Nutrition 101: A Case for committing 100% to the Nutrition Challenge...

...especially if you’re skeptical.

I know that the challenge has already started, but maybe you decided not to participate. Or, you decided to participate but you are doing so begrudgingly and are thinking about quitting tomorrow. We want you to own this challenge, and commit to it for yourself. So here’s some responses for common objections people have to fully committing.

1.    I just want to eat everything in moderation. I don’t want to be a crazy extremist.

Guess what. We neither want you to be crazy nor an extremist. We don’t want you to adhere to these guidelines 365 days a year, or even do a nutrition challenge every other month. We actually want you to have a healthy relationship with food, and even love it. I know I love food more now that I have been eating this way for the past 3 years than I ever did before.

If you had to choose between eating nutritiously inferior foods with delight or a perfect diet that became an eating disorder, I would encourage you to eat with delight. But this is NOT the choice you have to make.

We are contending that your taste buds are broken, and your body is desensitized by the food that you have been eating. During this challenge, we are giving you the opportunity to limit yourself (for a time) in order to rid yourself of cravings and bad habits in order to better understand your body and be MORE FREE to make food choices after this challenge is over.

Everything in moderation is a great mantra, but it is meaningless if you’re not even sure what a moderate amount of sugar is for your body. This challenge is an opportunity for you to reset your body, and learn about yourself.

2.    Are you sure this diet is even healthy?

One major roadblock people face when considering making a drastic lifestyle change is the conflicting advice about what’s healthy. Eggs will kill you. Eggs are nutritious. Don’t eat saturated fat. Eat more saturated fat. Dairy is healthy. Dairy is poison.  Why should I make the effort to eat healthy when the experts are wildly conflicted about what healthy even is?

The very best part of a nutrition challenge like this is that when you strictly adhere to the guidelines, you are essentially putting yourself on an elimination diet. The purpose of an elimination diet is to figure out how your body responds to the foods that have been eliminated, so you can learn what is healthy for YOUR body.

3.    How can this be a nutrition challenge if I’m not weighing and measuring my portion sizes.

So, here’s the thing; yes calories matter, but you might not need to be counting them. Once again, part of healthy eating is being able to eat with a healthy mindset. A lot of people who are mindful of healthy eating make two mistakes:1) they eat with a cloud of stress hanging over them and 2) they eat too little. Your body needs nourishment. You need to eat food. Depriving your body of nourishment isn’t healthy. It’s dumb.

 These are basically candy.

These are basically candy.

Maybe you’ll finish this challenge and find that you still need to weigh and measure your food in order to keep your eating habits under control. That’s okay. If you’ve already established a way to manage portion sized that is working for you, great! But for now, see what happens when you are eating nutrient dense foods that are naturally satiating.

The more you eat a steak, the more full you become. It is very hard to chug full fat coconut milk. It is not likely that you will eat too much broccoli. These foods, even if prepared in the most delicious ways fill you up the more you eat them.

On the other hand, the more I eat Oreos, the more I want Oreos. Even if I’m not hungry and don’t even want any, I will eat an entire bowl of popcorn if it’s in front of me while I’m watching a movie.  Lay’s slogan is, “Bet You Can’t Eat Just One” for a reason. These foods are what Melissa and Dallas Hartwig in my favorite book on healthy eating, It Starts With Food, call “food without breaks.”

Of course, there are clever ways of combining foods too make them easily over consumed (bacon wrapped around dates, coconut milk mixed with a bunch of fruit), but if it’s possible to be able eat food without the stress of weighing and measuring you might as well give it a chance.

 Juggling Kettlebells is hard

Juggling Kettlebells is hard

4.    This is too hard.

For this question, I want to go ahead and quote the Hartwigs’ once again, because it’s what I hear in my head when I’m feeling crabby about restricting  my food choices:

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. […I]t’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

So if you haven’t done so already, take ownership of this challenge and make changes for yourself, your freedom and your health.