Does nutrition need to be complicated?

I'm often asked by well meaning friends, family and or clients for a "nutrition plan." The conversation goes something like this:

Client: Man, I need to eat better. Would you write me a diet plan?

Me: Yeah, I can do that......but

Here's the but - I can write someone a nutrition plan (I hate the word diet)...But is it really necessary? Assuming I'm communicating with an adult, I truly believe that we all intuitively know what is good for us and what isn't. Right? For example, if you were asked, "is steamed broccoli better for you than cheesy tator tots (despite being insanely delicious)?"



For most of us that answer would be relatively easy. We were all told as kids by our parents, grandparents, friends parents, and just about every well meaning adult to eat our vegetables. Turns out, they were telling the truth! If you grew up in the late 70's or 80's chances are most of your "snacks" were fresh fruit...not fruit roll ups. 

The point is this, most of us already know that we should eat lean meat, vegetables, and fruit. Now, maybe in what quantities and at what times of the day could still be a mystery, but that's minutiae in my opinion. Getting back to my original analogy, I think the reason people ask for a nutrition plan is because they want a stimulus for change. It's very akin to someone being more motivated to train when they have a plan. 

side note: if you are reading this, you workout, and you don't have a qualified someone writing your should! 

To me,  "change stimulus" taken a step forward is also known as habit change - and that is where the gold is at. While I contend that we all intuitively understand how to eat, we are all not equally in the HABIT of eating well. 

There are some outstanding coaches such as Georgie Fear and Josh Hillis changing people's lives through creating positive and consistent habit change. People probably consider them nutrition coaches because the majority of their conversations live in and around the topic of nutrition. However, their true value comes in that they help clients establish a set of healthy habits in a way that is non threatening and for lack of a better term...doable. 

I shutter when I see (and hear) well meaning trainers take an overweight client and completely overhaul their entire nutritional approach overnight. Not gonna happen! They did not become overweight overnight. Chances are they have been making decisions that are counterproductive to their health for a longtime. The point is, someone eating four candy bars and three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches per day will probably fair miserably if you try restrict them to grilled chicken and vegetables on day 2 (despite that being better for them). 

Long term nutritional success (and just about everything else on this planet) requires consistency. Consistency happens with small sustainable habits changed over time. The following is a link to an article by Brad Dieter of Science Driven Nutrition (love that name). Brad breaks down his top priorities for long term nutritional success into four points. It's point #1 that I feel is most important. Hint: he refers to habit change -he calls it personal change.

Take home message: Nutrition isn't complicated. Personal change can be. But it's paramount for long term sustainable change. 

Give it a read. Hope you enjoy it and this blog.