by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Last night as I was wrapping up a training session, my client randomly asked “how do you eat so perfect all the time?”. I started to laugh but stopped myself realizing she was serious. She followed up with “I mean don’t you ever just want to eat chocolate?”. My response, “why yes I do, in fact I eat chocolate everyday!”. *gasp!!* Yes I have a confession…I often practice imperfect eating. Often intentionally!
I personally eat anything but perfectly clean. What is perfect eating anyway?? I absolutely believe that nutrition, diet & food preferences are so individual. It’s why I’m not a fan of cookie cutter meal plans. One size does not fit all! While there are lots of commonalities I believe every person should use as a nutritious base, the question is who are you & what are your goals!
So I thought I’d get personal & show a few of my “less than perfect foods” I include in MY diet. And more importantly how they fit in the bigger picture of my total intake, mindset & goals.
My top 5 foods I include almost weekly:
1. Wine: I LOVE wine. A juicy glass of cab is better to me than a slice of cake or any other food. No I don’t mean I down bottles at a time but I do include a few glasses every weekend. But I skip Sunday-Thursday. Balance!
2. Quest Bars: yep these are prepackaged processed protein bars. They do have one of the shortest ingredients list for a high protein bar that i’ve seen but I don’t lie to myself about them. They are a sweet treat that’s not as nutrient dense as many other options. But they make me happy, satisfy my sweet tooth & keep me from overdoing other desserts. For where I am now, they can fit within my diet while not negatively affecting my progress. So they’re an often daily staple.
3. Skippy’s PB: this “natural” peanut butter is not the best choice available. I typically recommend ingredients that are simply peanuts + salt. This has evaporated cane syrup & a few other added sweeteners. Perfect? Nope! But it reminds me of my childhood & tastes SO much better then the organic version. I eat 1tbsp, 1-2x a week without guilt.
4. Dark Chocolate PB Cups: Obviously i’m a peanut butter lover. While candy has never been a big temptation, I do love Reese’s. Then I found these trader joes dark chocolate version & fell in love. They live in my fridge & when I really have a hankering, I eat 1! They’re not off limits & always available so I don’t fear never having them again. Once a week or less I grab 1 & enjoy every bite!
5. Pumpkin O’s: I’ve never had a great relationship with cereal in all honesty. It’s a food I have struggled with totally overdoing & finding myself staring into the bottom of a box I just opened. It can be a cycle of overeating & guilt that I know is a trigger. So I don’t eat cereal frequently. Plus I have a gluten sensitivity so I avoid for the sake of my for my digestion. But I found these gluten free pumpkin o’s & fell in love. I don’t want to fear cereal so it’s there lurking in the back of my cabinet. Bc it’s not off limits but also not the first thing I see. In fact I usually forget it’s there until it’s gone stale. Which I’m not eating. Yet when I want it on top of a cold yogurt banana bowl I pull that box out, sprinkle a handful on top & stash it in the back of the pantry. Once a week or so I might remember to eat it if the craving hits!
Now a few things to point out. These foods make up maybe 10% of my TOTAL intake on a weekly basis. The rest of my meals are filled with tons of eggs, vegetables, fruit & meat! I make sure my daily must haves of water, a big ass salad & every meal based around a solid protein source are met first. Then I sprinkle these extras around where desired. Like the icing on the cake 😉
Another important individual factor I consider when including more or less of my “imperfect foods” is my goals. I am NOT trying to lose fat or make major physique changes at the moment. I know SHOCKING right? A woman who’s goal isn’t to get skinnier! But that’s not where i’m at currently, I’m in maintenance mode. IF I was trying to make body composition changes, I would reevaluate my intake of some of these foods. You can’t have it all, all the time.
That’s a BIG reason why you shouldn’t compare your plate to others. When people ask what I eat every day I preface it with this is how I eat for:
~ my activity = workouts & active job
~ my goals = maintenance mode
~ what i can stick to = completely individual
I also pay attention to my body. Often when I include too many foods lacking in nutrient density I find I’m not feeling my best. If my hunger &/or cravings for these foods start to drastically increase, it may be time to scale back or take a break. If my energy drops or digestion gets wonky, that’s a sign I need to focus on foods that nourish me more. I’m losing strength in the gym or mental focus on work? Time to reassess. It’s not punishment or deprivation & those foods will still be there.
This is a big aspect of how I work through balanced eating with my nutrition coaching clients. It takes time, experimentation, education & uncovering what your REAL goals are beyond the scale. As often, I have personally realized I wasn’t willing to or at a place where the sacrifice to change was worth the outcome. Which was actually a relief to recognize & stop beating myself up over failing to reach a goal I didn’t really want!
Nutrition & fitness SHOULD enhance your life. If that’s something your still struggling with message me about my personalized nutrition coaching. You are not your diet, your weight or pants size & you CAN find a way to make it all contribute to being the best YOU! firstname.lastname@example.org