Eating healthy is only a matter of habits, most of which are about organization. In this post I’ll dive into how you can ENJOY your food while reaching your goals, whether it’s losing weight or bulking up.
1.Set your healthy/not-so-healhty ratio
This simply refers to the amount of time you will be eating healthy vs the amount of times it wont be very healthy.
The rule of thumb is the classic 80/20. The ratio varies between individuals, goals, age and other parameters but as a rule of thumb, you never want to go below 70/30. Conversely, a ratio that's too high might not be sustainable. Unless you're a professional bodybuilder, model, actor, or other person that lives off their body image, I wouldn't recommend going over 90/10 ratio.
So how does that work exactly? Say you eat 5 meals a day, 7 days a week and are following the 80/20 rule. You are eating a total of 7 x 5 = 35 meals per week. 80% of that is 28, so you would have 28 delicious yet healthy meals and 7 not so healthy ones.
Does “not so healthy” mean you get to inhale a pint of ice cream, 2 pizzas and 43 oreos? Not quite. Keep in mind that according to that ratio, you can have a cheat meal once a day…that’s quite a lot. So keep your cheats small. You can indulge in a drink, a small sweet, a slice of pizza, just be moderate about it.
For those of us cutting, the 90/10 ratio is great, giving you 3-4 cheat meals per week.
You can always modify your ratio from one week to another if you see your current one isn't yielding the results wanted.
Also please note that whenever you have an alcoholic drink that meal turns in to a cheat.
2. Make your own food
Now that you know when to eat clean and when to cheat, make sure that most of the food you eat is made by you. This includes the cheats. Eating out, even if it’s a “clean” meal, counts as cheating, restaurants put way to much salt and fats in their dishes. It’s no surprise why restaurant food is always so good ;) They make sure we like it by putting all the sweet stuff in it so we come back to them!
The next few points will help you make that happen.
3. Be kitchen smart
Do you have all the accessories needed to cook healthy. Here’s a quick list of things that should be in your kitchen:
- Good knives
- pots and pans
- food processor
- slow cooker
- rice cooker
- salad spinner
- cutting board
- vegetable noodler
- herbs and spices
Once you have all of those, cooking healthy will be a lot easier.
4. Plan out your meals
I am not advocating that you write out a set-in-stone meal plan and flog yourself if you deviate from it. But have a general idea of what you are going to eat at different parts of your day.
For example, this is how I plan out my meals when I’m not in contest prep:
- breakfast: fruit smoothie or eggs or both
- elevensies: small portion of protein with fruits
- lunch: a salad with nuts and a bit more protein
- little snack: raw veggies with olive oil or avocado
- Dinner: Salad with protein and complex carbs and nuts
It is ok to eat the same thing over and over again as long as it provides you with adequate nutrients and that you don't get tired of it. I love the salads I make, I always put the same things in it: cucumber, kale, spinach, bell peppers, carrots, feta, olives, tomatoes and celery. I’ve been eating this salad, or very similar ones for over a year and still love it. Same for protein: chicken, eggs, turkey and fish, with the occasional beef.
I’ve been eating those same foods for a while and still love all of them. This also helps with the following tip.
5. Plan your grocery shopping
Once you have a general idea of what you eat every week, it becomes very easy to grocery shop efficiently. Save time and money ;)
Plan out the days that you shop, make it part of your routine. You want to keep your ingredients fresh, so a minimum of 2 grocery runs is appropriate. Sunday and Wednesday are good days to do that. You can also do them on your rest days since you wont be spending time exercising.
Once you plan those days out, have a go-to grocery list that have all the ingredients you need for that grocery run. On my first weekly grocery run I get everything from veggies and meat to complex carbs. On my second one I restock on veggies only since I still have meat and carbs. I sometimes do a 3rd run when I run out of various random ingredients.
The goal of these tips is for you to use them altogether. Doing only one or two is great start but it won’t cut if for the long run. Eating clean IS easy, if you set yourself up for it. Yea you might have to change a few habits, but think long term :)
Clem Fitness is a personal training service based out of Vancouver. Our area of expertise is muscle definition, healthy weight loss and teaching how to live a healthy and happy life.