Google Searches around Nutrition Worldwide the last 10 years
Source: Google Trends
The above is a telling example of how nutrition plays out in people’s lives.
It goes out the window in Christmas to a big interest in January.
However by February and March – the interest nearly always plateaus.
January – New Year, new me.
March – interest beings to wane
April – September: It’s on maintenance mode
October-December: Nutrition becomes less and less important.
But what causes this trend?
There is something very appealing about a new slate.
It’s fresh. It’s a novelty.
It gives us the chance to close the door on a mundane (or chaotic) time period and to start again.
January 1st has a similar ring to a Monday morning. We want to put behind what’s happened last week or last year and start again. We tell ourselves that this is the year that I am going to get my diet in order…
Spring arrives and your words from January 1st are a distant memory. Whatever plan you had in place has withered away.
So how can you keep a balance with your nutrition all year round?
1. Know your ‘Why’
Without knowing the ‘why’ behind the changes you want to make, the first bit of resistance you get will knock you over like pins to a bowling ball. When you have a clear ‘why’ in mind then you know that even when you do get knocked down, you know that you are getting back up for a reason.
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
2. Set goals (Short, medium & long-term)
By having goals set throughout the year you are keeping yourself on your toes. Achieving the short-term goals can be a springboard to achieving your medium-term goal and long-term goals.
When setting goals, try and make them S.M.A.R.T (See blog for more on this).
3. Avoid fad diets
While ‘quick’ fixes might be be the attractive option, they often only bring about short-term results. They are often very restrictive and unsustainable in the long-term. It’s like seeing a really nice pair of shoes that you really want to buy. The only issue is that they won’t fit you. You decide to buy them even though you are crippling your feet. After ‘x’ amount of time you call it a day and stop wearing those shoes.
When you undertake some form of restrictive diet*, you are dragging yourself over the line each day as you deprive yourself of some of your favourite foods. After a day, a week or some relatively short period of time you decide to throw in the towel on this diet as the sacrifice is just not worth it annnnnd you are back to square one….or worse for some people (1/3 – 2/3 of people who regain weight will add back more weight than they originally lost).
4. Find a sustainable system that works for YOU
Ok, so if the fad diets aren’t a long-term solution, then what is? Finding yourself a sustainable system that works around your own lifestyle is key.
Oxford dictionary defines ‘Sustainable‘ as ‘able to be maintained at a certain rate or level’. So, the question to ask yourself is this, what changes can I make now that I will be able to maintain in a year or 5 years from now?
If you’ve asked yourself ‘Can I perform ‘x’ habit for the next 5 years?’ and your answer is ‘No’ then it might be a good idea to rethink the change(s) that you intend on making.**
While it can be very tempting to change a whole list of habits all at once, by doing so you may be trying to force a square peg into a round whole as you already have a current routine in place which is not going to budge that easy. Instead, by making small, incremental changes each week you are slowly adding to your routine and thus it becomes more sustainable.
This might look like focusing on 1-3 new habits each week that are tailored to support your goal.
For example: Drink 2L of water each day or increase protein intake at breakfast by adding in_______.
Small, incremental changes do add up over time. Brick by brick your house will be built.
5. Discipline = Freedom
Now, for some people, they might rank this as their number one priority. Sure, you can try and run through a brick wall to achieve your goals but by having the above in place first, you can make the process a lot easier on yourself and it will be like running through plaster board instead of bricks.
Don’t get me wrong, you will face resistance as you set about to achieve your goals and when this does happen you will have to dig deep.
There will be times where you will prefer to watch an extra episode on Netflix instead of prepping a few meals for the week or mornings where it’s cold outside and you would prefer to stay in bed instead of facing the elements and getting what you need to get done but you can make it easier on yourself by taking the right approach. Also, thanks to neuroplasticity, you will be able to overcome these challenges with less resistance the more you practice them.
Final Words on All Year Round Nutrition..
If you want to keep on top of your nutrition all year round then forget the fad diets. Know your ‘why’ and make sure it carries a lot of significance for you. Have goals set (short, medium and long-term) and have a sustainable system in place that supports those goals. There will be times where you will face some resistance and so be prepared to dig deep during these occasions.
*Restrictive diets may be necessary in some instances. For example, someone with digestive issues may benefit from doing a Low FODMAP diet.
**There will be times during the year (for example, summer holidays, Christmas) where there are significant changes to your routine and to your environment. As a result you might eat a bit more than you would usually have and there might be foods available that usually wouldn’t be there (and that’s ok).
However, that does not mean ditching the system that you have in place completely. By having some non-negotiables established, you can still enjoy your time whilst keeping a balance on your nutrition. (If you are considering a nutritionist, I am here to help.)