This month’s Editor’s Challenge comes with support for changes that many of us need to make to our nourishment in order to move toward our goals.
How we nourish ourselves determines our energy and our vitality. Nutrition is a critical part of a fit and healthy lifestyle. When combined with daily movement, workouts and increased physical activity, nutrition helps us reach and maintain a healthy weight, increase our muscle mass and body composition, reduce risk of chronic diseases (like diabetes, heart disease and cancer) and generally foster overall health.
But it’s not just what you eat that’s important. It’s also when you eat, how you eat and why you eat that all contribute to the overall state of nourishment. Making changes begins with two critical habits.
Making change requires understanding the current state of affairs. This is particularly true in crafting a healthy approach to eating and a plan. We measure our food portions and calories—but the real key is to use measurement to build awareness and understanding that can lead to lasting behavioral change. Are you aware of what and how much you consume each day, why and what the environmental triggers are?
For 30 days, become a data scientist and record everything that you eat, the time and the place, and your emotional or mental state. You don’t need a fancy journal unless you want one. You can even record this information in your notes app on your phone or computer, whatever works. Just make it a rule that anything that goes in your mouth gets written down, no exceptions. Don’t change your diet or behavior—just record it for now. A sample record could look like this:
Date & Time:
Location & Activity:
- At-home office while reading emails
What & How Much:
- 2 cups of coffee with cream
- Small bowl of yogurt and granola with honey and berries
- Feeling tired and nervous for the day of work ahead
Be consistent and be specific.
The next step is to begin to understand the impact that your nutrition has on your physiology and well-being.
One tool that Paul Chek trained me to use—which I also use with my holistic life coaching clients—is the tachometer diagram. A tachometer diagram helps you understand how the food you’ve just eaten is affecting your body. It helps you understand what happens when you eat too many carbs versus too many fats and proteins, and it enables you to refine your personalized approach to food.
It works like this: Draw a tachometer dial turned sideways. Create a scale of 1 to 8, ranging from feeling lethargic, sleepy, depressed and craving sweets and caffeine to feeling full but still feeling hungry, all the way up to feeling satisfied but then quickly hungry again and craving sweets, caffeine or other stimulants.
Fifteen minutes before eating, reference the chart to better understand how you feel after eating. Just take note and refer to the tachometer diagram for much more information on how to use this new, profound and empirical result. (Even more information can be found in Paul Chek’s book “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy” (C.H.E.K Institute, February 2004).)
Record how you feel after eating as part of your daily food log, and you’ll begin to see patterns emerge and actions you can take that will have lasting effects. You deserve to feel great, energetic and willing to greet the day and all its challenges. You matter, and so does what you eat.
Photo Credits: UberImages, Thinkstock; Cynthia Magana, Unsplash; Astarot, Thinkstock; Abbie Dyer, Unsplash; Courtesy Paul Chekx.