Is there such a thing as the perfect healthy eating plan? As a personal trainer you already know the answer. So what do you say when someone asks for the ideal way to eat?
The best personal trainers know there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all healthy eating plan. Lifestyle, food preferences, food behaviours, starting points (and end goals) are just some of the things a PT will take into account when helping a client with nutrition.
But there are solid nutritional guidelines which could benefit almost everyone. These fundamentals of healthy eating form the perfect healthy eating plan. Here are 7 healthy eating cornerstones you could recommend next time someone asks you for "the best way to eat"!
1 Consistency is Key
The most perfect eating plan in the world is no use if it's not applied consistently. Whatever the goal - fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain, health - a nutrition plan needs to be followed calmly, patiently and consistently.
2 Plan and Prepare
And it's no good if your client eats perfectly at home but slips up as soon as they are out and about. Get them into the great habit of planning the weekly menu, and shopping for only the ingredients they need. Batch cooking is a great time saver. Planning tomorrow's meals will help them avoid vending machines and fast food quick-grab options. Food prep is a great skill which you can help people develop.
3 Keep a Food Diary
Most people are simply unaware of what they eat, how much, when and why. Ask clients to keep a food diary for one full week - including weekend days. Even nibbles and unobserved spoonfuls have to be recorded. Ask them to write down the time, the situation, and what they were feeling before they ate. It's not about judging themselves but about painting a real picture of how they eat now, so a perfect healthy eating plan can be devised.
4 Identify Unhelpful Eating Habits
It's all very well telling someone to eat six small meals a day if they are prone to overeating in the evening out of boredom, emotion or habit. Before anyone develops their best healthy eating plan, they need to have an honest look at food habits and behaviours which have led to weight gain in the past. They can then develop a plan which helps them overcome it, leading to long term sustainable weight loss.
5 Drink More Water
Here's an easy one everyone can do! Simply drink more pure water every day. Not squash, diluted juice, protein drinks or sports drinks, but fresh water. Aim for at least 2 litres a day, more if you are a larger person and/or very active.
6 Eat More Vegetables and Leafy Greens
This is another tip which will benefit everyone. There are so many reasons to eat more vegetables and leafy greens, from fibre and digestive health to micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, to filling up and offsetting hunger and cravings. Branch out from your usual vegetables choices and try new things to benefit from a range of nutrients.
7 Put Your Carbohydrates Around Your Activity
Most people eat more carbohydrates than they really need, often from poor choices (processed foods and packaged items). If people concentrated their carb-foods around their activity (whether that's an active job or actual exercise), it would help their bodies burn fat, replenish glycogen stores, and shift the balance of macronutrients in the diet.
You can find out more about nutrition, as well as much more, on our Personal Training Courses.