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The Art of Movement Edition 61: Nutrition - How To Find Your Diet For Life

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Edition 61: Nutrition - How To Find Your Diet For Life

Earlier this week I posted a few pictures of the type of foods that make up the majority of my diet. This wasn’t supposed to be a ‘be more like me’ post, but what I hope came across as more of an insight into my personal habits, what works for me and what my personal (non-professional) perspective on nutrition is. Far be it from me to prescribe to people what they should or shouldn’t be eating (my diet is SO FAR from perfect), there are still some basic things we can be doing to maintain a healthy and holistic diet which can serve us for life.

In today’s newsletter I will elaborate a little bit on some of the points I made on instagram, and talk a little bit about my WHY with regards to diet.

The Diet For Life

I believe a diet you can keep for life is the way to go, and it looks different for everyone. It is all about understanding the sheer magnitude of the lies and uncertainty that society has been ‘fed’ regarding food over history, and finding a solution that works for you, as best as possible, based on what we actually know (so far). It is about finding something you never have to deviate from. You will be required to examine your current eating and drinking habits, and if you can’t see yourself maintaining the rest of your life? Stop and re-think.

Maybe your diet is currently too extreme towards the ‘restrict’ end of the spectrum and you aren’t allowing yourself to eat the foods you love, or foods that you *think* might cause you to gain weight. Or perhaps you are at the ‘binge’ end of the spectrum, and you know that your current behaviours are not sustainable for your long term health, and at some point you will need to do something about that (which quite predictably, means jumping to ‘restrict’).

Itemise Your ‘Must Haves’

The only possible outcome if you choose a diet you cannot maintain (binge or restrict), is you spend the rest of your life switching from one to the other by default, from one bright idea to the next. Take your time, think long and hard about it, and construct your ‘diet for life’. It will be worth it! If a tasty dessert is something you’d be happy to give up for a 3 month ‘detox’ but not for life - guess what? - you’re not giving it up! You need to include desserts in your diet for life. And maybe just once or twice per week rather than five or six times. If pizza is your absolute favourite food and you guilt trip yourself into denying it so you can ‘feel good about yourself’ on holiday - guess what? - you will most likely return from holiday still not feeling good about yourself whether you ate pizza or not. Your diet for life must include pizza if you love it. This could be for example, ordering takeaway pizza with your partner once per month (my wife and I do this).

So you are going to consider the foods in your life you don’t want to live without, and consider the quantities you currently consume them in (perhaps during a binge phase, vs. Restrict phase), then find yourself a happy, healthy sounding medium. You should also consider alcohol here - whether you could give it up completely, or need to find a system for monitoring consumption (I track 3 things - drink free days, ‘3 drinks or less’ days, and ‘4 drinks or more’ days).

Nail Down Your Timings

Your body is a finely tuned machine, which responds to acute changes in environment, stress and nutrients in many different ways. The best thing you can do with regards to food, is be consistent (ideally with a balanced diet, not a shitty one), and this definitely pertains to the times at which you consume food. It is extremely confusing for your body if some days you have breakfast and on some random days you don’t, on some evenings you eat snacks late at night, or have a very late dinner, or sometimes you skip lunch and wait til the evening to eat because ‘work comes first’.

I personally used to be a ‘grazer’. I would have breakfast quite early, then had a defined lunch time and dinner time, but lots of snacks in between then, as well as eating late. Since using intermittent fasting more permanently, I now have a clear 9-hour window everyday where I consume my calories, and don’t eat outside of that - bear in mind this just happens to work for me. I begin eating between 10-11am (consuming water and coffee until then), and I stop eating around 8pm (sometimes this can drag to 8 30-9pm), but this almost always means I spend about 14-15 hours fasted every day. This very rough intermittent fasting guideline (I am not so strict with it that I can’t deviate 1 or 2 days per week to actually enjoy life properly) has given my body the timing structure it so badly needed, and this provides a platform for your body to regulate hormone release.

Create Your Healthy Staples

Repetitive eating is a turn-off for most people. The idea of eating the same thing all the time doesn’t get the dopamine flowing, so dealing with avoiding boredom but retaining consistency with healthy eating is so important. I always break my fast with the same delicious breakfast most weekdays that I personally enjoy, and have been eating for pretty much 10 years now. On 4 days of the week (usually work days), I start with:

  • Big bowl of fruit/nut muesli (10 years ago granola but this was way too sugary)

  • Almond milk

  • Blueberries and raspberries

  • Alpro yogurt (Cherry or Blueberry for me)

  • Drizzle of honey

This always goes down a treat for me (yes, I have a sweet tooth), and as discussed with repetitive eating, only doing this 4 days a week means it is staple enough for me to not even have to think about my breakfast prep in the week (it is the same every time), and also means that 3 days of the week I am looking forward to some kind of tasty breakfast with my wife. This ties in ‘social eating’ for me, and makes these meals really enjoyable. We might have cheese eggs on toast (our favourite), or go out for veggie brunch on the weekend, with coffee and juice (or maybe even a Bloody Mary) or have a fake bacon ‘facon’ sandwich and a smoothie at home.

Either way, my body knows almost exactly what to expect every week in terms of what I consume and when I consume it. I try to make sure there is a good balance of macronutrients to each meal, especially seeking high quantities of protein (that is usually the hardest to get), and ensure sensible portion sizes on a normal sized plate. I try to eat whole foods and natural foods that are minimally processed. I also listen to my body while I am eating and leave food on my plate if I am feeling full (my wife is also good at pausing for a couple of minutes during a meal to savour it, and be in touch with how full she may or may not be - this is called mindful eating) rather than wolf it down.

And yeah - not all of this stuff works for me all the time, and that is ok! Remember the 80-20 rule. If I can keep my diet looking that way about 80% of the time, then honestly, I really really don’t think twice when I reach for a bit of chocolate in the evening, or snack on a handful of crisps twice per week, or have a couple of days where I drink alcohol. Think about what gives you pleasure and vibe with it! Allocate space and time for it in your life so you are not depriving yourself.

Here are some final tips to summarise:

Eat a variety of foods: Eating a variety of foods ensures that you are getting all the essential nutrients your body needs. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet.

Portion control: Monitoring portion sizes can help prevent overeating and weight gain. Use smaller plates and avoid super-sized portions.

Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated is important for maintaining overall health. Aim to drink 3L of fluids a day.

Limit processed and sugary foods: Processed and sugary foods can be high in calories and low in nutrients. Limit these foods in your diet to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Cook at home: Cooking at home allows you to control the ingredients and portions of your meals. This can help you make healthier choices and save money.

Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness signals. Eating slowly and savoring your food can help you feel satisfied and prevent overeating.

Plan ahead: Plan your meals and snacks in advance to avoid making impulsive and unhealthy food choices.

Seek support: Enlist the support of family and friends to help you maintain a healthy diet. Joining a support group or working with a registered dietitian can also be helpful. Remember that a healthy diet is a long-term commitment. By making these changes to your eating habits, you can achieve and maintain a healthy diet for a lifetime.

“Your diet is a bank account, good food choices are good investments”

Movement of the Week: Overhead Squat

3 x 5 reps

That’s all for this week! Check out my Patreon channel for video episodes, on-demand workouts, training programmes, training guidance/advice and more!

Thank you, Gabriel

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