In today’s diet culture, nutrition has become synonymous with weight loss. It seems like weight loss weaves its way into every conversation about food. While weight loss isn’t entirely a bad thing, I think that the glorified *emphasis* on weight loss has led to misconstrued nutrition information. So with this blog post, I invite you to consider a different perspective and look at nutrition goals that don’t include weight loss.
Nutrition Is Not Always About Weight
Let’s start with the definition of nutrition.
Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
Do you see anything related to weight loss in that definition? I don’t! I interpret that definition as including a variety of nutrient-dense foods for health promotion (not body size reduction).
Maybe you’re thinking, “but what if I need to lose weight for my health?”
Becoming a happy and healthy version of yourself is an amazing goal! However, despite what you may have been told, weight is not the best indicator of health. In fact, research supports that behavior changes such as eating nutritious foods and moving more can positively impact markers like blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure EVEN if weight doesn’t change.
There’s SO much more to health than the number on the scale.
This post is NOT about:
- Ways to cut back on calories
- A system for counting macros
- What you should eliminate from your diet to get back on track
- Short-term fixes to lose weight quickly
This post IS about:
- Small changes you can make to support your health
- Methods to prioritize nutrition vs. not caring about it at all
- Nutrient-dense foods that you can ADD to your diet
- Long-term habits developed over time
Nutrition Goals That Don’t Include Weight Loss
Here are 5 examples of nutrition goals that have nothing to do with weight loss.
1 – Increase fruit and vegetable intake.
We all know that eating fruits and vegetables is good for our health. But, it can be challenging to incorporate them, especially when we don’t make it a priority. If this sounds like you, try this mini challenge.
Next time you grocery shop, be intentional about adding 3 fruits & 3 veggies to your cart. It’s okay to start with the fruits and veggies that you know you enjoy. Eventually, you can branch out and try new kinds, too.
Examples of adding fruits and veggies to typical meals:
- Adding fresh berries to yogurt or oatmeal
- Saute chopped onion and bell peppers in an egg scramble
- Toss a handful of spinach into fruit smoothies
- Make the veggie the main part of the meal, like stuffed bell peppers
- Add a side salad to pasta or pizza night
This will help you incorporate a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals into your daily dietary intake.
2 – Aim for more variety.
Eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken and broccoli for dinner…rinse and repeat. Do you ever get stuck eating the same few foods?
Adding variety will not only make meals more exciting and enjoyable, you’ll also get a wider range of nutrients.
Variety of foods = variety of nutrients
Some ideas for rotating food:
- Try 1 new recipe per week
- Try non-traditional grains like bulgur, quinoa, or polenta where you typically include rice
- Eat a variety of colors; think green grapes, orange bell peppers, leafy greens, etc.
Aim for a variety of foods from the main food groups to cover your nutritional needs AND make meals more satisfying, tasty, and enjoyable.
3 – Drink more water.
Did you know that water is involved in every process in the human body? Talk about being necessary for health!
I understand that “drinking more water” might be one of those simple suggestions you’ve heard a million times. It’s that common scenario of I know what I need to do, I just don’t do it.
If that’s you, create a goal related to the main barrier that makes it difficult for you to drink more water.
Barrier → Goal
- Getting caught up in work → try setting timers on your phone as reminders to pause and get a drink of water
- You don’t like the taste → try fruit and herb infused water (ie. lemon + cucumber + basil)
- You run out quickly → try a larger water bottle
Some of these small shifts may sound silly, but trust me. Small changes that you can be consistent with for the long-term are key!
4 – Set yourself up for success.
Two keys to set yourself up for success in regards to nutrition are meal planning and meal prepping.
First, it’s essential to start with a plan before jumping into prep mode. Map out weekly meal ideas and build your grocery list from it. This helps to reduce decision fatigue during a busy week. In addition, you’ll save time and money at the grocery store because you know exactly what you need to get. Planning gives purpose to prepping.
Think about what will simplify your week the most and start there. Maybe it’s prepping 1-2 snack options for easy grab-and-go nourishment between meals. Chop veggies or fruits to pair with your favorite dip or make a batch of these Cashew Oatmeal Energy Balls. If breakfast is when you feel most pressed for time, consider prepping 1-2 breakfast options like cooking a batch of hard-boiled eggs or making overnight oats.
The bottom line: you don’t have to prepare every meal of the week. Prioritize prepping for the meal that needs the most support.
5 – Eat more mindfully.
There’s so much emphasis on WHAT to eat. Have you ever paused to reflect on HOW you eat?
Do you rush through meals, barely tasting your food? Are you eating most of your meals on the go?
If yes, then you may benefit from trying a mindful eating practice. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t require you don’t have to be completely *zen* at every meal.
Check out this blog post that I wrote for: 7 Mindful Eating Tips
There are several ways you can prioritize nutrition without focusing on weight loss. Let me know in the comments which one (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) you will prioritize this week!