When someone first discovers about “IIFYM“, they are either immediately intrigued at the possibility of eating their favorite and beloved foods or are immediately turned off because they truly believe that in order to make progress in their fitness journeys, they HAVE to eat a certain way (clean eating, paleo, keto, etc).
The beauty of being a flexible dieter is that you can enjoy ALL foods and nothing is off limits. Ultimately, fat/weight loss will come down to calories in VS calories out. You may not be able to eat the amount or portion size you are hoping for, but can definitely make sure you can enjoy a serving of ice cream, an Oreo, or even a handful of chips here and there, in MODERATION.
The biggest misconception about IIFYM is that people fill their daily macronutrient allotment with ALL junk food. Flexible dieters only eat Pop Tarts, Ben & Jerry’s, and donuts right? I’m sure thats the impression many people must have. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
You have a basic guideline of what your body needs for your own personal goals (fat/weight loss, building, maintenance, performance, etc.) and you can choose to fill your daily caloric requirements with anything you like.
One could choose to eat 2 servings of homemade apple pie, 3 plain chicken breasts, and 2 protein shakes IF it added up to be the proper amount of calories for the day. Or they could decide the next day they want 8 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of fruit, a handful of nuts, a serving of brown rice, 4 plain chicken breasts, 2 tablespoons of their favorite nut butter, 1 cup of egg whites, 1/2 a serving of ice cream, a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, and some Greek yogurt.
RELATED: for awesome IIFYM friendly recipes CLICK HERE
On either of those given days, the TOTAL calories may look similar, BUT I assure you that if they chose to go the apple pie route they would certainly be hungry for the majority of the day AND not have enough fuel in the tank to train and workout properly.
Remember, just because a flexible dieter “can” choose to eat whatever they want each day, doesn’t necessarily mean they fill it with the most caloric dense foods. In most cases, it’s the exact opposite. The vast majority of what you eat is nutrient dense and 100% healthy, but flexible dieters also aren’t afraid to have a cookie or a small serving of their favorite sugary dessert.
Choosing nutrient-dense foods
Again, I assure you that your body will not be running optimally EVERY day on 2 servings of apple pie and a few chicken breasts. Our bodies NEED nutrient-dense foods and in most cases like myself, I crave healthy food far more than junk food. Moderation, balance, sustainability.
Some people believe that a calorie is just a calorie so as long as you hit your daily allotment, everything will run smoothly. Not the case for me personally. There is no way I could eat a bunch of junk food and then expect to have the energy to function the whole day, let alone train and hit my lifting program with max effort.
I rather eat in VOLUME which means I mostly eat foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients. What does that mean? That means VEGETABLES! Vegetables with EVERY single meal (and for daily snacks might I add)! They are a great way to get your micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.), typically higher in fiber (will keep you fuller longer), and they simply give you more “bang for your buck” when it comes to calories and overall satiety.
So what do my IIFYM (flexible dieting) shopping trips look like?
The Costco IIFYM Shopping List
Let me start with the basics. First and foremost, I do the majority of my shopping at Costco. As a family of four, we need to buy in bulk because someone is always eating (usually me) and we go through food so quickly. Costco is a great place to stock up on items that you know you will be eating a lot of. For me/us… that means vegetables, proteins, and then we rotate through a few favorite snacks every few weeks.
Vegetables and other produce
- Romaine lettuce
- power greens
- butternut squash
- brussel sprouts
- mixed peppers
- blackberries, apples
- mandarin oranges
Also purchased regularly: strawberries, bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberries, oranges, carrots, and celery.
- Whole eggs
- hard boiled eggs
- steaks (usually sirloin, millet mignon, and flank)
- deli meat
- turkey breast
- turkey burgers
- chicken breasts
Also purchased regularly: 0% Greek yogurt, ground turkey, chicken nuggets, turkey bacon, and egg whites.
Other Costco Items
- Frozen fruit (for smoothies)
- frozen veggies
- kale chips
- focaccia bread
- pre made meals such as coconut chicken curry
- peanut butter pretzels
- sandwich thins
- jelly beans (those are mainly for my husband because I do not like candy at all)
Other costco items regularly purchased: Raw nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds), Fiber One Bars, coconut oil, cereals (Honey Nut Cherrios, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch are our favorites), and frozen pizzas/quick weeknight meals.
Next stop: Sprouts Farmers Market!
The Sprouts IIFYM Shopping List
Luckily, everything is relatively close by and I’m stopping in to places often anyways for this and that. At Sprouts and other local “health conscious” food stores, I tend to buy the items that are more on the nutrient dense side. These will also typically be more speciality type food items that the regular grocery store won’t carry.
Here is what I grabbed on my most recent Sprouts trip:
- Walden Farm’s pancake syrup
- Bragg’s apple code vinegar
- peanut butter
- black bean pasta
- whole grain cinnamon raisin bread
- Rise bars
- brown rice tortillas
- coconut amines
- coconut milk
- Enjoy Life chocolate chips
- puffed kamut cereal
- organic chocolate rice cakes
The Rest Of The IIFYM Shopping List
And last but not least, to satisfy the more calorically dense foods (AKA junk food) quota in our “diets”, here is our Target, Walmart, and/or regular grocery store shopping! Just a handful of things we love and eat regularly OR new food items we want to try!
See, it’s not all about donuts, ice cream, and pop tarts!
Overall, the shopping list includes a lot of nutrient dense “healthy” food and then “fun” food thrown in here and there.
The main take away point here is that having the ability to eat a wide variety of food without fearing any of it will detour you from reaching your fitness goals. When you allow yourself to eat any and all foods you enjoy (within caloric requirements and moderation), the easier it will be to adhere to your nutrition for the long term.
Remember, if you are serious about changing your body and making fitness/health a priority, working out and your nutrition will need to become a LIFESTYLE!
I aim to eat the vast majority of foods from all natural, whole grain, nutrient dense sources. However, if I feel like I want to eat a cookie or a small bowl of ‘kid’ cereal, I will! Nothing is off limits and as long as I’m hitting my daily caloric requirements and fiber, I know my performance goals and body composition will always be optimal!