I find that most people are obsessed with finding “the right way to eat”.
They want to know the nutritional food plan that will fix their eating habits forever.
And get them the result with their body that they want.
But this approach always leaves them stuck.
Because they’re focusing on “what they’re eating” and not “how they’re eating”.
In this episode, I share what you should (and shouldn’t) focus on when it comes to nutrition.
And when a focus on nutrition can be prioritized in your healthy eating journey.
Welcome back to the podcast. Before we dive into this episode, I want to quickly mention that if you’re interested in changing your eating habits sustainably on your terms, I have 1:1 coaching spots that will be available this month. If you want to learn more about that and how to apply you can go to katrentas.com/coaching to learn more. And you will learn more about my program and how to sign up for a private consultation with me to see if it’s a perfect fit. But moving on, today in this episode, we’re going to talk about nutrition. So, so fun. And it’s funny because I already know this will be one of my most popular episodes to date. Because those of you who are working to change your eating habits, are obsessed with the concept of nutrition. And the exact foods you should be eating to reach your ideal weight and see the results you want with your body. And I know this, because I used to be obsessed with nutrition. I would take classes, get training, read nutritional research – this was something I did for years and years. And what’s funny, is when I look back I know I didn’t consume all of that nutritional research because I was just so interested in nutrition. I was a little bit. But the real reason why I was doing that was because I was convinced there was one “right way to eat”. And I convinced myself that I didn’t have the eating habits I wanted, or the body I wanted, because I just didn’t know that right way to eat. And I had to figure it out. And the way to figure it out was by obsessing over nutrition. I was obsessed with finding the “healthy eating how”. If you haven’t listened to that episode, all about your “healthy eating how”, be sure to go back and listen to it. I talk more about that concept and my story around it. But, I was so invested in this idea that there was a “healthy eating how” and that there were specific nutritional steps I needed to take with food to change my eating habits. And that focusing on nutrition was the answer. I know from experience that so many of you are operating under this mindset. So many of you. Because I have been there. And there’s a reason why we’re led to believe this. Why were led to believe that focusing on “the right way to eat” is the answer. It’s because growing up we’re always taught to look for the answers outside of ourselves. When it comes to everything. And this continues throughout adulthood. We’re taught to find the “how” for everything from our parents, teachers, professors, bosses – all of the people outside of us that we think know what’s best. And in some respects this may be useful. But with food and body, this method of thinking doesn’t really work out. Because we become obsessed with finding the right “how” with food. Or with finding the right “food actions”. So we look outside of ourselves for those answers. And the diet and weight loss industry actually know this is what you want and what you’re looking for. So, they create action-based plans for you to follow. They create a “how”. They create programs that tell you exactly what to eat to get the results you want. And the reason why you’re so drawn to these types of solutions is because we’ve all been conditioned to search for the “how” when it comes to anything in our lives. To look for the right actions to solve a problem. You’ve been conditioned to think that to solve your eating struggles and weight you need to focus on the right actions with food. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve tried a huge amount of those action-based plans with food. Maybe you’ve tried to stick to a specific diet. Or you’ve tried to follow a meal plan you downloaded on Pinterest. Maybe you’ve tried focusing on “eating the right things” and you’ve tried focusing on nutrition. And it never worked out for you long-term. The reason why these action-based plans never worked out for you with food, is because it’s skipping over the work that needs to come first. Which is what’s bringing you to take actions with food. What’s causing you to eat the way you do. What’s compelling you to make certain food decisions. And what will bring you to take new actions with food effortlessly that serve you. This is the work that’s not covered in action-based plans or just by focusing on nutrition. And the reason why I’m starting off this episode by telling you this, is that this is where many people, including myself in the past, go wrong when it comes to nutrition. They think nutrition is something that should be focused on first. And that it’s the ultimate solution when it comes to eating healthy. Because that’s what’s being told to us, right? We’re told, “If you eat A,B, and C, then you will see X,Y, and Z results”. They make it seem that simple.
But really, what most of you will need to focus on first is the deeper, more foundational work with food. You need to determine what’s preventing you from making intentional healthy eating decisions without resistance. So that may be solving your overeating patterns. It may be solving for your emotional eating. It may be focusing on your overall relationship with food and body. All of the food struggles you’re experiencing that make your eating habits feel out of control. I promise you, focusing on nutrition and “eating the right things” won’t magically make you feel in control of your eating decisions. That’s the deeper work. That’s what we do in my coaching. And that’s what we talk about on this podcast. But you can’t skip it. Because think about it, right? If “eating the right things” was all it took, we’d all eat perfectly healthy, no problem. Most of you will actually generally know what foods provide you nutritional value. If we’re being honest. Maybe you don’t know everything there is to know about nutrition, but you likely generally have an idea. You probably know that unprocessed foods are better for you than processed foods. You probably know that you want to eat an adequate balance of nutrients. So why don’t you do it? Why didn’t I do it for years? Because it’s not about what you’re eating. It never was. What you need to focus on first is how you’re eating. Which is the deeper work. And then once you’ve managed how you’re eating, you can focus on what you’re eating. Which is what we’ll touch upon in this episode.
Now, with that out of the way, I want to make something else very clear. Nutrition is important. But, it’s not everything. And that is the point I’m really making with all of this. I have so much respect for nutritionists, dieticians, my fellow coaches, and the work that everyone is doing to help us achieve healthier eating habits. Because all of the work is so, so needed. All of it. The difference that we’re finding now, is that changing eating habits, for most of us who are just trying to eat healthy and reach our ideal weight, requires much broader solutions than just changing “what we eat”. It’s not as simple as we originally thought. Because for many of us, just focusing on nutrition won’t solve how we’re eating. And I’m not referring to the individuals who have certain deficiencies or medical problems that nutrition could solve. That’s different, right? I’m just referring to the average woman, like me, who wants to feel in control of her eating habits. Where everything you eat becomes an empowered and intentional decision. Many of you will think the problem is what you’re eating, but the problem is actually how you’re eating. Once you’ve solved for how you’re eating, and you’ve solved for overeating, emotional eating, limiting food beliefs – all of that deeper work – then you’ll find yourself in a place where you can focus on what you’re eating. And guess what? At that point you won’t have any resistance to it. Because you’ve done that foundational work. This is the timeline of healthy eating that sets you up for success. So, right now in my life I’ve gotten to a place where focusing on nutrition is super fun and beneficial for my body. Because I’ve managed how I’m eating. I know how to manage my emotional eating, my overeating, my relationship with food and body. That’s no longer something I actively struggle with. So, I’m in a place where focusing on what I’m eating is really, really fun. And I see it like a science experiment where I’m constantly figuring out what works for me and my body. But it feels so light now. It doesn’t feel heavy. Because I’m not focusing on nutrition with all of the extra struggles with food that I used to face. Does this make sense? I’m hoping this makes sense. I’ll also mention that I do occasionally get women who apply for my coaching. And they actually don’t need help with the “how”, right? They’re not struggling with feeling out of control with food. They’re not struggling to eat exactly what’s on a food plan. They’re not struggling with how they’re eating. Simply because that’s no longer their focus. They actually just want to know which foods will provide them the best nutritional value for their body. So they can optimize their health, fitness level – whatever it is for them that they’re trying to achieve. And while I could help them with that on a certain level, it’s really not my focus in my practice. This is the point when I would recommend them to a nutritionist or dietician because I know that would be a better fit potentially for them. And that they’re in a place in their timeline with healthy eating where they can focus on what they’re eating versus how they’re eating. What my coaching covers is the foundational work that comes first. Which is teaching you exactly what to focus on to make healthy, intentional eating decisions without resistance that feel easy for you. Alright? So, I’m hoping this makes sense. These are the types of realizations that would have helped me so much back in the day when I was really struggling to eat the right things. It’s realizations like these that I want to plaster on the side of buses, buildings – anywhere that people can see it. Because so many people are wondering why they’re struggling to follow those healthy food plans. And it’s because they’re simply not there yet. And that’s more than okay. The deeper work is where you also get the biggest transformations. So, it’s not work that you want to skip over. Trust me.
Now, with that being said, I do want to share some general areas of nutrition that you can focus on now. Not in a way where you’re obsessing over “the right things to eat”, but in a way where you’re having a general awareness of what foods will serve you nutritionally. Because I know firsthand. If I don’t clear up for you here what foods will serve you nutritionally, your brain is going to convince you that you have no idea how to eat healthy and that you don’t know where to start. So, I want to calm your mind a bit and give you a general idea of where you should focus when it comes to nutrition in the beginning. And you really don’t need to focus on too much. There are just four general things.
First, you’ll want to focus on incorporating whole foods when you can. And whole foods are foods that have not been changed in any way, shape, or form. It’s when the food is as close to its natural state as possible. So, these are the foods that tend to be on the outside edges of the grocery store, right? That’s normally where you have your meats, fresh veggies, fruits – all of the things in their more natural state. And the reason why this provides nutritional value is because these foods are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body can break down very easily. Your body can break down these whole foods into proteins, carbs, and fats. That you can then use for energy. So, keep this in the back of your mind. And start thinking about ways you can begin incorporating more whole foods into your diet. In a way that feels natural to you.
Second, you’ll want to focus on including fresh foods when you can. And this is when food is in it’s most alive state with the most available nutrients. So, the moment food is harvested it actually begins to lose some of that nutritional value. So it’s useful to make the effort and incorporate foods in their freshest state when you can. And this isn’t something you should feel pressure around, right? You don’t have to eat perfectly fresh foods all the time to be healthy. This is something you can just do intentionally when you can. For example, I try and shop locally and go to the farmer’s market so I can get those fresh foods. But then, I also always make sure I have canned vegetables, frozen fruits – things that last longer for when I don’t have the fresher options available. It’s all a balance. And it’s all about doing what you can, when you can, without feeling like you have to do these things.
Third, you can practice incorporating seasonal foods in your diet. And this just means you’re eating foods that are grown seasonally in the region you live in. These are foods that are in sync with nature, which actually helps your body acclimate to climate and temperature changes. And most importantly it can be cost effective and a way to make healthy eating fun, interesting, and enjoyable. I personally enjoy cooking seasonally. So, right now it’s pretty cold out. So, I’ll cook more hearty soups and eat more root veggies. So, this can be an excellent place to start if you’re looking to increase the nutritional value of what you’re eating. In a way that’s not too overwhelming.
Fourth, and lastly, you want to always be making sure you’re drinking enough water. And this may seem obvious, but it’s something that needs to be prioritized. You need to always be hydrating throughout your day. And while this doesn’t have to do with what you’re eating, water is extremely necessary for digestion and appetite regulation. So, it’s kind of a non-negotiable. Which is why I’m including here. It’s one of the most important things.
So, those are the four general areas of nutrition that you’ll want to focus on in the beginning. And what I love about just focusing on these things, is that they’re so simple. You don’t need to get into the weeds of what foods are better than other foods. You just want to intentionally try and make food decisions that provide you nutritional value. And you can do so by just focusing on these general areas. If you’re just focusing on these four things I talked about here, the nutritional value of your diet will improve drastically. It really doesn’t take as much as you may think.
Now, it goes without saying that there is so much noise associated with nutrition. For every health article you read on nutrition, there will be another one that says the complete opposite. It can be really, really overwhelming and lead you down this rabbit hole where you’re just spinning in the noise. And I always know when someone is in this rabbit hole, because I will get asked very specific nutritional questions. From women who are struggling to eat healthy. Questions like, “Which type of rice is most healthy for me?” or “Exactly how much fat should I be eating to lose X amount of pounds?” or “How much of this nutritional supplement should I be taking?”. Questions like that, right? And I’ll know that they are in that nutrition rabbit hole. Where they’re obsessing over finding the right answers when it comes to food. And I want to keep you and everyone else away from that rabbit hole. Because when it comes to changing your eating habits, the least time should be spent on what you’re eating. When you’re at that stage where you’re just trying to feel in control of your eating habits. There will be plenty of time to focus on optimizing your nutrition once you’re at a place where everything you eat feels like an easy, intentional decision you make without resistance. But right now, what you eat doesn’t need to be the main focus.
And here’s something you might find a little crazy. A focus on nutrition may never need to be necessary to see the results you want. Whaaaaaat? Let me explain. I will use myself as an example. I was able to reach my ideal weight and feel in control with food without ever focusing on nutrition. Because once I ended the emotional eating, the overeating, the binge eating, I was able to solve my struggles with food. And I ended up not needing to focus on specifics of nutrition whatsoever to achieve the results I wanted. Now, obviously, like I mentioned, nutrition is important. So eventually, I did incorporate those whole foods. I began making food choices that were more healthy and diverse. I started prioritizing fresh foods in my diet. And, I made sure I was drinking enough water. And my health did continue to improve. I did keep improving those results with my body. And I will continue to improve the results with my body as I learn more about what works for it. But, to get the results I wanted, to just feel completely in control with food and body, I didn’t have to focus exclusively on what I was eating. And on eating the right foods. And that’s really what I want you to take away from this episode. You don’t need to focus on the nutritional specifics just yet if you’re working on becoming someone who makes intentional eating decisions without resistance. And the nutritional work is super fun, but it will always be waiting for you if you want to incorporate it. But it’s not necessary to change your results with food and body completely.. Always be thinking about what must come first. Which is focusing on how you’re eating instead of what you’re eating. Alright, my lovely friend. I hope this gave you some new perspective. And I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified life and health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.