Happy 2016! Every January I like to do a Nutrition theme in my Bootcamps as most people could use a little re-set after the holidays. Today’s guest blogger Nathalie Niddam is the first Nutrition Specialist that I’ll be featuring this month.
I met Nathalie when she took my canfitpro Personal Trainer Certification course a few years ago and since then I’ve been seeing her amazing content everywhere. She advises for many fitness facilities in Toronto and her services are available on League here. I can also attest that she doesn’t mess around in a Crossfit class. Yowza. – Oonagh
How to make 2016 Your Best Year Yet….
By Nathalie Niddam, CNP, NNCP
But where to begin? A cleanse? A juice fast? A 30 day diet?
If 2016 is going to hold the title as the year when you changed your ways (nutritionally anyway) for good then you may have to take a longer view that goes beyond whatever kick off program you sign up for.
The good news with these types of programs – assuming that they are well designed and executed by someone who knows what they are doing – is that they can teach you a thing or two and in a perfect world set you off in a positive new direction.
The bad news is that for many people it begins and ends with the program – too often they are back to their old ways within days (if not minutes – as they enjoy a celebratory donut) and then find themselves right back where they started….aka the infamous Square One.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I spend a fair amount of time coaching my clients to make the seemingly small but meaningful changes that will make the most difference in their health. If we do it right, these are often the changes that stick, and interestingly – the changes that produce the greatest and most long lasting results in achieving a healthy body weight, improved energy and, in many cases deeper health improvements that will ultimately lead to long term vitality and balance.
So how do we do this?
It’s easy – well sort of…. ok, actually it isn’t that easy BUT it does get easier. It requires some diligence and the willingness to reframe one’s attitudes around eating and, it also requires 3 other things that often don’t get much attention:
Accept and embrace the fact that this will sometimes be hard.
Wait. Aren’t I supposed to be telling you that this is a piece of cake? That all you have to do is eat “this and not that” and the extra pounds will just “melt off”?
So here’s a (not so) secret: improving your nutrition requires change and change requires work….sometimes work means we have to struggle. And, here’s the kicker: struggle is good! Especially if you can frame it as an opportunity to be your “best self”, an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to rise above yourself.
You see – if you accept that changing things up is going to be a challenge and you can embrace that challenge then you are way ahead of everyone else! You will be more likely to stick it out when the going gets tough because you already know it’s going to be tough. And THAT is ok. It means that every once in a while you will fall off the wagon, but instead of feeling like you failed and throwing in the towel – because you already knew it was going to be tough – you can pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get back to work.
Know why you are doing this.
Write it down. Keep it in a place that you can see and make it meaningful to you – whether it is to improve your digestion, fit into your favourite jeans or get off the brink of type 2 diabetes – whatever resonates for you.
Celebrate your successes no matter how small they may seem
Like not having a cookie during the 3 hour meeting at work today – or maybe you only had one whereas you normally have 3 – this IS success you can build on!
So. Spend a bit of time digesting that little tidbit and then check out my 10 tips for improving your nutrition – for most people this will be enough to improve your energy, your immunity, your digestion and even your sleep.
(If, however, after a few weeks you are still struggling there may be an underlying cause that you need to address, in that case you may need to dig a bit deeper and consult a Nutritionist (like me!) or other health professional depending on the issue….to get to the bottom of what’s holding you back but try this first and see how you do):
- Start every morning with a tall glass of warm or room temperature water with fresh lemon juice to help your liver and digestion get going for the day.
2. Eat your vegetables – try to eat as much variety as possible to maximize vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
3. Eat protein with every meal and always eat the best quality you can afford.
- If you eat animal proteins make sure to focus on wild caught fish, pastured chicken (and their eggs) and some grass fed beef (& lamb, bison, etc…).
If you follow a plant based diet pay extra attention to your protein intake to make sure you don’t fall short on essential amino acids. You can get these from eating nuts, seeds, whole sprouted grains, beans and legumes. However, do not eat these at the expense of your vegetables!
4. Eat good fats. Whether you follow a plant based or omnivorous diet – you need healthy fat to transport and deliver valuable fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Focus on Olive oil, Avocados, Coconut Oil and coconut milk, Ghee, some nuts and seeds. Try to avoid over processed oils, hydrogenated and trans fats.
5. Fermented Foods will introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut to support digestion and overall health. Eat raw and unpasteurized sauerkraut or kimchi, Kombucha tea, plain whole milk yogurt or kefir (cow, sheep or goat milk) if you tolerate it…coconut milk yogurt is also great just stay away from the flavoured varieties. Eat daily.
6. Hydrate: drink filtered water about 6-8 cups a day. If you find water boring, add some lemon, lime or orange slices or drink herbal teas.
7. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are pretty hard to get in sufficient amounts even for people who eat fish. While certain plant foods do provide precursors to omega 3 our ability to convert these is pretty low so I recommend that people take a good supplement daily. Either a good fish oil or, for vegans, an algae based supplement will help you to meet your needs
8. Avoid added sugars, alcohol (in excess) and processed foods – even if they are gluten free, “all natural”, etc… Rule of thumb: read the ingredients. If it looks like to was made in a lab then it probably was – stay away.
9.Sleep.You’ve heard it before and it is true – sleep deprivation will undo the best diet – get your zzzz’s and your body will thank you.
10. Eat Mindfully. This could easily be it’s own post but in a nutshell – try to make time for your meals, sit yourself down, appreciate the nourishment you are about to consume. Take a deep breath or two. Chew your food thoroughly. Relax and enjoy.
We live in an increasingly fast paced and complex world – how you eat need not be over complicated. The simpler your food is, by any measure, the better it will be for you.
And be kind to yourself, change for most people does not happen overnight, make small gradual changes, keep track of how you are feeling and embrace the challenge – you will succeed.
Just keep your eye on your why and the rest should follow.
What do you think of Nathalie’s advice? I LOVE her integrated model of Nutrition, that includes Nutrient recommendations but also how to approach behaviour change and a healthy mindset. Leave a comment below if anything made you think! – Oonagh