For those who read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, came a better understanding that the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and the inattention to results are five separate issues that potentially lead to dangerous pitfalls inside a company. Working on these particular dysfunctions can create a successful group of people cohesively working together towards a vision. For example, if trust isn’t present within a group then individuals will only look out for themselves versus what’s best for the team. (If you haven’t read the book then I would highly recommend it.) Anyways, I’m going to take this same concept but apply it to the diet world of today. I’m sure there could be more than five essential pieces to the diet puzzle; but without these five components, expect a part of your diet to be slightly dysfunctional:
ABSENCE OF PLANTS. I’m not saying for everyone to turn towards a vegan lifestyle, but without enough vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds then one will likely miss out on essential micronutrients, antioxidants, hydration and fiber. According to a 2009 Position Paper by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, those that are more vegetarian tend to have a lower BMI, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, lower rates of cancer, and better prevention of Type II Diabetes. Of course, one still needs to consume enough protein and essential fatty acids; but if plants aren’t a focal point, accept feeling sluggish, gastrointestinal irregularity, poor fitness recovery and higher susceptibility for catching an illness.
LACK OF VARIETY. Want to eat the same thing every day because it works? More and more research supports that consuming large amounts of added sugar, on a consistent basis, can be addictive. Our dopamine – a feel good hormone – tends to level off and one will need more sugar in order to get the same “feel good” response. Studies show this same response happens if we eat the same foods day after day. This explains the boredom we get from grilled chicken or steamed broccoli. Time to jazz things up! Incorporate different textures, spices, herbs and new foods into your weekly meal plan. In order to keep the cooking motivation at a high, try to get as much variety into your day without feeling overwhelmed.
MISPERCEPTION OF PORTIONS. I could have used the word quantity, instead I chose portion control because there are some foods (e.g., spinach) that we can use in large amounts while others can give us what we need in smaller portions (e.g., eggs). To put this into perspective, one doesn’t need to drown their sauté pan with olive oil, but I’d highly recommend throwing in as many bell peppers as you wish. It makes sense to load up on salad greens, but use cheese as a flavor enhancer—not the star of the show. Of course some things must be individualized so consider that when thinking of what works for you and your personal needs (e.g., someone receiving chemotherapy treatment will need more protein compared to someone that isn’t experiencing as much stress on their system).
AVOIDANCE OF WATER, COFFEE AND TEA. Keep it simple. Lots of water. Unsweetened coffee—I would avoid going over three cups of coffee per day. Unsweetened tea.
INATTENTION TO QUALITY. Quality foods make a difference. I’m sure some of you can tell the difference when produce is purchased from a local farmer’s market. It smells better, tastes better and is better for you. A few ways to keep quality as high as possible: choose more local (within 100 miles), aim for seasonal foods and do your research—just because something is labeled “Organic” doesn’t mean it is a wise decision.
When these dysfunctions are changed or modified in a positive direction, one will notice their healthy goals become healthy realities. It is all about behavior change. Perhaps the fitness becomes easier and the motivation to move is greater. Perhaps the scale moves in a downward direction because portion control was improved. Whatever changes need to happen, take a helicopter view of your eating habits; ask yourself if there is a dysfunction within your diet. If I had to pick one dysfunction to start changing, I would choose “Misperception of Portions.” Most of us could choose at a food that needs a little adjustment. Start there and have fun with the process!
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