Improving nutrition can look daunting and overwhelming if we try to tackle everything at once. There is a lot to think about: Am I getting adequate protein? Is my breakfast balanced? Do I eat enough vegetables? Am I eating the right portion sizes? Breaking down these individual questions and determining our nutrition priorities can help make behaviour change much more manageable. Taking things one step at a time will also provide better long-term success.
Sometimes it is necessary to go slow to go fast. It is very tempting to tackle all your goals all at once in search of quick results. Behaviour change is hard, and if we change too many things all at once, we can set ourselves up for burnout. We see much greater success with our clients when we set a few small goals and gradually work down the list one goal at a time.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine your nutrition priorities:
- What are your goals?
Your steps to improve nutrition may be vastly different depending on your overall goals. Your goals could be about your body composition (lose weight, gain muscle, lose fat, maintain weight), meal planning or prepping, increasing your energy levels, or reducing your risk for chronic disease.
Take a second, reflect on what you want to improve on, and write these down.
- Do you have any underlying health conditions?
Many medical conditions have a nutrition component. For example, if you have diabetes, prioritizing portion control and carbohydrate intake may be important for you to consider. If you have celiac disease, finding ways to include high-fibre gluten-free grains may be high on your priority list.
- What areas need to improve?
Not all areas of your current routine need to change. We recommend taking a few days to reflect and journal on your current behaviours, successes, and struggles to help identify which areas of your life most affect your wellness. This will give you objective data to analyze. For example, maybe you realize that your breakfasts are already balanced and you seem to get cravings every day around 2-3 p.m. In this instance, your breakfast wouldn’t be the highest priority, but tackling the daily cravings may be number 1 on your list. Analyze your data and pick one area you are struggling with: set a goal around this struggle. Continue to repeat this process with each new goal you want to set.
- What about treats?
Treats are an important part to consider with any nutrition plan as they help make plans long-term sustainable. Treats can be different for everybody; maybe you love ice cream, pizza, or flavoured lattes. The number of treats you include is entirely up to you and your health goals. However, the number of treats you include should still help you achieve your goals. You may need to take some time to reflect on what this means for you. My Viva Plan members have a great worksheet to help you work through this!
The bottom line is that behaviour change is challenging and uncomfortable, but if we take things slowly by determining our priorities and setting small goals, we will be more likely to succeed long term.
If you would like additional support in determining your nutrition priorities, consider booking a session with a registered dietitian or try the healthy eating wellness journey when you join My Viva Plan!