Alright. So you know mostly know how to eat healthy, yes? Or at least you are doing a little bit of research in that regard (which is awesome by the way!). [Side note: If you haven't already grabbed my Quick Guide to: Real Food cheat sheet, I HIGHLY recommend you do so now (before you forget..!).] But, that being said, did you know that your eating habits, such as the balance of your meals, greatly impact your health and can help or hinder your energy levels as well as cravings and nutrient deficiencies down the road? This post discusses questions I ask each of my personal training clients, and they are awesome questions to be asking yourself as well - maybe they'll give you some insight you never thought about before.
Two questions to ask about your eating habits.
As a personal trainer, there are two nutritional questions I ask my clients when initially meeting them that give me some great insight into their eating habit (or habits). The first one is "when and what are you most likely to crave and possibly overeat?", and the second is "what is your typical breakfast?" Both of these questions would give me a big clue as to their nutritional habits and also some possible deficiencies and imbalances.
Question #1: Cravings
When and what are clients most likely to crave or give in to? The "when" of this question tells me if their food cravings are out of stress or out of boredom, if they keep to 6 small meals a day or 2 large meals or something in between. Knowing this information gives me insight on how their day feels for them. If it's because they are stressed, finding an alternative de-stressing habit can be life changing. If they eat out of boredom, then again, finding a substitute or just having them realize this habit can make a difference between gaining weight and losing weight. Then, there's the situation of how many meals they are consuming. Depending on the number, this can determine whether or not they are putting their body at risk for low or high blood sugar or larger meals than their body can digest at one time. This information also helps me determine how to set up their nutritional plan going forward. Now on to discover what food they grab when their craving arrives. Are they reaching for salty foods, sweet foods, fatty foods? These give a clue as to the nutrients they may be deficient in or the processes that are not working properly in their body. From experience, I believe the best way to combat this habit is to help the individual stick to their shopping list and avoid bringing their cravings into the house. Even the strongest, most self-controlled person (including myself) can fall victim when their bodily systems are not running optimally and the food is under their roof.
Question #2: Breakfast habit
The second question I ask, is "what's your typically breakfast?" I ask all my personal training clients this question about their eating habits and generally they share the same answer – a carb bomb. What one consumes for breakfast can set up the rest of their day. If someone consumes a carb bomb first thing, they are almost guaranteed to experience a blood sugar roller coaster the rest of the day. Switching to a more balanced breakfast can allow steady energy throughout the day. Knowing exactly what they eat will also allow me to determine if what they consume is nutrient dense or nutrient poor. Has it been properly prepared? Is it from a good source? Does it contain vegetables or other fiber and nutrient-rich foods? The other answer I get often is that they don't eat anything (or just a cup, or two, of coffee). Again, this can determine how their blood sugar reacts for the day: whether they're consuming enough calories in their day, if their meals are balanced, and whether this skipped meal causes their cravings and over-consumption of snacks or meals down the road.
Asking these two questions, alone, is very insightful for getting to know the history and eating habits of a new client. Sharing small changes they could make to help them achieve their health goals is a great next step. Sometimes, it's the little habits that make the biggest change.
How did you answer these 2 questions about your eating habits? Either of them give you an "ah-ha!" moment? Let me know in the comments below!
Interested in more lifestyle tips to create a healthier and happier you? Then this post is for you.