Nutrition can be a confusing topic, and one that leaves many health-conscious adults with more questions than answers. As one of the 4 essential pillars of the EXOS approach to total health, nutrition influences the human body’s ability to perform in many ways. Whether you’re most concerned about optimizing workouts, mental health, immune system, or sleep, what you eat can either work in your favor or keep you from reaching your goals.
Here are five steps to help guide your journey to better health through improved nutrition.
Know your starting point
An honest inventory of your current nutrition habits within the context of your lifestyle is essential for setting smaller goals that are attainable and will have the most impact in your total health. Keeping a food journal is a great way to get started. Are you drinking enough water? How balanced are your meals? Those are questions that journaling just a few meals can help you answer.
Learn what your body needs
Eating a balanced diet can provide many essential vitamins and nutrients that support total health and boost brain function and mood. Supplements can fill gaps, but they won’t make up for a lack of food variety or a diet filled with processed foods. What your body needs is dependent upon your gender, age, existing health issues or deficiencies, and lifestyle.
Create a plan that works for you
Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. Your success will depend heavily on your ability to manage stress, sleep, and maintain a healthy balance. Set small goals based on your current diet and lifestyle and what your body needs most, and you’ll notice that it’s easier to make sustainable changes that help you feel and perform better.
Set specific goals with deadlines
If your goal is simply to “drink more water,” you may find that it’s difficult to stick with it unless you get more specific. If you set a goal to drink 1.5 ounces of water per pound of body weight for 30 days to establish a healthy hydration habit, that’s an actionable and measurable goal. You’ll be better able to measure your progress, adjust your water intake as needed, and change the way you drink water to better support your lifestyle. Every nutrition goal you set needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Keeping a food journal or enlisting the help of a friend are two ways you can keep yourself accountable to the nutrition goals you’ve set. We all struggle with distractions and stresses that can throw us off track, but staying committed to your healthy habits is the real secret to healthy eating success.