At TNE we follow the concept emerging in the world of professional sport called ‘human first’ which highlights how athletes must first be healthy to achieve their performance potential.
In practice this means that elite coaches are prioritising nutrition, sleep and stress management above all else. This revolution is a move away from the ‘shiny object syndrome’ and a re-emphasis on the evidence based fundamentals as a foundation.
BUT this is something that is true for all of us, not just those playing at a world class level. If you want:
- More energy to enjoy time with your family
- To hit a PB run time or lift in the gym
- Better mental clarity and increased productivity
- To just wake up feeling good each day
Then you’ve got to prioritise your health before anything else because if you don’t have a foundation of good health you are going to be fighting a constant struggle. Everyone thinks the latest fitness trend or new ‘superfood’ will take them to the next level but 90% of the time it won’t, the basics will.
With that in mind we put heavy emphasis on the fundamentals not the fads, the importance of consistency not extreme effort, and the value of patience not rapid transformation.
While I was still serving in the military ‘fundamental skills’ were core to being a Special Forces soldier: it wasn’t about advanced skills in weapons or tactics, it was about being very good at basic soldiering skills such as maintaining operational effectiveness in harsh environments.
In order to unlock your potential, in every area of life, you need to be a healthy person first. And aside actions like reducing stress (regulating screen time, meditation, exercise, exposure to nature), and prioritising, good nutrition is key.
Where To Go From Here
But this can be tough, so here are 6 tactics that you can employ to help eat better on a day to day basis.
What You Eat
When it comes to what you eat we could debate the pros and cons of different diets all day long but pretty much this is the crux of it:
Rule 1 – Eat mostly real food.
Rule 2 – Be aware of your calorie intake and adjust accordingly.
Rule 3 – Do this on a consistent basis.
This solution will get you 90% of the way towards great health and a good physique.
Rule 4 – The right training.
And you’ll be 99% of the way there.
The problem is that things like “reality” and “human behavior” keep getting in the way.
So here are 6 tactics for you to use to help improve the quality of your diet.
6 Tactics For Better Nutrition
In reality there are lots of ways to achieve this but these are the six that I’ve found to be the most effective.
1. Consistency Not Perfection
This is absolutely vital! It’s true that consistency is essential for success, but you do not have to be flawlessly consistent. When you’re trying to eat well, it’s easy to convince yourself that if you don’t eat perfectly, then you’ve failed.
But consistency does not require perfection.
We are all human beings which means we need a safety margin for errors, mistakes, and emergencies. Instead it is all about average speed, not maximum speed. No journey is a straight line, there will always be detours and diversions.
But if you maintain a good average speed, you’ll always make it to your destination despite the stops and delays along the way.
2. Core Go-To Meals
Often the reason we eat poor quality food is because it is quick and easy and so we default to those options when time is short or we are tired or just feeling lazy. Having some go to easy meals that are simple for you to make and that you love to eat is a simple way to make it more likely to eat a more nutritious option. For example, some go to meals that our community members have said they use include:
- Mashed avocado on toasted sourdough with a poached egg.
- Lentil bolognese
- Butternut squash curry
- Crispy skin baked potato (which is easy to achieve by rubbing olive oil and salt onto the skin before cooking) with your choice of protein and a big salad.
Whatever you choose the recipe should be something that requires minimal time and energy. So either it takes 10-15 minutes to make the entire meal like the avocado on sourdough. Or the preparation only takes that amount of time, like the lentil bolognese…bang it all in a pot and leave it!
3. Get The Basics Right
As always the fundamentals are crucial and the following are the 3 steps you will want to master.
A. Food Shopping 101
- Write a list before you go, and stick to it!
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry, EVER!
B. Learn To Cook
- Time spent on learning how to cook is one of the best investments you can make.
- Reframe how you see it, not as a chore but a skill which enhances your life.
- I am no chef but being able to make simple meals has been a key piece of the puzzle in terms of health throughout my life.
- Choose a few easy recipes to get you started and give it a go.
- Using a slow cooker is a great ‘cheat’ option here. An incredibly simple way to make delicious and nourishing meals.
C. Batch Prep
- This isn’t essential but can be helpful and I personally recommend it.
- Dishes such as stews, curries or bolognese are perfect for this.
- Simply make double the portion you need and freeze it for healthy meals always on standby.
- The slow cooker is also great for this.
4. Design Your Environment
One of the best and easiest ways to eat better is by making it convenient to eat well and hard to eat badly. Essentially keep unhealthy food out of the home. Just don’t buy it, because if it’s there you’ll eat it.
If you really really want it then you might make the effort to drive to the shops , but I doubt you’ll do this every time. If this is a step too far then begin by reducing the amount you have
in the house. Perhaps have a weekly allowance that is kept in one place in the house and once it is gone is not replaced until the following week.
When it comes to cravings you can use two simple strategies to help combat them.
A. Stop, Drink, Wait
- Set a timer for 10 mins on your phone.
- Drink some water.
- Often the craving will pass but if you still ‘really’ want something then your next option is the craving scale.
B. Scale It Down
- This is simply a way of trying to sate the craving by choosing a better option.
- For example, if you want something sweet then start with a piece of fruit.
- If this doesn’t work try dried fruit or dark chocolate.
- Only default to the chocolate bar as a last resort after trying other options first.
One thing to bear in mind is that our cravings or need for certain foods are not set in stone and can be changed. We naturally tend to think that our mind is the controlling driver over what and when we eat. But there is a strong argument that the human gut microbiota is a key regulator of appetite.
Essentially there’s a positive feedback loop:
Your microbiota is influenced by what you eat: Your microbiota influences what you crave/eat.
The microbes that occupy the long tube that runs through your body depend on you – the human host – to provide them with energy. Whether or not a specific gut microbe is able to survive and reproduce in your gut is largely determined by what types of foods you’re eating.
Some gut microbes do well on a meat-heavy, fat-rich diet, others thrive if you eat a lot of refined sugar, and yet others do their best work if you take in a lot of fiber.
Your dietary choices produce a positive feedback loop. For example, if you eat a lot of sugary, processed foods, “sugar-loving” microbes will proliferate in your mouth and intestine, whereas microbes that don’t do so well in the sugar-rich environment will die off.
Due to their expanding numbers, the “sugar-loving” microbes will attain greater control over your appetite and eating behavior and will cause you to crave more sugary, processed food, because that’s the type of food that’s optimal in terms of their survival and reproduction.
And vice versa, when you have microbes that are thriving on foods that are beneficial to the body this is what you will be craving. This is not going to change overnight but it should give you hope that you can get to a point where you have cravings for processed foods far less than you currently might do.
By making small changes each day, over time you can reach a point where choosing the foods that are better for us will be so much easier because you’re not battling your microbes.
6. Be Patient
Learning to be patient is perhaps the most critical skill of all. You can make incredible progress if you are consistent and patient.
Patience is everything.
Success and attention to fundamentals usually go hand in hand in life, and a good foundation is critical to accomplishing your goals.
For example, if you do not grasp the basics of chess you are never going to have the foundation needed to support the finer nuances of the game. If you do not understand algebra you will never be able to master calculus.
While getting lost in the details can often be easy, mastering the basics first will give you a much better chance of winning in the long-run. The same applies to health. As a society we have lost sight of the fundamental actions that sit at the core of great health: Quality sleep, nutritious and un-processed food, and regular movement.
These tactics are nothing sexy or spectacular but they are effective. Gradually implementing these type of actions into your life are the best way to secure long term successful results.
The Limitless Challenge
Stressproof Your Mind And Body For Bulletproof Focus, Resilience & Mental Calm In Just 30 Days.
We are running a 30 day challenge to:
- Eliminate chronic stress
- Unlock your mental toughness
- Optimise long-term health
- Build confidence and self-reliance
- Enhance your ability to thrive