Tuesday 18 June 2013

Week 25 Nutrition Habit: The 1-2 Hour Test

Is this you after lunch?
If so, you need to eat a different lunch
The more I learn about nutrition, teach nutrition, coach clients and athletes with their nutrition and follow my own nutrition plans, the more I'm convinced that nutrition is very, very individual. What works for one person may be totally inappropriate for someone else. As we continue in our series of 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You, I want to occasionally take a break from general nutrition habits and focus on habits that will help you individualize your nutrition. A great, simple one to start with is the 1-2 hour test.

This week's habit is simple, but very effective at helping you determine the best foods, portions and combinations for you.

Starting this week, after each meal, pay attention to how you feel for the next 1-2 hours. Here are some things you should consider:
  • Do have heart burn?
  • Do you have acid reflux?
  • Do you have gas?
  • Do you feel bloated?
  • Do you have GI distress?
  • Do you feel lethargic? (note: this is not always bad. For example, if have had a hard day of work/school and training and your evening meal makes you feel sleepy - that can improve your sleep quality). However, if you often feel the need for coffee, energy drinks or other stimulants between meals during the day, this is an indication that you are not eating properly.
  • Do you feel good, healthy, comfortable and energetic?
  • Is there anything else (good or bad) that you noticed after eating that meal?
After answering those questions, consider the following:

What you ate at that meal: 
Sometimes you may have eaten something really nasty (e.g. hot dog) and that gross feeling is a good reminder to avoid that food in the future. Other times, you may have eaten a food that is generally considered a good food and yet you don't feel so good after eating it. If this is happening, make a note of this, wait a while and then check it out again. If the same thing continually happens, it may indicate that while this is generally considered a good food, it may not be a good food for you.  

How much you ate: 
Sometimes you may eat something that is generally considered healthy and something that is not problematic for you, but you simply eat the wrong amount. For example, if you consume too many carbohydrates (for you) at breakfast, you will feel sleepy during the morning.

How you prepared it:

Sometimes you can eat the right food, in the right amount, but in a way that does not agree with your body. For example, I love broccoli (well as much as you can "love" any green vegetable) and I eat a lot of it. However, I do not eat raw broccoli because I have found it irritates my GI tract. However, after steaming that broccoli, I'm good to go!

What you ate it with:
Sometimes you will eat the right foods for you in the right amounts, cooked the right way, but in the wrong combination with other foods. For example, I can handle a small amount of sprouted grain toast with eggs or with a protein shake. However, I cannot eat it with meat without it giving me problems.

Individual differences:
As you might have gathered from my examples, my body is quite sensitive to what I eat. When I eat right for me, I feel great and have high energy. However, I'm very sensitive to certain foods and combinations and feel like garbage when I deviate from my meal plan. You might be totally different and seem to always feel good - in which case, I'm jealous. However, if you seem to be eating well and still not feeling good, this simple test can help you find what works best for you.

The Application: This Week's Habit
This week, don't make any drastic changes to your nutrition. However, start consciously reflecting on how you feel after each meal and look for patterns and connections between what you ate and how you felt. If you wanted to go more hard core, you could make this into an even more accurate and detailed habit by keeping a food journal (on your phone or with a pen and paper) of what you ate and approx how much and then after 1-2 hours, give yourself a rating of how you feel on a scale of 1-10. This will greatly increase the accuracy and speed at which you learn what works well for you.

In case you have missed any of the previous habits in this series, check out the links below:
Week 24: Farm Markets
Week 23: Restuarant Guide 
Week 22: Eat Natural

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