Strategy 1) Make Your Own Decisions:
You may still be a bit unsure about how the 3 Sleekgeek Food Lists work and how you can rate your meals according to the Reboot Levels.
Don’t worry, this is something that you’ll learn with practice.
Over the next 21 days, you’re going to need to make your own decisions and judgments about your meals so that you can score them appropriately.
The main thing to understand is that the Reboot works on a continuum from LEAST processed to MOST processed.
You want to move away from more processed unhealthy foods towards healthy minimally processed foods:
- McDonalds French Fries > Homemade Potato Wedges > Potatoes.
- Tomato Sauce > Tomato Puree > Tomatoes.
- Fruit Juice > Apple Sauce > Apples.
- Deep-Fried Chicken > Crumbed Chicken > Chicken.
- Yoghurt-Coated Rice Cakes > White Rice > Brown Rice.
- Store-Bought Salad Dressing > Homemade Salad Dressing > Olive Oil.
- Dry Wors > Biltong > Lean Beef.
- White Bread > Whole Grain Bread > Whole Grains.
- Peanut Butter with Salt and Sugar > Natural Peanut Butter > Peanuts.
Sometimes there are a few exceptions, such as sugar content, fat content, or mercury content, but this is fairly uncommon.
Generally, if you’re unsure where (or why) something belongs on the food list continuum, consider whether it could be any less or more processed.
For yourself personally, you can also consider whether you could have made a better or worse choice. For example: Many people might not consider crumbed chicken to be terribly healthy, but if you normally would have eaten deep-fried chicken then crumbed chicken is a good step forwards.
Another consideration is whether you can more easily or less easily overconsume it. For example: It’s easy to swig down a 200ml apple juice box like it’s nothing, but it’s much harder to chomp through 3 big apples that would be required to produce that much juice. Plus, you won’t get any of the fibre from the apples to keep you fuller for longer afterwards and slow down the sugar absorption.
You won’t always know without a doubt which food is healthier or less healthier, but you can always make the decision to opt for a less processed, lower sugar, and more filling option.
Strategy 2) Plan Ahead:
Having a strategy and being intentional can make all the difference.
Like with just about anything in life, the amateur is unprepared while the professional has a plan.
After taking a look at the Green, Orange, and Red Food Lists, write down or highlight foods that fit the following questions:
- Green List Foods that I like or want to try:
- Protein (pick 4)
- Carbs (pick 4)
- Fats (pick 4)
- Veg (pick 8 – aim for a variety of colours)
- Orange List Foods that I want to incorporate:
- Protein (pick 3)
- Carbs (pick 3)
- Fats (pick 3)
- Red List Foods that I want to indulge in:
- Protein (pick 2)
- Carbs (pick 2)
- Fats (pick 2)
Over the next 21 days, see if you can build your meals around the foods that you listed from the Green List, calling on foods from the Orange List if you need help, and trying to limit your Red List foods to the small handful that you listed to indulge in (with moderation).
You don’t HAVE to do this and you absolutely can eat foods other than what you chose, but it can helpful to have a few main foods to focus on.
See if you can build a “menu” of simple go-to meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner using mostly foods from the Green List or take a look at our recipes for ideas.
Strategy 3) Design Your Environment:
Your environment plays a much bigger role in your success than things like motivation, willpower, talent, genetics, or luck.
We like to think that we make all of our own choices, but very often, our choices and decisions are actually driven by our environment.
- If someone puts a chocolate on your desk, suddenly they’ve changed your environment and you’re now much more likely to “choose” to eat the chocolate, even if you weren’t thinking about chocolate until then.
- If you walk into the kitchen and the first thing you see if a big bowl of fruit, you’re more likely to eat some than if you walked into the kitchen and there was a jar of rusks instead.
- If you grow up in a household full of smokers, you are much more likely to become a smoker yourself than if you grew up in a household where no one smoked.
This is not about how much willpower you have, whether you feel motivated or not, or what kind of genetics you were born with.
It’s environment design and whether it sets you up for success or failure by default.
When you design your environment properly, willpower and motivation become nearly optional.
Well designed environments help you to effortlessly stay on track, letting you save your willpower and energy for other important things in life.
Your home kitchen environment is one of the more influential places that is within your control. Here are some basics to get you started:
- Put healthier foods at eye level. Make them noticeable.
- Put healthier foods in transparent containers. Make them visible.
- Put healthier foods at the front and within easy reach. Make them accessible.
- Do the opposite for less healthy foods. Either get rid of them, or make them less noticeable, visible, and accessible.
Stocking up on healthy food, while reducing or eliminating junk food ensures that your environment works with you rather than against you.
You can read more about doing a Kitchen Makeover here.
Strategy 4) Hunger and Appetite Awareness:
Mastering your hunger and appetite is the key to having a better relationship with food.
There are 4 things that you can do:
1) Rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10:
- Before each meal, consider how hungry you actually are.
- A score of 1 being NOT hungry at all and a score of 10 being the hungriest you’ve EVER been.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll need to let yourself get a little bit hungry from time to time. This helps with maintaining weight too.
- See if you can push back your meal until you’re at a 7 or 8 out of 10.
2) Need, Want, or Should:
- Before each meal, identify why you’re wanting to eat.
- Do you NEED to eat? (You physically require food.)
- Do you WANT to eat? (You desire the food because it will taste good.)
- Do you feel like you SHOULD be eating? (You usually eat around this time or everyone else is eating so you feel like you should too.)
- Ideally, you should only be eating when you physically need to eat. However, if you do catch yourself eating because you want to or feel like you should, then see if you can eat smaller portions than normal.
3) Eat Slowly and Mindfully:
- It takes about 20 minutes from the start of your meal for your brain to send out satiety signals and hormones that indicate you are getting full and no longer need to eat.
- If you eat too quickly, then you will completely miss these signals and likely overeat.
- Research shows that people who eat slowly tend to be less overweight, more satisfied after eating, have fewer cravings, eat less frequently, and have fewer digestion problems.
4) Stop at 80% Full:
- Eating until you’re “80% full” goes hand in hand with eating slowly.
- It’s that sweet spot between being hungry and being full. It’s when you simply no longer feel the need to eat.
- 80% Full is not actually a specific number, it’s an intention. A conscious effort while eating (or while serving your food) to not overeat.
- The goal is to avoid ending up “stuffed” and therefore eating too much.
- Being mindful of how much you eat and whether you are still actually hungry before taking the next bite of food is a very useful tool in losing fat as well as effortlessly maintaining a healthy weight.
5) Less Snacking:
- Most people never let themselves get truly hungry anymore because they always have a snack to fill that gap.
- When you always have the option to snack, the quality of your meals becomes less important because if they don’t fill you up and keep you satisfied you can always just grab another snack to keep you going.
- That’s a great modern-world luxury to have, but it also brings a modern-world problem: Overeating and unwanted weight gain.
- It’s a myth that eating frequently increases your metabolism (it doesn’t). Instead, it’s more likely to cause you to constantly think about food and make it easy to eat too much too often.
- Filling up on minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods (especially protein and vegetables) is a great way to stay fuller for longer after your meals and avoid the need to snack.
- Experiment with deliberately eating fewer snacks or even no snacking at all to see how that goes.
- Read more about “Here’s why you’re always hungry“.
Strategy 5) Portion Control:
At Sleekgeek, we don’t normally recommend calorie counting.
This is not because we think it doesn’t work (it does) or that calories don’t matter (they most definitely do)…
It’s just that we don’t think most people need or want to do math every time they sit down to eat a meal.
A much easier way is to simplify portion control by using your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb as measuring tools.
It works incredibly well because:
- It’s portable. Most people bring their hands with them wherever they go.
- It’s scalable. Bigger people need more food and tend to have bigger hands, smaller people need less food and tend to have smaller hands.
- It’s customisable. Simply add or remove servings depending on your needs such as an extra serving of carbs for your post-workout meal or swap out a serving of carbs for an extra serving of veg or fat for a lower-carb meal.