How to eat healthy when you’re not training

The question “how to eat healthy” is one that is quite hard to answer precisely nowadays. To be honest, eating healthy is easier when you’re training regularly and in need of proper fuel.

However, when you’re stuck at home, like in quarantine or lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, it can be really easy to fall into bad eating habits. When you’re stuck at home and not active you should actually be eating cleaner than at any other period. 

How to eat healthy, salad | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

7 Tips For Eating Healthy

So, how can you improve your eating habits while you’re stuck at home? If you come to think about it, this is the perfect time to dial in your diet and create some sustainable eating habits. 

Sustainability is the key here! The one reason why people fail with diet plans is that they choose diets that are too hard to follow in the long run.

If you want to discover how to eat healthy for life, the answer is to keep things simple. Any radical changes are going to make you return to a more lazy eating lifestyle in no time. Instead, build habits that you can sustain and you can’t go wrong.

Macronutrients, planing healthy meals | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

  • Balance 

Whatever diet system or nutrition plan you choose, it has to start with balance. If your macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) aren’t balanced, you won’t be able to keep up with the regimen for long. 

Callout Box: Healthy means making you feel great first, and helping you perform or look good second.

When it comes to balance, you need to make sure you include protein, carbohydrates, and fats in every meal. And yes, that means keto and all that nonsense should take a break. If you want something you can do for life, you need to eat balanced. 

Moreover, forget about weighing how many grams of what you’re eating. Instead, focus on getting some good quality nutrients and you’ll do just fine on any protocol.

  • Food choices

This is where things get tricky. A lot of times, food choices depend on the diet you’re following. Grapplers usually follow a bodybuilding type diet, with lots of protein and carbs, until they need to cut weight. Another common diet for grapplers is paleo, keto, or anything Joe Rogan is experimenting with. 

Most diets work, don’t get me wrong. The trick though is the food choices you make.

And no, you don’t have to do all your shopping in the organic section of the supermarket! Instead, find a farmers market, find a local butcher, find a fishmonger.  That way, you’ll get good quality meat, fish, eggs and produce every time you shop. Needless to say, stay away from anything that comes in a box or plastic bag, and don’t overthink how to eat healthily.

Farmers market, healthy eating | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

  • Eating frequency

When you’re stuck at home, this is going to be the most important thing. Even if you eat as healthy as humanly possible, it is easy to overeat. Our bodies need energy for day to day functions like getting up and walking, but apart from this maintenance level, anything surplus gets stored as fat.

When you’re at home with next to no training, it is easy to go over maintenance level. That’s why adopting any kind of intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating strategy will make things easier and much more enjoyable. 

What that means is that you need to eat all your food within a given time period, let’s say 8 hours, In the remaining 16 hours, you only drink water. You can set this up in a bunch of different ways, but it will definitely help with staying in shape.

Sweet potato, eating well | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

  • Listen to your body

There’s no better way of knowing how big your portions should be than listening to your body. The trick here is to know when you’re full. Portion control is not something you can predetermine. Well, not sustainably anyway. 

So, whenever you sit down, make sure you eat slowly and stop when you’re not hungry anymore. There’s no need to eat everything that’s on your plate, that does not equal eating healthy.

Try to eat mindfully – avoid eating while watching TV as it is easier to not recognize when you are full if you are not paying attention to your meal.

Moreover, if there’s something that you’re craving (healthy food choices only), give in. Listen to your body’s desires and satisfy them. So what if your meal plan didn’t have potatoes today? Bake a sweet potato and have some healthy comfort food. You’re stuck at home as it is. 

Healthy foods | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

  • Shop smart

This one is huge. I already mentioned swapping supermarkets for farmers markets. However, a supermarket will do, if you’re smart about it. Try to do your shopping twice a week, so that you can keep a stock of fresh foods without worrying about them going bad. Suddenly, eating healthy is much less of a riddle, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that you’ll need a lot of self-restraint. However, it is much easier not to buy stuff that doesn’t fit your diet than having to exercise self-control with that box of cookies in your pantry. So, when you’re out shopping, what you don’t buy matters as much as what you bring home. 

  • Read up on nutrition

You’re stuck at home anyway and are going to be in front of a screen most of the time so this is a great time to learn how to eat healthy by reading articles or watching videos online. There are some great documentaries out there that can really help you get a better grasp on eating healthy. Look for things that will help you determine a long term healthy lifestyle, and start experimenting while you’re stuck in the house.  

Preparing healthy meal | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

  • Learn to Cook

Speaking of experimenting, there’s no better time than a viral outbreak for you to brush up on your cooking skills. Learn not just how to eat healthily, but how to prepare your own meals as well. 

As an added bonus, cooking is a great way to pass the time. Plus, you can learn how to meal prep for when you return to your busy schedule and everyday training.

A few challenges to help you stay away from certain foods while you’re not exercising

The most important thing in dieting is the foods you stay away from. When we’re training, this may not be such a big deal. The occasional ice cream or pizza is easy to sneak in when you’re active. When you can’t leave the house, though, it is too easy to binge on the bad stuff and forget about healthy options. 

So, to make sure you stay on track, here are a few challenges to help you deal with food choices that will sabotage your diet.

Sugar fee challenge | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

Challenge 1: Go sugar-free

This is easy. Just like I mentioned before, that doesn’t mean going with zero carbohydrates. Nor does it mean you can’t taste anything sweet ever again. The idea here is to cut out processed sugar. That means added sugar in every possible form apart from natural ones. Dry fruits, honey, and maple syrup are perfect options to have in your cupboard. After all, we all need to satisfy a sweet tooth from time to time.

However, all the “healthy” brown or palm sugar versions need to go out the window, along with white sugar. It should go without saying, but all sugary drinks fall in this category as well. Also scrutinize “healthy” options like granolas, cereals, and bars because they’re often loaded with hidden sugars.

Plant-based food challenge | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

Challenge 2: Go plant-based

This might not make much sense, but I’d recommend you try it. There’s nothing wrong with giving your body a bit of time to recover while you’re at home. Skipping meat, red meat, in particular, is going to do wonders for your gut health. Also, given how chickens are raised, you might be well advised to stay away from it too. While you’re at it, why not try cutting fish out too?

Doing a plant-based diet for a few weeks will introduce you to a completely new palette of flavors. Plus, figuring out how to eat healthily becomes much easier when you base your meals on fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, and dairy products. It is actually a challenge I am currently undertaking myself while in isolation.

Challenge 3: Exclude all processed food

This might just turn out to be tougher than you might think. Going all raw would be an upgrade, but I doubt it is sustainable in the long run, particularly when you get back to training. In other words, do not go overboard but do try and minimize processed foods.

This means cutting out most things that have undergone an industrial process of any kind. However, since you’re not about to start making your own flour and baking your own bread, you could opt for less processed versions of food first.

If you’re eating meat, forget about bacon, pepperoni, pastrami, and the likes. Nothing but clean cuts of meat for you until quarantine is lifted.

Finally, all gravies, sauces, and the like go straight to the bin as well. Make your own, or find a way to introduce more spices into your meal plan.

Pineapple and coconut, healthy food choices | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

Challenge 4: Try the Gracie Diet

This is a very BJJ thing to do. The Gracie diet often gets a bad name, due to the food groups that make it a bit complicated. Well, it is not. It is actually a great way to learn how to eat healthily. The diet works by dividing healthy food options into groups. There are rules on which groups go together, and which ones shouldn’t be mixed.

It takes about two weeks to get the hang of it. Moreover, there is a progression built into the diet that will help you adjust. You start as a white belt and introduce more healthy eating habits as you progress to a black belt level in healthy eating. After you learn how to eat healthy, you can abandon the diet altogether. You’ll learn valuable and sustainable lessons, though.

Summary

How to eat healthy is not rocket science. Just like in Jiu Jitsu, it is all about the basics. Keep things simple, experiment, and figure out what you like and what’s not a good fit for you. Eating healthy does not mean doing a diet just so you can come off it and eat whatever you like. Ideally dieting means figuring out a nutritional lifestyle that you can follow for years to come.