5 Nutrition Tips for Beginners

Written by Coach Kristen, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.

Typically when you see nutrition tips for beginners, you’ll see the following: something about getting more protein, staying hydrated, and cutting back on sugar. These tips don’t really provide much insight into habit change and don’t address one of the root issues of our nutrition, which is mindset and relationship with our food and bodies.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, here are my top tips:

  1. Eat slowly. This is one of the most underrated nutrition practices out there! In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to rush through meals without really savoring or enjoying them. Mindful eating involves slowing down, engaging your senses, and being fully present during meals. Take the time to appreciate the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food. Chew slowly and savor each bite. Eating mindfully not only enhances your enjoyment of food but also allows you to better recognize when you’re satisfied, preventing overeating. Pro tip: Set your utensil down in between bites to allow yourself the chance to thoroughly chew your food before taking the next bite.
  2. Plan and Prep Ahead: Take some time at the beginning of the week to plan your meals and snacks. Consider what foods you have on hand, what you’re in the mood for, and any upcoming events or activities that may affect your eating schedule. Preparing meals in advance can save time and make it easier to choose nourishing options when hunger strikes. Pro tip: Chop vegetables, wash and cut fruit, cook grains and proteins, and portion out snacks to have readily available throughout the week.
  3. Keep It Simple: There’s no need to overcomplicate meal preparation. Focus on simple and straightforward recipes that use fresh, whole ingredients. Choose recipes with minimal steps and ingredients to streamline the cooking process and reduce stress. Remember, delicious and nourishing meals don’t have to be complicated! Pro tip: Pick a carb, protein, fat, and veggie to create an easy meal. An example would be rice, cooked tofu, avocado, and roasted broccoli. Add a sauce on top, such as teriyaki or salsa, to bring the meal together.
  4. Listen to Your Cravings & Ditch Food Rules: Move away from labeling foods as “good” or “bad”. Instead of labeling certain foods as off-limits, aim for balance and variety in your diet. Intuitive eating encourages honoring your body’s cravings and desires when it comes to food. If you find yourself craving a certain dish or ingredient, embrace it! Use your cravings as inspiration for meal planning and preparation. Whether it’s a comforting bowl of soup, a hearty salad, or a decadent dessert, allow yourself to include the foods that bring you joy and satisfaction. Restriction leads to feelings of being out of control or binging, so avoiding foods you love will only backfire. Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods without guilt or shame. When you remove the restrictions and judgments surrounding food, you empower yourself to make choices that truly nourish your body. Pro tip: If you are feeling out of control around certain foods, start to include it daily! Soon the novelty will wear off and you will feel more in control around that food, leading you to choose it only when you truly want it.
  5. Look for Variety and Colors: This is a small habit that can make a big change! Incorporating a wide variety of colorful fruits + vegetables, grains, and proteins into your meals not only adds visual appeal but also ensures that you’re getting a diverse range of nutrients essential for health. Aim to include a rainbow of colors in your day, as colorful produce contains different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support various aspects of well-being. It is important to remember that variety doesn’t just mean adding colors! Unlike restrictive diets that emphasize rules and limitations, intuitive eating encourages flexibility and openness to different tastes, textures, and flavors. Variety encourages mindfulness by prompting you to pay attention to the flavors, textures, and sensations of each food. When you’re open to trying new foods and flavors, you become more present and engaged during meals. Mindful eating allows you to savor the experience of eating and tune into your body’s hunger and fullness cues, leading to more balanced and satisfying meals. Pro tip: Start by gradually introducing new foods, colors, and flavors into your meals. Pay attention to how they make you feel physically and emotionally. Listen to your body’s cues and honor your preferences, while also being open to exploring new food groups! It helps to create a game plan before heading to the grocery store so you know what to get.

Bonus tip: Being in tune with your hunger and fullness cues will allow you to navigate your nutrition choices with more confidence. Before each meal or snack, take a moment to assess your level of hunger on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely hungry and 10 being uncomfortably full. Aim to start eating when you’re at a moderate level of hunger, around a 3 or 4, and stop when you’re satisfied but not overly full, around a 6 or 7.

Midway through your meal, pause for a moment and assess how you’re feeling. Are you still hungry, or are you starting to feel satisfied? Take a few deep breaths and listen to your body’s signals. If you’re still hungry, continue eating, but if you’re starting to feel full, consider slowing down or stopping altogether. Learning to pause and check in with your body throughout the meal can help prevent overeating and promote a more satisfying eating experience.

By tuning into your hunger levels, you can better gauge when to start and stop eating. It is crucial to remember that allowing yourself to get to a level 1-2 hunger level can lead you to feeling out of control around your food.

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