did you just brush your teeth normally the next day and get back on track? Or did you say “fuck it, I didn’t brush last night, my week is ruined, I’m not brushing my teeth anymore this week, I’m going to eat ALL the candy, and I’ll start again on Monday?” And did you call your dentist in a panic for an emergency cleaning? I hope the answer to the last two questions is “of course not, that would be ridiculous!” Well, the same goes for meals.*
Reframing our view of food is the first step towards having a healthy relationship with it. The goal of this blog is to help educate our readers, and we frequently talk about forming healthy habits. But habits, to be effective, need to be developed in the right state of mind. And knowledge needs to be framed in the right context. So, mindset is the base of the pyramid.
This is largely what nutrition coaching is about. Our goals are to help you change your mindset, to celebrate the little successes, to help you set up your environment for success, to teach you about nutrition, and to help you build the habits that will help you achieve your goals. It’s a process, and it goes well beyond just counting macros. Need help with your nutrition? Viking Nutrition is here to help! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a consult!
*Thanks to Jennifer Broxterman of Nutrition Rx for the analogy!