Invest in You, Part 18: Food choices

06:14, Feb 26 2012
woman eating chocolate
THINK TWICE: Before you reach for that chocolate, ask yourself "What do I really need?"

These are great ways to get around common excuses, for sure - but what about when you're sorted for your gym routine and need help with the food aspect? How do you overcome the excuses for bad food choices? I'm currently under a bit of stress, and have used it to justify some terrible food choices I've made over the last week...


I'm really glad Lala mentioned using excuses with food. Making bad choices is easy when we're stressed or under pressure. The key is to not let it get you down.

Try finding other ways to destress, if that's the true cause of poor food choices. But if that's just an excuse, try keeping a food diary to make yourself accountable.

Here are a few guidelines I use:


1. I follow a three-day rule. If I make an unhealthy food choice, I make sure to eat clean for the next three days.  This puts me back into a good place mentally and physically, and stops me getting caught up in a spiral of unhealthy eating.

2. When I'm tired and stressed, and tempted to reach for some high-carb junk food for an energy hit, I ask myself "What is it I need right now?" Usually the answer is "good food", not chocolate.

3. I eat mostly high protein, low GI foods, good fats and fibrous vegetables to keep me full for longer. Protein targets specific parts of your brain related to focus and drive, so when I'm feeling unfocused I grab some chicken, salmon or brazil nuts and a glass of water. That puts me back on track and helps in times of stress.

That said, it's not about being perfect. When we strive for perfection, we eventually fall over from sheer exhaustion.

Cut your "poor food choice" meals back to a few a week. Be 100 per cent good, 90 per cent of the time.

The 100/90 rule is a great philosophy to help achieve health and fitness goals, while still allowing freedom to indulge.

Here's why it works:

1. Mentally, we're able to commit to eating well if we know we can have a small treat - it's like light at the end of the tunnel. It's far easier to say no to something if you know you can indulge some other time.

2. Giving your body the occasional treat lets it know that it isn't being starved, and can afford to release stored fuel sources - that is, fat.

3. It's a proven fact that the happier we are, the healthier we are. If we're able to unwind with a glass of wine or a slice of pizza here and there, the enjoyment we get will outweigh the nutritional negatives.

And some of us can afford to be more relaxed than others. I believe we all have different ratios of food focus to exercise focus.

Mine is very much about food - I need to be pretty darn clean most of the time to achieve any significant results, but I can be a little more relaxed with exercise.

On the other hand, some clients of mine can be flexible with food but need to stay structured and focused on exercise.

It comes down to several factors: what we find mentally easy; how well our bodies digest and break down foods; our current state of stress; our level of lean mass (muscle); how well we sleep and more.

Over the past six weeks, Lee-Anne has shared her healthy living tips. We'd love to hear about your Invest in You experience. What changes have you made? What worked well for you? What are you still struggling with? What's the next step in your journey towards a fitter, happier you?