The 50 Foods Challenge
In all my years experience of helping people make changes to what they eat and how they eat, most clients have intuitively known the type of foods that are healthful and those that are not. But knowing what to do and doing it is often poles apart.
And whilst a certain element of my coaching is still around working out a good food fit for individuals in order to meet their specific goals, much is left to do in terms of motivating clients to action.
50 Foods 7 Days
I came across this idea for a 7 day challenge after researching gut health. It's the invention of nutrition expert Miguel Toribio-Mateas who was writing about the benefits of supporting gut health with functional foods. There's a mass of research highlighting the importance of a healthy gut to not only the digestive system but that it also affects things like energy, mood, metabolism and the immune system to name but a few. Around 80% of the immune system is located in the gut so the healthier we can make it the better.
The aim of the game is diet diversity. Diversity in the type of foods that will feed the gut bugs and lead to a healthy balance of bacteria that makes up our gut microbiome. I've been delving into this a bit anyway, having daily kefir milk, kombucha and natural live yogurt as probiotics and eating foods that are known as prebiotics (like putting fertiliser in your garden. Foods like garlic, leeks, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, oats etc. But Miguel Toribio-Mataes goes a bit further and explains how starting with a wide variety of bright and colourful food, mainly plant based, can help to boost the gut.
Win or lose?
Not one to pass up a challenge, I decided to give it a try. Monday was a breeze and I managed a fantastic 20 different foods and a great range of veg. Tuesday was not too bad either but I realised that my staple daily salad stuff couldn't be counted again. The theme continued on a downward trend with less and less different items being added each day so that by the time it came to Thursday, panic set in. I consider myself a healthy eater, with a good range of foods in my dietary repetoire but as the week rolled on I limped closer to Sunday and crawled towards the magic 50. It was like starting a marathon thinking you'll break the 3 hours and stumbling over the finish line at 5 hours 30 minutes.
Throughout the week, I battled with the need to eat some of the leftover salad stuff and veg from Monday and Tuesday versus rush out and buy some different items in order to meet the challenge. In the end, I had to make some soup with the leftover veg, freeze it for the following week and buy some new stuff. Once I got over that hurdle, I have to say I really enjoyed this challenge. I loved having the chart to complete, that tool alone challenged and motivated me - without it, I still would have been eating healthily but not with the diversity. I'm not a believer in writing down every bite I eat, every day but a bit of a challenge and discipline keeps us on the right path. the 50 Foods chart can be a good tool to help bridge the gap between knowing what to do, and actually doing it. It will definately be something I'll be happy to recommend for clients.
If you want to give it a try, pop me an email and I'll send you a copy of the challenge sheet and as a bonus, I'll send you a copy of my Eat a Rainbow Factsheet.