3 Nutrition Habits for Success Without Giving Up the Foods You Love




Darlene Calderone - Behaviour Change Specialist, Nutrition & Wellness Coach, Personal and Group Fitness Trainer on Cyno



Consider for a moment, that it’s possible to eat the foods you love. That you don’t have to quit another diet. Or do anything crazy. That there’s actually a balance that exists between eating healthy and indulging. Now consider that you also live in this magical land, and you are healthy. Feeling great. You have energy. You feel fulfilled. You feel in control.

Right now you might not feel in control. Food you once loved feels out of bounds. Healthy living seems out of reach. Mixed messages are all over the place. Dieting is hard, and makes you miserable, and now that food that you’re told to avoid doesn’t make you happy anymore.

I don’t want you to ever feel miserable eating a food you once loved.

Now consider that three habits, when integrated into your routine can actually help you get there for real. That magic isn’t magic at all. It does exist. You can even learn how to enjoy both worlds and grow to love those ‘healthy’ habits that you used to frown upon, because they won’t mean that you can’t have the foods you love anymore, you don’t have to miss out. They will mean that you can have the other foods too.

Now that’s really powerful.




HABIT ONE: Eat more whole foods first to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients.

A lack of nutrients can interfere with the body and mind. We humans are healthier when we consume more whole foods than refined and processed ones. No matter what diet or eating style you are on, successful and healthy people share one same concept.

Eating more minimally processed whole foods.

Whole foods typically include:

  • ​​fresh vegetables

  • fresh fruits

  • fresh meats and poultry

  • fresh fish and seafood

  • nuts and seeds

  • beans and lentils

  • whole intact grains

  • minimally processed dairy (e.g., fresh plain yogurt)


How to practice this habit:

  • First bite off your plate is veggies (whatever food you’re working on consuming more)

  • Decide which meal you will focus on practising with and stick to that for at least two weeks before adding the next one.


TIP #1 Keep it simple

If you know you’re missing out on eating vegetables, make a point to find one that you like that is easy to prepare. Do the same for proteins, carbohydrates, fats.

TIP #2 No need to change everything at once.

Simply add more whole foods to meals, leave the rest unchanged for now.



HABIT TWO: Aim for 70-80% of your food choices targeting your wellness goal

Leave some room for fun, for events, for things you can’t imagine living your life without. This doesn’t mean you have to go on a diet, it just means you’re thinking about eating enough of the foods aligned with your goal.

How to practice this habit:

  • When you’re plating your meals / snacks, ask yourself if the plate your building reflects the lifestyle you want to lead, and if it’s bringing you closer to your goal.

  • Meal planning before you hit the grocery store

  • Prepping some of the foods you know can help you reach your goals in advance

TIP #1 Take a look at the week ahead.

Are you planning on going somewhere you know you’ll indulge? That’s something to look forward to and feel good about, and the rest of the time, eat towards your health and fitness goal, which is another thing to feel good about!

P.S. Leave a bit of wiggle room for that spur of the moment ice cream.

TIP #2 Break it down

17 out of your 20 meals are your “nutritional support meals.” or you can call them whatever you please, these ones are either just a little bit better, or totally on point. They align with your goals, values, and the healthy lifestyle you want to lead.

TIP #3 Remember where you’re at right now.

A complete overhaul of your current eating habits overnight isn’t sustainable. It’s way easier to work up to this point.




HABIT THREE: Reframe thinking around food.

There are no “bad foods”, and you’re not a “bad person” or doing “bad things” in the moments you’re eating. Instead of cheats / treats - think of foods being more nutrient dense / less nutrient dense.* Of course, some foods are for sure more health-promoting than others, but rest assured the easiest way to eat more of something is to label it “off limits”.

Instead let’s look at food on a spectrum or compass to help guide your food choices in a real way.

Look at foods on an “eat more” to “eat some” to “eat less” spectrum (instead of “approved” and “off-limits”). The purpose is to build awareness about which foods work best for you, and which ones don’t so you can make informed decisions for yourself, and take the focus away from all or nothing.

  • “eat more” would mean you prioritise + include foods that are higher quality, closer to whole foods (minimally processed). These foods should leave your body / mind feeling good. ⁠


  • “eat some” usually means these foods are somewhat processed - They likely still offer quite a bit of nutritional value naturally or are fortified with nutrients, and you may even eat most of your meals and snacks out of this category.


  • “eat less” foods are those that you choose to eat minimally, or are choosing not to eat most of the time. Usually these are highly processed foods, and are likely to be the least nutrient dense, but they can also be foods that don’t work for you right now (even broccoli, because maybe you can’t stand it) These can also be foods that you absolutely love, but know your overall health would do better having less frequently.

*Of course, there are foods just may not be safe for you as an individual to ingest or cause discomfort. These are also called red light foods. For some there are medical concerns such as allergens, chronic conditions and disease to consider. Please follow the advice of your healthcare + medical professionals for managing these foods and conditions.

How to practice this habit:

  • Create your own spectrum of foods to better understand the “eat more” foods you like, the “eat some” foods you want to incorporate and the “eat less” foods you find are worth indulging in.

  • Remember those first two habits on this post, this will help you get there with less work!

  • When you do indulge, be in the moment with that food - even if it’s just for that first bite, and be present for it.

TIP #1 Talk to your family, roommate, co-workers / ask for support.

The people around you generally want you to succeed. Remember that they won’t know what you’re planning unless you share your plans. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, a simple convo that says something along the lines of…

“Hey, I’m trying to do a little bit better with my health, I’m excited about it because it means I can be a better human / parent / partner / friend / goal etc. I just wanted you to know that this is where I’m headed.Can I count on your support?”

TIP #2 You can count on a Coach for support, guidance and accountability.

My clients receive a handy, visual food guide to give them better ideas on how they can personalise it for themselves. They're designed to help you make healthier choices, no matter their knowledge of nutrition or what point they are at in their wellness path.The best part? I help uncover how nothing is off limits and how and this system is adaptable to any lifestyle, at any point in life.

Healthy habits are more important now than ever. Healthy living is more than nutrition. It’s mindset, self awareness, stress management, recovery, and designing better habits + routines around your goals values for a better life. That’s why I offer a 360 degree approach to wellness that includes nutrition, movement, sleep, stress, and behaviour change. It can feel like a lot, especially when you’re a busy professional, but you don’t have to do it alone. Want coaching, accountability and support on your wellness goals and learn how to enjoy the process too? Book a Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaching session with me here on Cyno!

Darlene Calderone - Behaviour Change Specialist, Nutrition & Wellness Coach, Personal and Group Fitness Trainer on Cyno

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