How To Make Flexible Eating Work For You

Good morning Fitness enthusiasts and foodies! Did you all enjoy a great Fourth of July? J and I visited his parents for a few days before I headed back to see my parents. I have been enjoying a much more flexible eating plan this summer than last summer, probably because I have learned over the past year a lot more about my habits, likes and dislikes.

When I started transitioning to a flexible eating plan last Summer,  navigating what I “could” eat or “couldn’t” eat gave me panic. Sometimes I would go a little overboard like only having 2 meals in the day because I woke up late or eating chicken finger with fries, a Twix bar, 2 cupcakes and 2 slices of pizza because well hell, if it fits my macros!

IMG_4618
A healthy and balanced meal from the Morton Williams food bar.

One of the best parts of summer is being able to explore new places and try new foods, so fretting about everything while you’re eating out or on the road can be a real mood killer. So how do you enjoy delicious foods during the summer months while still maintaining your wellness goals?

Instead of focusing on calories I focus on the nutrient breakdown (protein, carbs and fat) which means while prepping meals I keep my protein, carbs and fat goals in mind. Focusing on how much protein, carbs and fat I am getting throughout the day takes focus away from whether or not a food is “healthy” or “unhealthy.” If I wake up and have a bagel with cream cheese (a meal low in protein) then I know I need to think about getting more protein throughout my day. Such a flexible approach allows you to move away from negative eating thoughts and adjust all of your meals to accommodate foods that may lack certain nutritional values.

Here are 3 days of what flexible eating can look like and how you can start to flex your flexible eating muscle this summer:

Current Goals

Currently my goals look like this:

30% of my calories will come from protein. My current protein goal is 144g per day.

35% will come from carbs, current goal 167g and a final 35% will come from fats at a per day goal of 74g.

30%: Protein (144g)

35%: Carbs (167g)

35%: Fat (74g)

I am playing around with my macro percentages to see which combination (low carb or high fat or 40% protein or 25% protein, etc.) works best for my body and performance. When I plan my meals I pick a protein, a carb and a fat (I include fats in all my meals except pre and post-workout). I aim for the same concept when eating away from home whether I am on a day trip around the city or traveling out of state for a race. Adapting a flexible eating plan will take time but starting to at least look at the nutritional value behind what you eat will make fitting in the foods you love that much easier!

MyFitnessPal Tuesday June 21MyFitnessPal Tuesday June 21_2

Tuesday June 21st Macro Breakdown

Carbohydrates (189g): 48%

Fat (42g): 25%

Protein (104g): 26%

The Little Dominican’s Comments:

I really wanted to highlight here how you can adjust your choices to make for a successful flexible eating day. The above comes pretty close to my daily goals so I would change a few key things: For Meal 1 I would add fat to my meal in the form of nuts, nut butter or seeds (considering I was eating yogurt). This will help increase my fat intake for the day and also create a better balance between the other two nutrients. For Meal 3 I would boost my protein intake which could come in the form of chicken breast, ground turkey, an omelet, etc. I could also add a little bit of fat to Meal 3. For Meal 4 I would go for a smaller serving of cherries or knock out the cherries overall. You’ll notice I am over by 22g carbs which over the course of a week will be nothing major but it is a good example of how portion control also plays a part in your nutrition goals. It is not noted in the above but having a general sense of your sugar intake as well is important. Because both cherries and grapes are heavy in natural fruit sugars I could swap one for an orange, grapefruit or berries–fruits lower in natural sugars– to help keep my sugar intake balanced. (Remember, a little extra sugar is okay!)

 

MyFitnessPal Thursday June 23MyFitnessPal Thursday June 23_2

Thursday June 23rd Macro Breakdown

Carbohydrates (155g): 39%

Fat (55g): 31%

Protein (116g): 30%

The Little Dominican’s Comments:

June 23rd is a really good example of how to work in fast food or cravings– the Carne Asada Plato with guac from Dos Toros. I even got away with 2 mini chocolate brownie cookies! I could have definitely included slightly more fat into Meals 1 or 2 but per meal my protein, carbs and fat grams look a bit more similar to one another.

 

MyFitnessPal Tuesday June 28

Thursday June 28th Macro Breakdown

Carbohydrates (137g): 34%

Fat (70g): 39%

Protein (110g): 27%

The Little Dominican’s Comments:

While June 21st at the top was an example of balancing out your meals at the beginning, the above is an example of balancing out your meals at the end of the day as well! A fourth meal here would have allowed me to include more protein into my day, which would have created a little bit more of a balanced profile. Being that I opted for a grilled chicken caesar wrap, my last meal could have been as simple as a piece of steak with veggies and a baked potato or Greek Yogurt with berries and a handful of nuts.


IMG_3664While vacationing and enjoying delicious foods during the summer can feel like a huge endeavor, small changes can amount to a huge change in your nutrition habits over time! I have learned when I have had too much of a slice of cake or if I should just leave off the guacamole for the next time. Knowing I can run the gamut of foods means I no longer panic about having to eat it or try it all NOW.

 

Tell me in the comments below: Have you switched or are you looking to switch to a flexible eating plan? For those of you who currently dealing with or recovering from Restrictive Eating, does a flexible eating plan work or not work for you?

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