Mashed cauliflower and green pea lentils

Last night, my mom, Karel and I yummed over this meal not only during the meal, but after. It hit the spot. For a meal that tasted so yummy and looked so colorful, there was not a lot of work needed for this meal. 

Green pea lentils - cook according to package and season with herbs/spices of your liking or just a pinch of salt and pepper
Mashed cauliflower - steam cut/cleaned cauliflower in large pot until soft. Drain water and mash with fork or potato masher. Season with caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper and garlic to your liking.
Avocado and pear salad -
Romaine lettuce (chopped), chopped pear, diced avocado, sunflower seeds and artichokes
Hard boiled egg or other protein

As we enter the holiday season and new year, new habits may be born but more so, old habits will be hard to break. It's likely that you have found yourself at a dietary breaking point once or twice in the year in terms of "enough is enough, this has got to end."

So what is it that you want to change?Regardless if you feel you need a change in your eating routine or not, it's likely that you are comfortable in your ways and have gotten accustomed to eating certain foods at certain times and in certain situations. Changing dietary habits is hard. It takes time. This is not comforting for someone who wants quick changes or quick results. Recognize that it is extremely important to slowly adapt new habits over time. Quick fixes rarely last. 

Unlike starting a new exercise routine where you typically feel your efforts before you see the results of them, changing dietary habits does not always come with immediate results that you feel and see. Typically it can take a few days or a month to know that your consistent changes are actually paying off and this is hard for the individual who is changing habits but after 48 hours gives up because results are not being noticed. 

The most popular reasons I come across, in terms of wanting to change dietary  habits, are:
Performance goals
Body composition/weight goals
Health goals

These are great areas to focus on because they all correlate together. We can assume that if an athlete eats a more nutrient dense diet, his/her health will improve but also performance. Furthermore, an athlete may also experience a change in body composition by nourishing the body with appropriate foods, timed correctly. Additionally, if an athlete begins to time nutrition properly before, during and after workouts to improve performance, there may be less cravings/overeating later in the day which may pave the way to a more nutrient dense diet to improve health and support the immune system and ultimately, metabolism is not negatively affected and body composition goals are gradually achieved. 

So when you are considering a change in your eating routine, perhaps for one of the reasons mentioned above, consider the following:

1) What needs to be fixed
2) Why haven't you been able to fix this over the past 6-12 months
3) How will you fix this

Perhaps there is more than one change that is needed in your lifestyle to reach your health, performance or body composition goals but by breaking down things into smaller, meaningful and more realistic parts, it is much easier to identify where you would like to put your energy instead of trying to be perfect all day ever day or change a lot of things at once (especially changing some things that do not need to be changed). 

I have worked with a number of athletes on dietary changes specific to performance, health and body composition. Although my primary focus is making sure athletes fuel properly before, during and after workouts to support training stress, the daily diet is never overlooked. 

Here are a few issues that tend to come up when athletes are seeking dietary changes: 

Body composition/Weight goal concerns:
Hungry all the time
No time to cook/meal prep
Don't like to cook/meal prep
A lot of traveling/eating out
Inconsistent living routine
Always on the go
Always in meetings
Not hungry all day until dinner/evening
Excessive calorie intake in the evening
Lots of sugary cravings
Guilty eating
Unhealthy relationship with food
Unhealthy relationship with the body
Disordered eating habits

Performance goals:
GI upset before/during workouts
Inconsistent energy levels during workouts
Dizziness/fatigue/lightheaded during/after workouts
Poor recovery after workouts
Can't execute properly on race day
Lack of education on nutrient timing/sport nutrition
High volume training with weight gainUnintentional weight loss
Wanting to gain the competitive edge
Wanting to build lean muscle mass/gain strength and power
Body composition changes

Health goals:GI distress before/during/after workouts
Digestion issues around meals and before races
Dietary intolerances
Past history of dieting
Restrictive diet (for religious, moral, ethical, health reasons)
Reduce risk of disease/illness
Hormonal issues (including menstruation issues for athletic women)Significant weight loss for health reasons
Creating a healthier relationship with food