I can be a food hypocrite. Intellectually I know which foods would be good choices to fuel my daily activities. My brain is aware that simple carbohydrates are poor food choices, but this knowledge doesn’t always translate into a healthy diet.

I can begin the day fully committed to eating paleo or forgoing sugar, but by the evening my kitchen betrays me with piles of tattletale dishes. The mixer bowl is dirty from a spontaneous batch of banana bread. Mac and cheese boxes lie in the recycling bin. Cookie sheets still have crumbs on them from snickerdoodles, and here is where we cue Brittany Spears’ “Oops, I did it again” ballad. Oops. I ate all the junk.

The good news for food hypocrites like me is that there is hope to change our behaviors. We can learn to balance our calories and make better food choices for our body. But where do we start? So many conflicting ideas and diets fight for our allegiance; we don’t know which one is best.

Coach Beth Hoppe—“Ma” to many in the gym—is familiar with how to triumph in the nutrition battle. Here, she shares her top three tips to use food as fuel and to make sure your body is getting the full nutrition it needs.

1) Log your food

Knowing exactly what you are putting into your mouth and how much of it is crucial to consistent, quality nutrition. Writing down what you eat is important to help your brain register the calories that fueled your day. It is too easy to pop a few potato chips or a “fun size” candy bar, and before you know it you’ve accumulated the equivalent of a small meal comprised of empty calories. Keeping a comprehensive food journal of what you eat—either on paper or in an app like MyFitnesspal.com is helpful to track where your nutritional weak points are. Write down what goes down for accountability.

2) Meal Prep and stick to it

It’s one thing to know what is going in your mouth when you’re eating it, but it’s a completely separate thing to plan what is going to go in your mouth ahead of time. This is the magic of meal planning and prep. Plan meals that include whole foods or at least minimally processed items. Stick to meals or foods that have five ingredients or less. This is a good rule of thumb to help you consume nutritious items. Think, high quality meat, vegetables, nuts, fruits. Of course, drink lots of water. Plan your meals and prep them when you have time so that you’ll have good food choices when you are short on time and hungry.

3) Keep healthy snacks on hand

If we aren’t careful, snacking can add up to a large percentage of daily calories. Prepping healthy snacks is therefore important to consistent nutrition. Carefully plan your meals and snacks for health, but then you must do the prep work to make sure that you stick to the plan. Cut vegetables like carrots and broccoli on the weekends and keep them in the fridge, handy for when you feel like nibbling. Make sure you have quality sources of fruit and protein to fuel your body through those long stretches in the morning and afternoon, and just say “no” to cookies.

Ma believes that the occasional food splurge is essential to living life to the fullest, but the key is to keep quality nutrition consistent so that those spontaneous batches of banana bread don’t completely derail your balanced diet.

By writing a comprehensive food journal, planning healthy meals and prepping them and keeping healthy snacks on hand, any food hypocrite can be converted into a food hero.

Progressive Fitness CrossFit is a total-health gym. We are committed to helping our athletes not only succeed inside the box but outside the box–in real life, where fitness truly matters.

Coach Beth Hoppe regularly runs discussion-based nutritional classes and accountability groups, and she would love to help you get your food back on track for consistent nutrition. Contact us here; we can’t wait to see how we can help bump your health to the next level.