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5 Great Food Habits to Help Your Clients

As a Personal Trainer, you may sometimes wonder where to begin getting your clients on track… 

While we may be armed with loads of helpful information for our clients, it’s important not to bombard them with too much information. Things take time and some old habits may take a while to shed.

It may be useful to hand your clients a list of Top 5 (or top 10) Tips, to get them started.

There are many unhealthy habits surrounding food and eating, such as not sitting down to eatbeing preoccupied with other things rather than focussing on what we are eating or not allowing enough time to enjoy a relaxing meal.

Here are our Top 5 favourite Good Food Habits, which we believe are straightforward enough to implement from the start.

1. Are you eating slowly?

This is a biggie for most clients.

Most people really enjoy eating. Therefore, it makes sense that the more slowly you eat, the more enjoyable it will be.


The longer you take to eat a meal, the more likely you are to leave some food on your plate. On average it takes 20 minutes for the satiety hormones in your body to kick in and for your brain to recognise you’ve been fed. So set aside at least this amount of time to enjoy your meal.

If you eat quickly, ask yourself, “Why do I eat so fast?” And then think about a simple solution. For example, perhaps you eat quickly, because you don’t like your food getting cold. One solution to this would be to preheat your plate to keep your food warm for longer.

When you are not focusing on your eating, it is more likely you will eat quickly.

So avoid eating on the go. It’s surprising how many people still eat whilst driving (apart from the fact its illegal, how can you possibly be mindful of what you are eating at the same time as concentrating on the road?).

Also, the digestive system functions much better when your body is relaxed, another reason to avoid eating while you are also doing other things.

Leave your work desk at lunchtimes and eat elsewhere. Apart from anything, eating at your desk is unhygienic. Plus, getting away from your desk will help refresh you for the afternoon. If we stay at our desk to eat, we are less likely to take a reasonable amount of time to enjoy our food “Well, I may aswell get back to my work, seeing as it’s right here.” Also, our desk is very likely to be full of distractions, like social media, so mindful, relaxed eating is unlikely to happen here.

Eat your food at the table where there are few distractions. Turn the TV off if it’s in the same room.

Useful hints and tips to eating more slowly

  • Use smaller utensils. E.g. a teaspoon instead of a dessert spoon works wonders
  • Put down your utensils between each mouthful
  • Use a medium sized plate for your main meal, instead of a large plate, to aid portion control
  • Set a number of chews for each bite – doesnt work for everyone, but give it a go! Start low and work your way up to 25
  • Play slow, relaxing music during your meal, to encourage a slower pace of eating
  • Banish distracting technology from the table e.g. mobile phones, iPad
  • At dinner time, set a nice relaxing environment to help you savour the experience. e.g. soft lighting or candlelight
  • Warm up your plate to keep food hot for longer

2. Where is the protein dense food?

Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat eater, you should aim to up your protein intake, especially when you’re exercising.

Women should aim for 1 palm-sized portion of protein dense food per meal, men should aim for 2.

Protein is more filling than any other food type and it has a higher thermic effect, which means that your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does when digesting carbohydrate or fat. (1)

Here are 10 foods rich in protein:

• Turkey or chicken breast
• Fish – e.g. tuna, salmon
• Cheese – low fat if you’re watching your fat intake.
• Pork loin chops
• Lean Beef
• Tofu
• Beans – kidney, white, black, mung
• Eggs
• Yogurt and Milk
• Nuts and Seeds – peanuts, almonds pistachios, sunflower, flax

When protein is lacking in the diet a protein supplement may be taken. Ideally, this should be in the form of a high quality milk based protein such as whey protein. However if you’re lactose intolerant you may need to look at a ultra low lactose variety or even a different protein altogether; something like a pea or rice protein.

Protein recovery drinks, taken after training are ideal for clients looking to increase muscle mass and size.

3. Where are the veggies?

Vegetables will provide your body with the various vitamins, minerals and fibre it needs to function properly.

Are you about to eat a large portion of veggies? They can be prepared any way you like. One serving is about 1 fist-sized portion and you should try to eat a few portions per meal. Even breakfast time can provide an opportunity for getting some veg. Mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, onions work great in an omelette, quiche, pancake or hash. These might not sound appetising to everyone first thing in the morning, but once they are cooked they really are not difficult to eat! Experiment to find some that you are okay with, don’t just rule them out.

4. Where are the carbs?

If you have fat to lose but haven’t just worked out, eat less pasta, bread, rice, and other starchy carbs. Opt for a double serving of veggies instead. If you have just worked out, a mix of carb sources is fine. Carbohydrates cause your body to release insulin and this inhibits important fat burning hormones. In the hour or so after you finish your workout, your body has increased insulin sensitivity and this means that your body can handle starchy carbohydrates better at this time. (2)

5. Where are your fats coming from?

These days, you need fats from various foods, so prioritise whole food sources like eggs, meats, fish, olives, nuts and seeds. Fat along with protein is a very satiating food type, therefore consuming enough natural fats will help keep you satisfied. Fats to avoid are called trans fats and these are often found in baked goods. Avoid these artery damaging trans fats like the plague!

Feel free to share / adapt this content and pass it on to your clients

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1. Berardi, J., Andrews., R. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. 2012;105-106

2. Berardi, J., Andrews., R. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. 2012;148 

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