Healthy eating and nutrition are difficult to nail down. Though there are seemingly endless tips, tricks, and hacks that you can use to zero-in and make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients your body requires, you can still easily end up spending an entire Sunday eating pizza and pints of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s something everybody struggles with — and sometimes taking an unorthodox approach to nutrition is a relatively easy way to get yourself back on track.
Most people know that we should be focusing our diets around certain foods and food groups. Typically, plant-based eating regimens with plenty of lean meats for fat and protein will set you on the path to health and wellness. You also need to make sure you get plenty of sleep and exercise, too.
But back to the unorthodox — if you’re willing to give some non-traditional nutritional shake-ups a shot, we’ve got you covered. You’ve probably seen a million “diet fixes that will change your life,” or similar headlines on the web or on the covers of magazines. It doesn’t hurt to try them, as what works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. But there are some scientifically-backed nutritional changes you can make that might just be the catalyst you’ve needed.
If you’re willing to get weird, try these non-traditional nutrition rules.
1. Eat constantly
Logic would dictate that you should decrease your consumption when trying to get in shape — not increase it. But constant grazing may actually be beneficial. It depends on what you’re eating entirely.
If you tend to restrict yourself to two or three meals a day, which tend to be rather big and calorie-dense, try switching that up by constantly snacking throughout the day instead. But stick to nutritionally-sound foods. Eat veggies or lean proteins, not salty or sugary snacks. This may help you keep control when dinner time rolls around and portion sizes are up to you.
2. Use cycles
Heard of carb-cycling? Well check it out, because it may be a new way to tailor your diet that can get you results. It’s all about when and how you eat certain foods, and hacking your body’s internal storage and energy management systems to most efficiently utilize it all. Basically, some days you’ll eat a good amount of carbs, and on others, far less. You’re staggering the amounts so that you don’t go crazy wanting pumpkin bread, and moderate your diet efficiently.
3. Get creative with powder
If you’re looking for new and inventive ways to get more protein into your diet, it’s time to get crazy with protein powder. Seriously — if you’re not a protein powder junkie, it’s time to try it out. And if you are? It’s time to get creative. Start throwing protein powder into foods or beverages you may not have tried before. A lot of people put it in their coffee, for example. Dig around — there are a lot of ways to use it you probably never considered.
4. Focus on hydration
You’ve likely heard that our appetites may be impacted by how hydrated we are. It’s true, and you should try focusing your nutrition around liquids — and not necessarily solids. Make sure you’re downing enough water and (hopefully sugar-free) beverages throughout the day and see how it impacts the amounts you eat. You’re likely going to be less hungry, and that will pay off in cutting down on caloric intake.
5. Use colorful plates
That’s right, your dinnerware may actually play a part in your overall health and fitness levels. Cornell psychologists have looked into it, and it turns out that our brains play tricks with us when it comes to color. Specifically, we eat more when the color of our plates matches the color of our meals. It’s weird, but true. Read more about it, and see for yourself.
6. Follow your nose
If using color and hydration techniques aren’t helpful, enlist the help of your olfactory system to curb your appetite. Odors and chemical compounds in certain foods — fruits, mostly — can impact our appetites and help you lose weight. At least that’s what scientists from the German Research Center For Food Chemistry have found, and they suggest taking a whiff of garlic and grapefruit as a starting point.
7. Have some sugar with breakfast
One way to curb your sugar cravings? Give in, just a little bit, first thing in the morning. Though you should definitely be avoiding sugar, adding a little sweetness to your breakfast can go a long way to controlling your sweet tooth later in the day. We’re not talking a lot; just satisfying the beast early before it gets out of control later. This also works for other cravings, like salt. Science has backed it up.
Follow Sam on Twitter @sliceofginger