Eat Like An Adult!
“Honestly, seriously, you don’t know what to do about food? Here is an idea: Eat like anadult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid’s cereal, knock it off with all the sweets andcomfort foods whenever your favorite show is not on when you want it on, ease up onthe snacking and— don’t act like you don’t know this— eat vegetables and fruits more.Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like anadult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.” – Dan John
The amount of information published daily on nutrition and different dietary options can make eating healthy feel like a daunting task. The number of choices is overwhelming, and oftentimes conflicting in their prescriptions. How do we sort through the noise and find an effective approach to eating that is both nourishing and sustainable? Here’s a starting point, in the words of Dan John: Eat like an adult!
What does eating like an adult look like you ask? Meat and seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some starch, little to no sugar. Foods from these categories should make up the bulk of your meals throughout the week, in whatever combinations and quantities you prefer. While we have unlimited options and the autonomy to eat whatever we please, it’s important that we have the discipline to not do just that. We need to establish our own personal “diet” that meets our needs and goals. Diet in this case does not refer to the modern connotation of a trendy short term plan/cleanse/detox that will help you “get ripped in 30 days”, which works wonders until the moment you stop doing it. Instead, we’re referring to the actual root of the word, which means “way of living.” If your “diet” is simply a series of unrelated short term solutions, it’s inherently not a diet. What we need instead is a logical framework that can be used as a lens through which we can evaluate food choices to better determine whether or not they align with our principles, and make decisions from there.
Let’s take a look at breakfast for example. Do you consistently eat it? If so, what do you typically eat? If your breakfast involves cereal or some other product whose spokesperson is a cartoon character or target consumer audience is a 6 year old, we’ve got some room for improvement. If you regularly rush out the door and skip breakfast or grab something convenient en route, the same goes for you. Breakfast doesn’t need to be time consuming nor complicated to make, and in many case can be prepared the night before and simple reheated or taken to go in the morning. Think protein shakes, overnight oats, leftovers, etc. However, when we start the day with sugary cereal, a bagel, etc., we’re putting ourselves at an immediate disadvantage. Good blood sugar maintenance (specifically not constantly spiking it) is a marker for both long term health, and short term wellness. When we eat foods that are satiating (protein, fat, low GI carbs), we tend to stay comfortably full longer and more easily avoid the pitfalls of snacking that often result from rapid blood sugar drops and the resultant food cravings for quick calories. Additionally, what we eat either empowers of hinders our performance in the gym. Viewing food as fuel can be a helpful filter to prioritize various food choices, namely asking ourselves if a particular item will positively or negatively effect the quality of our workout that day. Fortunately, there is significant overlap in food choices and decision making whether we are eating for better body composition, general wellness, or improved performance.
When we regularly eat sugar or refined grains to start the day, the cumulative effects of these choices will very likely be reflected in both our cognitive and physical energy levels as well as our waistbands. Instead, let’s strive to regularly fuel up in the morning with protein, fat, and carbs from convenient and enjoyable sources so that we can thrive daily in all areas that matter.