24: Your Guide to Sustainable Nutrition with Brooke Simonson

Jul 31, 2023

Are you tired of jumping from one fad diet to another? Do you want a realistic and sustainable approach to nutrition that will transform your lifestyle for the better? 

I recently spoke with Nutrition Coach Brooke Simonson, who shared her wealth of knowledge, personal struggles, and practical tips on how to uplevel your nutrition in a way that is both attainable and maintainable. 

Today, I’m sharing her practical tips for where to start making improvements in your nutrition, along with how to incorporate more protein and fiber into your diet. We also dive into the common struggle of nighttime snacking and how to overcome it. 

Mindset Matters

When you’re first getting started on making sustainable changes to your lifestyle and nutrition, mindset is everything. Brooke recommends two key mindset shifts that will help you overcome resistance at the start of your journey:

  • If it’s fast, it doesn’t last.

If you're playing the long game, it’s going to feel a lot slower and a lot different than what you've tried in the past. This is a mindset hangup that a lot of people have because when you're losing weight in a more healthy, sustainable way, you could be losing a pound a week, or it could be a half pound a week. 

Therefore, it’s important to let go of that diet mentality of seeing big, fast results that don’t last, and realize that the plan you're putting into place is going to stick with you long term. Start to get comfortable with the flow and the steady progress.

  • You don’t have to do everything at once.

With programs like Whole30 or 75 Hard, there is a long list of rules to follow and if you mess up, you have to start over. With this mentality comes a feeling of having to sacrifice everything at once, like carbs, sugar, and processed foods. With sustainable lifestyle change, it’s about implementing one, two, or three small habits each week. 

For example, if you were doing 4,000 steps a day, you could ramp it up to 4,500. If you are not used to having a fruit or vegetable with lunch, you could introduce a fruit or vegetable with your lunch - and those could be the only two things that you start with. 

The change is slow and should not feel overwhelming. People often think if it doesn't feel awful or overwhelming, they're doing something wrong. But actually that's when you're doing it right! We have just been so conditioned by the beliefs of diet culture. 

How to Implement Nutrition Changes Sustainably

We're all pretty self-aware and probably know deep down which areas we’re lacking in, whether it’s water consumption, or how many vegetables we have. It’s the execution part that's hard.

So for example, if you struggle with eating enough fruit and vegetables, just start with adding a vegetable to one meal. You could put a reminder into your calendar every 10 days to pause and add a new habit or tweak the habit you've been working on. And so if you've been adding it to lunch and that feels good, you could then try introducing a fruit or vegetable at breakfast, and do that again for 10 days. And suddenly, after 20 days, you're already introducing a fruit or vegetable two times in your day that you weren't prior to that. It really comes down to listening to your body with regard to the area you feel you need to work on, and then staying consistent.

Increase Protein Intake

If you think you’re not eating enough protein, you do not need to completely overhaul all of your recipes and meals and create new ones because that is far too stressful.

Instead, you can simply look at what you're already eating and then ask yourself if you could double the protein in that meal? So, for example, if your family loves pasta and you have a little bit of chicken in the pasta, could you double the amount of chicken in that recipe? Or could you add something like Greek yogurt?

Ask yourself if you can make the protein really shine bright as the star of your plate. Even if you are having pasta, the protein becomes more of the focus, and the pasta is more of the side dish rather than the main event.

Tracking doesn’t work for everyone, but it can be helpful, even if it’s just on pen and paper, to start tracking protein intake (not calories!) to see where you're falling in the day.

If you can always focus on what to add rather than what to cut out or restrict, everything changes and life is so much better when you're not trying to avoid things!

Nighttime snacking

Often nighttime snacking happens when you're not eating enough during the day. That could be that you're not eating enough calories, or you're not eating enough of the calories that are going to help you feel full (like protein and fiber). Jot down on a post-it how much protein and fiber you're getting per day and work to ramp it up. If you’re just getting 5 grams of fiber, that’s not going to fill you up as much as 20 or 25 grams.

People often blame themselves or feel bad or wrong if they're hungry at night, but you might just actually be hungry. And so it's amazing what can happen if you start to eat more nutrient dense foods during the day. The snacks can just disappear. 

If you are intermittent fasting and cutting out breakfast, this can also lead to hunger later at night. So really take a look at your eating patterns earlier in the day to see if that helps.

Increasing fiber

If you realize you get a bit gassy and have stomach distress after eating fiber, it doesn't necessarily mean your body hates fiber, it's just not used to it. So you could start slowly introducing fiber into your day. If you are eating whole grains, broccoli, beans, and a higher fiber bread all at once, it could be too much for your body at once. But your body will tell you. Use that data to adjust portion sizes and slowly build it up.

Try to incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables. Depending on your budget and accessibility, it could be in cans, it could be frozen - it certainly doesn't have to be fresh and organic from the farmer's market. One nutritional change you could make is just adding a little handful of a fruit or a vegetable to most meals and snacks.

More about Brooke

Brooke Simonson is a Certified Nutrition Coach specializing in sustainable weight loss. Unlike restrictive, one-size-fits-all diets and programs that only provide short-term results, Brooke helps her clients adopt evidence-based nutrition & lifestyle habits that work for their unique likes, dislikes, and time constraints so they can lose weight permanently, have high energy throughout the day, feel completely in control of cravings, and stay consistent long-term!

Connect with Brooke

Visit her website

Listen to The Health Investment Podcast

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