Week 1: Serving Sizes & Adjusting Types and Amounts of Food
Week 1 Activity (Click To Download)
Each week of this challenge, we are going to dive into a topic about nutrition and mindset to help you feel informed about what you are eating while breaking free of any past dieting mentality or behaviors that may be negatively impacting you.
As you dive into all three of the Fit Nutrition books, you’ll see that creating a healthy lifestyle is about more than just choosing nutritious foods. Having a healthy mindset is essential for making nutritious choices consistently.
People often feel like they are stuck on a hamster wheel of dieting. It can feel exhausting and never-ending. It’s no wonder that people often feel like they fail diet after diet. They are simply unsustainable. Let me tell you this… You didn’t fail those diets. Those diets failed you.
Fit Nutrition is different because it provides some gentle frameworks for food choices to help you feel informed and work toward your goals, but it’s also based on the principle that you don’t have to cut out any foods.
Some foods you will choose more often than others, but the concept allows you to enjoy any food in moderation, which will help it actually be sustainable to get results, keep them, and be happy in the process.
The Quick Start Guide provides a simple outline to create your flexible plan and book two, The Plan, will provide an in-depth outline for you to use as a starting point. The ultimate goal of these books is to help you become informed and empowered by your nutrition. You will be able to be both mindful and intuitive about your food choices so you can take these gentle frameworks and make them your own based on what works best and feels best for you.
That is a crucial point to internalize not only for this challenge, but for the rest of your life, so I will say it again. You can use these gentle, flexible frameworks and make them your own based on what works best and feels best for you.
There are several options for these flexible frameworks, but keep in mind that this is simply a starting point for you.
This isn’t about “doing it perfectly right or doing it wrong.” It’s about allowing yourself the flexibility to feel the difference and make adjustments according to the feedback your body is giving you. This takes practice, but we will go through every step of this together, so by the end of the challenge, you will feel like you are emerging into a new life of freedom that you didn’t know existed.
If this feels like a lot to digest, just come back to the basics. As this all marinates it will feel like second nature in no time.
The most important things to focus on in this challenge:
1) Eat a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods consistently.
2) Focus on eating when you are hungry then until you are satisfied by listening to your hunger and honoring your fullness.
Everything else will start to come together and start to click as you keep practicing. I have included a Meal and Snack Journaling page that you can use to help you become more aware of what you are eating and how you are feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally based on the food you ate. This is something I’d like you to try for at least a few days to start becoming more attune with your body. Some people find they need to use this journal for a while to really grasp the concept, while others find that they have good awareness pretty quickly.
The power isn’t in the task of completing the worksheet. The power is in the awareness that you get from paying attention to what our body is telling you.
In the Start Here: Foundation of Hunger and Fullness Guide, we learned about and started practicing how to listen to hunger and honor fullness. This is a great first step in learning how to listen to what your body needs to fuel it well.
Some common questions that people have when beginning this process is, “So, I am starting to learn how to listen to hunger and fullness, but what foods should I be eating to reach my goals? What should I be eating to be healthy? How do I know when it’s ok to enjoy a more flexible meal or a treat?”
These are fair questions, and if we go back to a few paragraphs ago, this is a process that will help you with some gentle frameworks that you can adjust along the way as you start unlocking what is best for your body. The byproduct of some gentle frameworks + you truly listening to what your body needs will allow you to be fueled well, have peace of mind, and also work towards the results that you want.
That being said, let’s go over a gentle framework that can help you have an understanding how to generally balance your plate with different nutrients as we evolve what we currently know as “serving sizes.”
Watch this video for an in-depth look at the information in this next section.
Everyone is different. Everyone lives different lives. Some are more active than others. Some have higher stress levels. Some people are taller, some are shorter. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! Because of this, there is no one “right or wrong” portion size that everyone should follow.
The most important aspect of this is learning how to honor hunger and respect fullness cues. If you eat a meal and you’re still hungry, THEN EAT MORE! Hunger means your metabolism is working and you need to listen to that!
Here is a very simple guideline to help you balance your plate when choosing foods. This is not a “prescribed” amount of food. On the contrary! This is not the amount of food you should take, but rather a simple visual to help ensure you’re getting a balance of nutrients.
If you’re still hungry and you’re not sure what to get, eating more protein and veggies is always a great place to start. That being said, you want to make sure you’re eating a variety of foods.
Here is a visual that can help you create a balanced plate. On lower carb days, make sure you are getting in those fats and on higher carb day, make sure you prioritize those carbs!
Option 1: Visualizing Using The Plate
Option 2: Visualizing Using Your Hands
Again, this is a starting point to visualize how you can balance the nutrients you are
eating. The most important thing is to eat when you are hungry and until you are satisfied. At the end of your meal, you don’t want to still feel hungry and you don’t want to feel overly full.
You should feel at a comfortable level of satiety.
This takes practice to learn, but it’s worth it! You will be informed of the foods you are eating and intuitive in listening to your body’s needs!
Putting it All Into Practice
You now have the information to create a true lifestyle with your nutrition where you not only get results, but you keep them for life because you have the tools that you can use and adjust as you change and evolve in your nutritional needs.
This next section is all taken straight out of book three: The Practice. These are activities to practice and tools to use to be able to listen to your body and adjust the types and amounts of food that you are eating.
If you haven’t read through book three: The Practice, take the time to go through this. Even if you have read the book, read this again. Mastering a skill doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s good to go over it more than once!
There are 3 major parts to learning how to listen to and fuel your body.
1. Listen to hunger and fullness
2. Listen to how certain foods make you feel
3. Adjust according to what your body needs
If this sounds incredibly foreign to you, think about what skills you are best at in life. Maybe you’re a great athlete, businessperson, parent, artist, or any other skill. Whatever your greatest skills may be, how long have you spent practicing and doing those skills?
Skills take time, but they become second nature. Listening to and fueling your body well is a skill. It just takes a little attention, practice, and patience.
Let’s start by learning how to listen to your hunger and fullness.
Do you feel restricted to only eating certain amounts of food? Would you consider yourself a part of the “clean your plate” club? Both of these ideas may be well-intentioned but actually inhibit your ability to listen to your hunger for when to eat and, in turn, feel your fullness when your body has had enough to eat.
LISTENING TO HUNGER
It can be very challenging for someone who has constantly been on a diet to feel “allowed” to eat when they are hungry. Do you feel guilty when you’re hungry? Hunger is actually a good thing. Your metabolism is working. If you ate just a couple hours ago, but are hungry again, that’s ok.
Honor your hunger cues. Some days you will be more hungry than others.
Often, people will feel guilty for being hungry again when they feel that they “just ate.” Perhaps you aren’t eating enough or a good balance of nutrients during your meals and snacks. If you are only eating really small meals and snacks, you will constantly be in a state of hunger, which often can lead to constant thoughts of food.
If you learn to eat until your hunger is satisfied, your body and mind will start to calm and know that there will always be more food available when you need it again.
When you are on a diet that makes you count every calorie or macro, or determines very specific portion sizes, you can end up suppressing your body’s natural cues and simply relying on outlined portion sizes to determine how much you should eat. With this method, often the amount of food is not enough food for your body, leaving you constantly hungry, always thinking about food, and low in energy, leaving you ravenous towards the end of the day.
On the flip side, if you tend to be a part of the “clean your plate” club, you always clean your plate no matter if you’re hungry or not. You clean your plate, you finish the bag of chips, you eat the entire sandwich, leading to feelings of being overly-stuffed and potentially guilt.
Sometimes this comes from a place of not wanting to waste food, sometimes it’s a simple of lack awareness for hunger cues. Additionally, if you feel like this is your “last meal” you will more likely overeat if your mind thinks you won’t be eating again.
RESPECT AND FEEL YOUR FULLNESS
So, how does one listen to their hunger and in turn feel their fullness? This takes practice, but it is so important.
The key aspect of feeling your fullness is knowing that you will always have permission to eat. Food will ALWAYS be there and be available to you, so if you feel hungry again, you can always go back and eat more.
When you are just starting to practice this, eat slowly, and be mindful of how your food tastes and feels to you. Pause periodically throughout your meal and evaluate how hungry you still feel.
Does the food taste good? Do you still feel the sensation of hunger? If you still sense some hunger, eat a little more. If you sense that you are at a comfortable satiety level, you can be finished for the time being, because you know that you can always go back and get more later.
What does it feel like to be at a comfortable satiety level? Many people feel that they only know what hunger and being overly stuffed feels like. Being at a comfortable level of satiety means you neither feel hungry nor overly full, you are neutral. Your stomach feels subtly full, not too much, not too little. You feel content, energized, and satisfied.
INCREASE YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS TO FEEL YOUR FULLNESS
Sometimes, simply becoming more in the present moment and more consciously aware of your eating can make a big difference. Whether you find that you feel too restricted to being only allowed small amounts and fearing overeating, or are a “clean your plate” club member, or simply are not mindful of evaluating your hunger and fullness, becoming more consciously aware will be pivotal in being able to eat more intuitively.
One element that can be very helpful in being more conscious is avoiding distractions while eating. Try to find some time to sit down without the TV or eating while driving to your next meeting. This will allow you the headspace to keep your focus on the meal.
Like I mentioned before, pause throughout your meal to evaluate how your food is tasting and your hunger levels. This is a great practice while you are learning to eat intuitively and as you get more practice, this will become easier and easier and eventually - intuitive!
If you find that your hunger is satisfied during a meal, you don’t need to feel obligated to finish the plate. You can always save extra food for leftovers. On the flip side, don’t feel like you have to leave food on the plate if you are hungry enough to eat everything! There are no hard external rules for what your body needs at that particular meal, your body will guide you. You can leave food on your plate because you can save it for later and food will always be available later if you are still hungry. You can eat all of the food on your plate, without guilt, if you find that your hunger levels indicate that you are needing the food. Your body is smart, it just takes time to learn how to communicate and listen to it.
If you tend to overeat, sometimes having a physical indicator can help you signify the end of your meal. When you find that you reach a comfortable satiety level after your meal, some people find it helpful to have a physical indicator to help you remind yourself that your hunger is satisfied. Something like turning your fork upside down or pushing your plate back slightly can help you keep from picking at the remainder of the food even though your hunger is satisfied.
If you tend to undereat, practice positive self-talk during the meal. Encourage yourself that each bite you are taking is giving you energy and nourishment. Finishing your plate when you are hungry is a wonderful thing that will give you sustained energy throughout your day to be the healthiest version of yourself.
Learn to say no and yes based on what you truly need. We’ve all been to parties and family dinners when there’s someone pushing food or drinks on you constantly. It can be challenging to say no when you are peer pressured and constantly bombarded with offers. Go into the event prepared with how you want to respond when you are at a comfortable fullness level. It takes extra energy to say no and can feel uncomfortable at first, but consciously going in ahead of time having a plan of action will make it so much easier.
ELEMENTS OF FULLNESS
If you find that you are constantly hungry there may be a few factors to consider. The time since you last ate can be a major factor in your hunger levels. In addition, the types of foods you ate will impact how long your hunger is satisfied for. For example, eating lots of one-ingredient, nutrient-dense foods with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs will keep your hunger satisfied and blood sugar levels stable for longer than highly processed foods or low calorie, low nutrient, “diet foods” that tend to leave you unsatisfied. Your social circle can also be an influence in nutrition choices and amounts of food and drinks. A way to combat this is to continue practicing the consciousness of eating that we have already discussed. This can take practice and some discipline, but it’s empowering when you learn how to fuel your body well.
Overall, this process can take practice, so understand that it won’t happen overnight. Just keep with it and it will get easier with time. The process of changing your beliefs, feelings, and behaviors around listening to your hunger and feeling your fullness will be a positive chain reaction in the relationship with food and learning how to fuel the body well. The key is to keep practicing and give yourself grace along the way as you work towards the freedom of intuitive eating.
LISTENING TO HUNGER & FULLNESS OBSERVATIONS
When you are just getting started with eating intuitively, take note of a few things over the first week to evaluate how you are feeling and adjust your eating accordingly.
1) How am I feeling right when I wake up?
Observe your energy and hunger levels right when you wake up. Make sure you drink lots of water throughout your morning. Enjoy some coffee, tea, sparkling water, or simply regular water and observe how your body is feeling.
It can be a typical first habit to wake up and go right to the refrigerator or cupboard to look for something to eat before even evaluating hunger.
Do you feel hungry? Lethargic? Do you feel good? Energized? It can take some time to start listening to your body, so allow it time to adjust and become more attuned. Be aware of how your body feels and responds so you can start eating according to what helps you feel most energized.
The key is to know that there’s not one and only one “right” way to fuel your body. It is highly individual.
You don’t have to eat the very first thing in the morning. In fact, pushing your breakfast back an hour can give your body some extra time to burn energy most efficiently, without doing anything drastic. This strategy could be the key to getting past plateaus, as you don’t really have to change much at all with what you are doing, but it can give your body the jumpstart it needs to reach your goals. In addition, giving yourself a little time in the morning to wake up can allow you to be more alert and aware of your hunger to fuel it.
On the flip side, if you wake up in the morning and find that you are hungry, listen to that and fuel your body accordingly. For example, some people who work out early in the morning may find that they get in a better workout if they have some food in their system. That would be an example of listening to your body.
Remember, flexibility, balance and learning what is right for YOUR body, will help yield the best results.
2) How am I feeling throughout the morning? Midday? Afternoon? Evening?
Take some moments throughout your day to evaluate your hunger. If you find you are always hungry, you may need to be eating more food during your meals, eat more snacks, or find more nutrient-dense foods in order to satisfy your hunger.
If you find that you are never hungry, start eating more frequently throughout the day. If you tend to undereat and can’t eat larger meals at this point, eating more frequently can help get your metabolism rolling again when your body sees that it will continue getting nutrients to run properly.
3) Observe thoughts without judgment, take notes, and write truths.
Observe your thoughts of food, both while your eating and when you are not eating. Are the thoughts pleasant? Anxious? Eager? What is your mindset when you are eating and when you are away from food?
Notice the thoughts and record them by writing them down. If the thoughts are negative in any way, write a truth about food next to that thought.
For example, if you felt stress about eating rice because of the carbs, write down the thought verbatim as it was said in your thoughts. Then, write next to the thought something like, “This rice has carbs in it and these carbs are going to give me tons of energy. I will be so productive throughout my day from eating this.”
This exercise will help you get a better idea of your overall mindset, help you break the Dieting Mentality, and will help you see improvements as your relationship with food improves.
Overall, this process takes practice. At the end of this book, you’ll receive some journaling pages that will help you put this into practice! Just like brushing your teeth or riding a bike, it gets much easier with time.
Listening To How Certain Foods Make You Feel
What does it mean to “listen to how certain foods make you feel?”
This may sound like a far-fetched, mystical, unrealistic process, but it’s actually quite attainable, empowering, and beneficial once you learn how to do it.
Listening to how certain foods makes you feel means learning how to evaluate how your body feels and performs after eating certain foods.
Examples of this could be a “sugar high” after eating lots of candy or soda, feeling sluggish after eating low carb for two weeks straight, or feeling a quick boost of energy from a cup of coffee or eating a snack.
As we have learned in previous modules, foods have different types of nutrients that fuel our bodies in different ways. Practicing listening to how different types of foods make your body feel and perform will be so helpful in understanding how to choose foods regularly.
Everyone is slightly different in how their body responds to, digests, and absorbs certain foods. Some of this may have to do with allergies or sensitivities, but the vast majority of this process is learning how your body feels and performs when eating food. Some foods simply will digest better than others and learning what foods your body responds to best will be really helpful to fuel your body well.
Remember, protein, carbs, and fats are all sources of energy and fuel for your body. Paying attention to these fuel sources will be helpful to adjust the types of food and amounts of food that you are eating.
REMEMBER IT’S A PROCESS!
When you create a balance that allows you to fuel your body so that you feel great, achieve the look you are desiring, perform well, and enjoy life in a balanced way it’s empowering.
The different strategies that are outlined in Book Two: The Plan are a starting point for your mindfulness with nutrition that will help you work towards your goals. That being said, it’s really important to learn to listen to how your body is feeling and responding. Those are a starting point that you can adjust along the way according to how your body is feeling, performing, and responding. That’s the beauty of this process! You are the only master of your body, and you now have the tools to learn what it needs, then feed it accordingly.
While you work towards creating that balance, it’s important to realize this won’t happen overnight. Allow yourself the time and grace to practice this for a few weeks and even a few months without self-judgment.
There will be days where you are feeling over the moon and feeling great with how your body feels, enjoying all the foods you are eating. There will be days where you just feel sluggish, and off. That is okay and normal. If you have moments of frustration or doubt in yourself or the process, take a step back and a deep breath. Time, practice, and patience will allow you to continue to unlock the freedom of eating intuitively to feel your best, look amazing, and be incredibly confident.
Outline for Listening and Evaluating How Foods Make You Feel and Perform
This is a gentle outline for how you can structure your nutrition with learning to listen to your body for how foods make you feel and perform. A gentle outline means that these are not rigid rules that you have to follow. This is simply a guideline that you can determine what to eat and how to adjust what you eat according to how your body is feeling, responding, and performing after eating.
Listen and Evaluate How Your Body Feels with Your Current Nutrition Habits
To start the process of evaluating how certain foods make you feel, you will start with a simple mind-body connection exercise over the next few days without changing any of your current habits.
Here’s what you will do. Over the three days, you will be evaluating how you are feeling after you eat your meals.
Three times per day, take a minute to stop and jot down some notes in your Meal and Snack Journal about the type of food that you ate and how your body is feeling.
You do not need to track exact amounts of food, for example, you do not need to weigh, measure, or count calories in any way. You can keep this general in recording the types of foods that you were eating and general amounts.
For example, a record of a meal could look like this:
A chicken breast, two scoops of rice, a handful of peppers, a sprinkle of cheese, and salsa.
After writing down the foods from that meal, write down indicators for how your body is feeling. Here are some prompting questions to start evaluating indicators:
• Do I still feel hungry? Satisfied? Overly full? How would I rate my hunger right now 0-10? (0 being overly full/stuffed, 10 being starving/extremely hungry).
• Do I feel energized? Lethargic? Neutral? How would I rate my energy right now 0-10? (0 being no energy, 10 being extremely energized).
- Do I feel bloated? Light? Neutral?
- Do I have any stomach or other discomfort (cramping, gas, acid reflux, indigestion,
diarrhea, constipation, etc.)?
- Does my food seem to be digesting well? List any physical responses your body is having.
If I did any physical activity (work out, walk, hike, etc.), after eating, how did I feel? How did it go?
• Does my mind feel clear? Focused? Foggy? Neutral?
Relationship with Food
• How am I feeling emotionally after eating that meal? Do I feel guilty? Anxious? Happy? Relieved? Content? List any and all feelings you are having.
Evaluate how you are feeling right after your meal with these types of questions. Also take note of how you were feeling during the period of time since your last meal. Do this at least three times per day over the next three days. This will eventually help determine if you need to be eating a different amount of food and/or adjusting the types of foods you are eating.
Adjusting Foods According to How Your Body is Feeling and Performing
After three days of starting to listen to your body and taking notes throughout the process, start making adjustments by implementing the outline in Book Two: The Plan, if you haven't already or start making additional small adjustments. You can start including more whole foods and adjusting foods to find a balance that helps you feel your best, perform your best, and in all honesty, look your best in a balanced way!
As you implement elements of The Plan as a guide for food choices, continue the exercise of evaluating how you are feeling throughout the day. Use the different indicators (physical, mental, emotional) to evaluate and adjust until you start learning how you feel fueled well.
This process of adjusting foods according to how your body is feeling is not a single destination where you have the exact foods and exact amounts to eat every single day for your best results and performance.
This is an ebb and flow that can have an overall framework that works for you, but know that each day there may be variances in what your body needs and what you feel like eating. That being said, once you learn the basics, you’ll be able to use this as a starting framework for nutrition for life!
The overall point is to get you into a healthy rhythm where you understand how different foods fuel your body and how to adjust the types of food and amounts of food according to how you’re feeling and your activity levels. This process will help you not only reach the goals you’re after, but help you live a balanced, healthy life where you can KEEP those results.
By simply focusing on whole foods most of the time and learning to listen to hunger cues, you’re already on your way to a healthy lifestyle.
The goal is to get you to the place where you are feeling confident in how you look and feel, and then you focus on real food, eating intuitively, and adjust the types of foods you eat according to how you are feeling and your activity level. Got in a killer workout? Add in more carbs to refuel! Had an evening of pizza and soda the night before? Focus on more protein and veggies the next day! That’s the goal...and you can do it!
This may not be as sexy as a program where it’s “GET SHREDDED IN 30-SECONDS FOR THE ULTIMATE BEACH BOD,” but this is REAL and will actually help you enjoy your life, get results, and keep them.
This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. As you learn to live the lifestyle, here are some tips to get you to find the balance that is right for you.
As you practice implementing The Plan and making adjustments according to hunger, fullness, and how your body is feeling, remember the foundational mindset that we learned in Book One: The Method.
These are principles that you can use as mantras to help internalize to continually improve your relationship with food and your body. When you create an ecosystem of the mindset, paired with a flexible plan, and practice...You’re set up for success!
Now, keep practicing the activities outlined in this lesson and post about your experiences with them in the Facebook group! We are all here to learn and support each other and become a little bit happier, healthier, and more confident each day!