If you want to perform your best in life and martial arts, building good eating habits and a healthy diet are key. But there is so much nutrition information out there! So where to start?

With all of the conflicting nutrition information online, having a healthy diet can seem like a complicated process. But it doesn’t have to be. It turns out that improving our diet and eating habits is actually quite simple. We do not need to rely on any particular formula or way of eating or complicated food math in order to get results. Making improvements is in fact a much simpler process, and at its foundation focuses much more on how we eat than what we eat.

In my course on healthy eating I talk about 10 foundational steps to improve your diet and eating habits. These 10 steps are as follows:

  1. Make time
  2. Take action
  3. Eat slowly
  4. Stop eating at an appropriate fullness level
  5. Eat lean protein
  6. Eat colourful fruits and/or vegetables
  7. Eat smart carbs
  8. Eat healthy fats
  9. Plan balanced meals
  10. Drink enough water

This is a lot, so in the course I do walk you through each step slowly, giving you time to learn the information you need and then practise putting it into action. For now we’re going to focus on the first four steps, because these are the most important ones.

As a martial artist, you know how important it is to learn and practise the basics, right? Your basic punches, blocks, kicks, and the like: these are the foundational skills that you learn as a beginner, and that you keep practising no matter how advanced you get. Why? Because these are the most important skills. They inform everything else you do. They are the foundation, and they make everything else in martial arts possible.

Similarly, the 10 steps above are the “basics” for a healthy diet, with the first 4 being the most important. If you can master the first four, you will get far better results with the rest of the steps. So let’s focus on those.

Make time. Make time for your eating. Make time for grocery shopping and meal planning. Make time for preparing meals. Make time for finding new recipes. Make time for finding healthier options on the menus of your favourite restaurants. Making time for all of these things is THE most important step. You need to set aside time for food-related activities if you hope to make positive changes in this area. So set this time aside. It’s precious.

Take action. Learning about nutrition and healthy eating is great. I love learning. But if we don’t take action and apply what we’ve learned, this information is ultimately useless to us. A helpful activity is to make a list of 5-minute actions. Small, simple things that you can do to help overcome inertia and to keep moving forward. For example, 5 minutes to make a grocery list. 5 minutes to figure out what you’re going to make for dinner. 5 minutes to plan meals for the day. 5 minutes to cut up vegetables or fruit. 5 minutes to make a smoothie that you can later drink after your workout. 5-minute actions allow us to make progress without feeling overwhelmed.

Eat slowly. Paying attention while eating a meal and eating slowly can make a huge difference to our enjoyment of that meal. We learn so much about our preferences and bodies when we slow down and pay attention. Maybe that fatty meal you think you wanted doesn’t actually taste as good as you thought when you slow down and pay attention while eating it. Maybe you need different foods than you thought to feel satisfied. Maybe you tend to eat foods higher in fats and sugars when you eat on autopilot, such as while watching your favourite tv show. Paying attention and eating slowly can help tremendously in improving both our dietary choices as well as our enjoyment of our meals.

Stop eating at an appropriate fullness level. When we are rushed and don’t pay attention to our eating, we tend to eat more, and are then more likely to feel uncomfortably full after that meal. When we get better at step 3—eating slowly—we are more likely to clue in to feelings of satiety during that meal. When we’re rushed, we often miss that “finish line” that indicates that we’re full. Slowing down first, and then stopping that meal when satisfied, will go a long way towards improving our enjoyment of our meals and improving our health. In the podcast and video below I offer helpful guidelines for figuring out an appropriate fullness level for your goals.

The rest of the steps, 5-10, are important foundational steps as well, and I go into depth in my healthy eating course. But for now, and especially if your life feels overwhelming, focus on those first four steps. Make time. Take action. Eat slowly. And stop when full. Doing these four things will make a huge difference to your health and food satisfaction.

Simple as it all is, it’s not necessarily easy, and it will take practise. But even so, this is powerful stuff. Carving out time for eating, taking your time while eating, and paying attention to that eating experience: all of this speaks to a desire to prioritize your health and well-being.

By practising these simple steps you are telling yourself that your health matters, that feeling good in your body matters, and that you matter.

And guess what? You do.

Episode 16

Show Notes for Episode 16

Are you struggling with your diet and/or eating habits? I’m here to help. Learn the foundational skills that will help you improve your relationship with food today.

Here’s the link to my course on healthy eating: Nutrition Makeover: 10 Steps for Better Eating Habits and a Healthier (teachable.com)

Thank you for joining me on my martial arts journey, and in the exploration of all the ways we can perform better in life and martial arts.

You can also find me on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/thekarateshrimp

Check out my online courses here: https://thekarateshrimp.podia.com/

If you’re interested in starting your own podcast, I highly recommend Buzzsprout. The platform is incredibly easy to use. If you sign up for a paid plan through my link you’ll get a $20 credit, and you’ll help support my show! Here’s that sign-up link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=2039494

Thank you for listening! Together let’s build a community of strong, healthy, awesome martial artists.

If you prefer the video version of this episode, you can watch it here:

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Try eating this way at your next meal. Set aside time to eat (at least 15-20 minutes) and put away all distractions, and just focus on the meal in front of you. And then make note of how much more satisfied you feel when you eat this way. Feel free to share your findings in the Comments section below. Thanks for reading!

Recommended Resources

You’re reading Foundational Skills for Improving Your Diet and Eating Habits by Sabrina Bliem, originally posted on The Karate Shrimp. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow The Karate Shrimp on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!