Cognitive Behavioural Nutrition

What is the useful. cognitive behavioural approach to nutrition coaching?

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.


You are not a machine

One of the most important things to understand about yourself, is that you are less a predictable machine, and more a probabilistic ecosystem. This has implications not only for how you program your training and nutrition, but your expectations of them… and yourself.

We are our mind, body, and behaviour—a nested environment within our wider environment—which is in constant flux, and influenced by external and internal stimuli, to think, feel, and act. Much like the weather, a pressure change in one area creates a reciprocal pressure change in another, often with a time lag in effects. Short-term forecasting is more predictable, while long-term forecasting remains probabilistic.

For example, if you eat a doughnut, we can predict with fairly high accuracy the acute rise and fall of your blood glucose over the next hour. However, we cannot accurately predict how this blood glucose excursion will affect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours the rest of the day, let alone the next day.

We can though identify patterns, and learn about the unique effects food, exercise, sleep, and general life have on our mind, body, and behaviour. Eating a doughnut while sitting at your desk may lead to feeling lethargic, distracted, hunger, and later snacking. However, eating that same doughnut just before your training session, may lead to feeling more focused, dynamic, and powerful.

Same doughnut, different outcomes… different person (mind, body, behaviour).

Allostasis: load, stress, strain, recovery

A schema used in useful. coaching, is viewing everything through the lens of the load it is placing on you, your capacity to handle the stress of the load, the resulting deformation (mental, physical), your ability to recover from the strain (cumulative deformation), and resulting increase in your capacity to handle future loads—allostasis.

Allostasis is the process of regulating homeostasis (internal balance) through the adaptive change of your internal environment to meet the perceived and anticipated demands of the external environment.

In relation to nutrition, how you eat and where you eat can lead to the body “expanding” or “defending”—allowing you to do more, or preventing you from doing more. Health and performance involves your nervous system, which is constantly interpreting internal and external signals of “safety”. We have evolved to survive, and survival is about efficiency—often the dialing down of physiological functions: growth, recovery, reproductive, and ultimately athletic performance. This is why dieting (energy restriction) stratgies have be applied with care.

useful. coaching is facilitating you in being able to handle progressively greater and greater loads, because ultimately the athlete who can accumulate the most volume of quality training and positively adapt from it, will be the best.

Interplay: cognition, emotion, behaviour, physiology

useful. coaching approach draws on cognitive behavioural theory—that our thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and behaviour are interconnected. That each of these are targets for change, and positively changing one, will positively change the others.

Nutrition could be defined in the following terms…

Therefore, what we eat, and where we eat, can have a profound impact on various levels. From vitamin status, to your relationship with your partner.

Having had over 2200 hours of conversation with 300+ clients, it is clear that nutrition coaching is far more than just energy, food, and supplements.

How we eat is often the visible surface ripples of who we are, and how we experience ourselves in the world.

Work with me?

useful. coaching is about creating the space to not only focus in on the sports performance aspect, but zoom right out and explore the bigger picture. It is ultimately about helping you understand more about who you are, and the intersection between nutrition, your mind, body, and behaviour.

If you are interested in understanding more, and working together, view coaching services…

Currently useful. is focused on supporting sport climbers. However, please email if you are not a climber, but interested in coaching.

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