Blog Section

Marginal gains for healthier eating?

If I was going to use a sporting example to illustrate a point then you would think I would go topically, with football or tennis being the sport of choice! However we can all still relate to cycling and the success of team GB in recent years. When Sir David Brailsford took over in 2002 the team had previously had very little success with only one gold medal win in almost 80 years. So how did he make such huge changes to their success to the point that they have won so many gold medals at the Olympics in recent years? He used the theory of marginal gains, whereby if he took every aspect of the bike and the race and managed to achieve 1% improvement, then the total improvement collectively would significantly change results.

Obviously everyone knows that a drastic change in your diet will have an impact on your health (both positively and negatively depending on what you change!), but the question is can this idea of marginal gains be applied to your diet to have an improvement on your health?

I think so. And by applying this method you can constantly be fine tuning and tweaking what or how you eat. For this to work all you need to do is pick one aspect of what you are focusing on each time: this could be anything from sugar content, where you are getting your food from, how many veg are in a meal or how many takeaways you are having etc. Next just think, can I make a small improvement by making a change?

In terms of sugar for example, if you have x 2 teaspoons of sugar in your tea then going with no sugar at all is a big change – you can make a small change by looking at the ‘worst, better, best’ scale: worst = x2 teaspoons white sugar, better = 1 teaspoon brown sugar, even better = organic agave syrup/honey best = no sugar or stevia. You can then just pick the next smaller improvement and make the change a habit; and next time you review everything sugar intake might not be as high on the list, or you can move onto the next step.

Admittedly this is not a text book diet that you follow like a cookbook recipe because it involves learning a little bit more each time so that you can fill in the blanks and learn what is bad, better and best for you, but in the long run you can make huge changes to your diet which are sustainable over a period of time.