Have you ever heard of analysis paralysis? It’s what happens when you over-think things.
You know when you take the longer, more complicated approach instead of the simple, more obvious one? Or those “has anyone seen my keys?” moments, when you ravage the house but had them in your hands the whole time?
Well, I’ve had my share of these episodes lately which, for the record is because I’ve been working on a project I’m excited to finally share with you all next week (yay!). Suffice to say, I know that analysis paralysis can be extremely frustrating and unmotivating, taking you in circles and nowhere closer to your goal.
This got me thinking about how we do this very thing, with our eating habits.
Too often, I see people lose themselves in the nitty-gritty of nutrition, looking for far-fetched solutions to a problem that, well, is sitting right under their noses. And although I’m always excited to learn about emerging nutrition research, most of this information acts like a shiny, distracting object, drawing attention away from healthful eating basics.
Here is a round-up inspired by the people I work with closely of common eating mistakes to avoid.
Not enough home cooking
What’s your ratio of home cooked to restaurant meals during the week? Ideally, home cooked should take it 3/4 of the time. So if you find yourself slacking on your office lunch boxes or eating out for reasons of convenience, then it’s time to put planning and home cooking front and center.
Not eating often enough
What does your eating frequency look like? To optimize energy, rev metabolism, keep blood sugar steady, curb hunger and cravings, you should be fueling yourself with whole foods, every 3-4 hours. If this seems counterproductive to you, remember that when it comes to having the upper hand on our hunger, prevention is key. Smart snacking keeps you in check.
Not enough veggies on the plate
Do vegetables act as the foundation of your meals, or are they tossed to the side? Eating an abundance of vegetables is undisputed healthful living advice, so be sure to follow it. Veggie newbie? Go gradually by working them in every day and then at every meal.
Your habits change on weekends
Some people have no trouble eating a healthful diet during the week. The structured schedule of the workweek keeps them in line. But come weekend and it’s an entirely different story. Between running errands, social gatherings, cocktails, appetizers, brunches and the works, the impact of a weekend should not be overlooked. Aim to keep your eating schedule and food quality constant every day of the week.
Lack of awareness
Do you eat standing up, in the car, while you work or watching TV? This lack of awareness may be causing you to eat too quickly, eat beyond fulness or more importantly, not obtain any satisfaction from your food. Take at least 15 minutes to enjoy your meal, undistracted, bringing attention to your food and how you feel.
Not eating enough fat
Are your fridge and pantry stocked with “low-fat” or “fat-free” products? Because you may need to fatten-up your diet. Fat is a macronutrient essential to your body for proper function. Fat also naturally slows stomach emptying making you feel fuller, faster. Besides, most fat-free products are usually packed with refined carbohydrates, are unsatisfying and void of any nutrition. Nuts, seeds, olives and avocados are few examples of nutrient-dense, whole foods full of fabulous fats.
You’re a breakfast skipper
Having a balanced breakfast, including high-fiber carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats helps control hunger, curb sugar cravings, sets the tone for energy levels throughout the day and has repeatedly shown to help control weight. Don’t skip on that.
Your portions are too large
Deviating from portion sizes is very common and often happens without you noticing. You may be serving yourself more than you used to or are finishing everything on plate simply because it’s in front of you. In any case, it may be worth doing some downsizing, even just by a little. In his book Mindless Eating , Brian Wansink discusses research suggesting that most people could cut their portions by 20% and not even notice. If you’d like, try adding 20% more vegetables to your plate for a 2 birds 1 stone kind of deal.
So there you have it. When you find yourself searching for an answer that just won’t come, take a step back and cover your bases. In nutrition and in life, the answer is often simpler than we think.
Are you guilty of any of these basic mistakes? Do you suffer from analysis paralysis? How do you get out of it?