How to Coach Nutrition Better, Part 1

Over the last several weeks we’ve laid out plans for how to better coach three of the four pillars of the SEMM Model:

This series will cover the final pillar, Eat.

When I used to coach the Foundations program at my gym, I would joke with these new clients that the three most dangerous topics to discuss with others were politics, religion, and nutrition. Then I would proceed to talk about nutrition on several different levels:

  • Why it’s important
  • I helped them think critically about all the available info out in the world by discussing the pro’s, con’s, and unknowns of different nutritional philosophies out there
  • How to make the best sustainable choice based on where they are and where they wanted to go

Similar to how we started the first series on sleep (by covering the definition, it’s function, as well as the beacon), we will do that with this pillar as well. Here we go:

Nutrition: Definition –

The biochemical and physiological process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth, through the stages of ingestion, digestion/absorption, assimilation, and excretion.

Nutrition: Function –

Beyond that, I think it’s important to define those last 5 terms as well as they describe the function of what is going on once food/drink enter our body.

Ingestion – the process of putting food/drink into the body, typically through the mouth

Digestion/Absorption – the breakdown of large insoluble food molecules into small water-soluble food molecules so that they can be absorbed into the watery blood plasma

Assimilation – the process of absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other chemicals from food within the gastrointestinal tract

Excretion – a process in which metabolic waste is eliminated from an organism

What is the beacon of great nutrition?

When we say ‘beacon’ in this context, we are referring to the highest ideal. It is not a judgement of good or bad, but simply a lighthouse to provide guidance. It is important to establish this so that as coaches we have a frame of reference to work towards. Like a homebuilder is armed with architectural drawings for the home they are constructing, our beacon allows for a roadmap to be plotted. Having said all that, it’s also important to recognize that many folks likely won’t achieve this ideal and that is OK! Circumstances, environment, resources, intentions, and readiness all play a role in how far down this path people choose to walk.

The becon of great nutrition is:

  • A personalized plan
  • Comprised of whole foods recognizable at the beginning of time
  • Made up of optimal nutrient density
  • Supportive of vitality and desired physical function

You should notice in this list an infinite number of variables that you can work with someone on. There is no ‘one way’ and thus it gives way to the art of coaching.

In the following posts, we’ll detail: assessing and understanding the consequences of sub-optimal nutrition and finally how to make prescriptions to your clients on what they can do to positively affect this pillar.

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