Composing a meal- an easy eating framework from a certified nutrition coach
Diets don’t work, nutrition education does.
Think of dieting like driving an old, classic car through a parade.
The old men driving their old cars just want people to ooogle over what they look like.
Just like driving a car through a parade, diets are meant to help people, including yourself, oooh and ahhh over what your body looks like.
Diets are meant to help you “look better.”
Nutrition education is like going to mechanic school.
Do you want to be the expert of your own body or do you want to be clapped for along a parade?
If you want to learn about your human body so that you can demystify how to best take care of yourself, you need nutrition education, not dieting education.
How can you tell the difference?
Dieting often involves temporary, restrictive practices focused on short-term weight loss goals. It can sometimes foster a cycle of deprivation, leading to a less sustainable approach to overall well-being.
On the other hand, nutrition education transcends the limitations of a diet by providing a comprehensive understanding of how food fuels and nourishes our bodies.
Nutrition education empowers individuals to make informed choices based on the nutritional content of their meals, fostering a long-term, holistic approach to health.
While dieting may offer quick fixes, nutrition education becomes a lifelong investment, promoting not only weight management but also enhanced energy levels, improved mental clarity, and a resilient foundation for overall health.
It’s a shift from a temporary mindset to a sustainable lifestyle, creating a positive ripple effect in every aspect of our lives.
Nutrition education promises no aesthetic or weight-based outcomes- this is where many of you will exit out of this window.
Before you leave though, promise me you’ll come back to this blog post when you realize you have no idea how to feed yourself unless you’re following a diet, when the weight comes piling back on, when your hunger and cravings are out of control– because that is one of the guaranteed outcomes of dieting in the first place.
What nutrition education can promise though is that if you give yourself enough time to listen, learn, and trust your body’s signals (takes time) and pair it with actual knowledge about nutrition (vs knowledge over someone’s constructed method of eating that was not designed with your individual body in mind in the first place), you will:
- know when your body is hungry and how much to eat
- know what foods serve what purposes, so you know what kind of food to eat when
- know how to compose meals and snacks no matter where you are
- drastically reduce cravings
- learn what foods you actually like vs eating what you’ve been told is “healthy”
- stop gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over again
Most nutrition education these days revolves around teaching people what to un-learn about food. Plenty of folks believe that dieting makes them nutrition (or even body) experts- none of which is true.
There’s a lot to learn about food! There’s even more to unlearn about it.
Today, we’ll learn how to build a balanced meal.
Balanced meals will are composed of 4 categories of food:
- produce (fiber)
That’s it! (More details about each meal component below)
Dieting will tell you to avoid or limit certain foods- which is exactly why you have yet to have lifelong success.
Cutting out foods or food groups does not work.
It never has, it never will. If it did, you wouldn’t be reading this because you’d have the perfect diet already that’s so easy to stick to and works so well that you’ve lost all your weight forever and never have to think about it again.
Yet here we are 😉
Nutrition education will teach you that all foods fit and that your biggest eating “mistake” is that you’re not adding enough to your meals.
In other words, you don’t have to give up a single thing you’re already eating but rather, add more to your meals from the above list.
Let’s say you hit up Starbucks each day on your way to work.
You get a fancy drink with sugar + a pastry.
Anything with sugar is a carb. Pastries are carbs + fat.
This meal is missing protein and produce/fiber.
To balance your Starbucks morning meal, all you have to do is add a protein source and a fiber source.
BAM! That’s a complete meal. (Examples on what foods fall into which categories below.)
Why we need to build meals this way:
When we eat, your body releases hormones to digest the food and put it to use.
Your body doesn’t care or even know where the fuel is coming from- if you’re eating food, your body will digest it, break down its parts, and begin using and storing fuel accordingly.
One of the metabolic processes of eating is blood sugar and the release of insulin.
With diseases like type 2 diabetes (a hormone disorder that’s preventable and reversible), we know that folks are eating in such a way that they’re overtaxing their body’s ability to regulate its own blood sugar.
How can we prevent this?
Eating balanced meals around 90-95% of the time.
Want a slice of cake for breakfast? Go for it. Cake is carbs + fat (just like the pastry.) Want that slice of cake to become part of a balanced breakfast? Pair it with a full serving of protein and a full serving of produce/fiber.
When we eat carbs, protein, fat, and fiber together, our blood sugar will be stable for hours, hunger and cravings are handled, and your body is now properly fueled.
Here are some examples of which foods fall into which categories:
- fruit juice
- protein shakes
- greek yogurt
- cottage cheese
- rice + beans together
- egg yolks
- fatty fish like salmon
- red meat
- full fat dairy
- peanut butter/nut butters
- anything you can pull off of a tree or out of the ground
- fresh is great but so is canned or frozen
It looks incredibly boring and anticlimactic, but that’s the point!
You literally just pick a food from each category and compose a meal.
When I go grocery shopping, I create a loose plan of which components I’ll be eating at each meal for the week and I buy accordingly.
Do I have carb sources for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks?
Then I just keep going down the list for each meal for each component.
While eating education does not aim to provide weight loss, eating education is meant to help you finally feed yourself like an adult who knows how to manage a human body.
Decades of dieting and food misinformation is what makes this so challenging.
Challenge yourself to compose balanced meals 90-95% of the time for the next 90 days– you’ll find your hunger feels under control & your cravings are drastically reduced.
Give it a go!