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The three most important mindset shifts for nutrition success Print

Three Mindset Shifts for Nutrition Success

Andrea Holwegner as published in Calgary Herald Newspaper

Chances are the biggest barrier to achieving success in many things in your life has more to do with your mindset than a lack of ideas of what to do. Making nutrition, exercise and health change is no exception. 

What type of mindset shift leads to the best long-term success to improve your overall energy, health and weight management efforts? Below I explore three business and lifestyle books that fundamentally changed my mindset in both my work and personal life. Although these are not health books, I will apply these game-changing concepts to what this means for your eating habits.

1.  Become a “nutrition essentialist”Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less Book

One of my favourite books over the last five years was written by Greg McKeown Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The book is about distilling the absolute essential things in your life and eliminating everything else. As someone who values richness of health and time more than anything, this book and the concepts continue to help me intentionally choose less instead of thinking “how can I fit it all in?”

The concept of “less but better” is highly relevant to your health. When you discern what is essential, health almost always rises to the top since without this, nothing else matters. Living as an essentialist allows you think about your thinking, become more intentional and less reactive with respect to your food choices. It will allow you to make the tough calls to place a clear boundary around your time so that you have the mental space and practical amount of time needed to cook a healthy dinner, enjoy being physically active on the weekend with friends or family and eat mindfully in a less frantic on-the-go careless way, instead of grabbing whatever is convenient. 

2.  Nail “the one thing” for nutrition successThe One Thing Book  

In the book The One Thing: the Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, you will explore the ONE thing you can do so that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary. The best results to achieve anything in your life, work or finding purpose is determined by how narrow you can make your focus. Health is no exception.

Not everything matters equally. There are “nice to have” ideas for fine tuning and “need to have” strategies for health, energy and weight management success. I’ve seen many of our clients get tripped up trying to achieve everything with equal importance, which makes results weaker and sustainability a challenge. Chances are you do not need to change twenty things in your diet but you may need to tweak the portion size of your everyday food choices or strategize the emotional aspects of why you are eating to create big shifts in your life.

Success is determined sequentially. For nutrition success, the little things you do daily are the big things. I enjoyed one of the analogies in the book that small dominoes can tip over very large dominoes if you stack them right. I have seen time and time again when our clients take consistent action on bite-sized changes they experience supersized results. What you do occasionally on the weekend or while socializing matters less. Packing a daily healthy afternoon snack for the 4 p.m. ‘hangry’ time of day or committing to eating a piece of fruit as part of their breakfast every day is far more effective than a spring cleanse or detox diet done for a week.

3.  Clarify “what soulful food sparks joy?” 

Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing also has important lessons that can improve health. This book fundamentallyThe life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo shifted the way I think about my possessions and philosophy of what I own and choose to donate. 

If your physical space is less cluttered and you are surrounded only by items you love, this lighter feeling impacts success for your personal life, work life and also your health. Although the book concepts do not dive into how to declutter and organize your kitchen, if you take the book concepts and truly think about placing only items you use and love in your kitchen then cooking becomes that much easier and enjoyable. 

The most important concept in this book is asking the very simple yet profound question “Does this spark joy?” for all your possessions. I would encourage you to apply this question to soulful foods (yummy foods chosen for taste and enjoyment rather than for health purposes). While applying this question to all foods may have you never wanting to eat another vegetable again (if they do not spark joy for you), it works incredibly well for items like chips, chocolate, cookies, beer or wine. When you specifically clarify which soulful foods in your diet truly spark joy, are enjoyed socially and make your taste buds sing, it becomes much easier to eat these mindfully. Smaller portions of soulful foods also often become more satisfying. It also becomes easier to give up bad habits or decrease items chosen without thought because someone in your home was eating them. It also becomes easier to plan ahead and skip grabbing a quick fix for energy out of a vending machine because you forgot to bring a healthy afternoon snack.

Where to start

While everyone will define nutrition essentialism, their “one thing” and what sparks joy differently, having worked with clients for close to two decades if you were going to start anywhere I would encourage you to examine supper. Answer the question “what is for supper tomorrow night?” While this sounds simple, being able to effectively answer this question means you have a clear essentialist understanding of what you need for your medical situation or health goal. It also means you have said no to many things so that you can find time to shop and prepare healthy food. It also means you have figured out how to make healthy food taste good to truly spark joy so that you won’t want to ditch your healthy eating plan. Answering this question may also simplify lunch if you decide to make extras for leftovers. It may also lead to better family connectedness and joy since you have made eating together as a family important.

 

This article originally appeared in the Calgary Herald

Struggling to determine what is essential, or what brings joy to your taste buds? Trying to figure out how to balance the “need to have” vs the “nice to have” things in your life with regards to food? Contact us about personal nutritional counselling programs to help bring clarity to your home, and table.

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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