This post I wanted to focus on the most common nutrition blunders I see in the clinic. When I ask patients about their diets, the response is unanimously “pretty good”… until I ask them to record it! After just one week of tracking their diets, I hear: “well, this was a bad week”. Sound like something you’d say?
With so much to do and so little time to think, for many of us, there is a disconnect between mind and body, especially around the topic of nutrition. A lot of the time, we eat without awareness or accountability and if our diets were, in fact, pretty good, then we wouldn’t have the rates of obesity or chronic disease that we are seeing today.
It’s important to note that good nutrition is vital for your overall health and well-being, not just weight management. It helps your body run efficiently, your mind think clearly, your skin look and feel healthy and it’s one of the best anti-aging techniques around! So, to help empower you health savvy people, here are some of my simple tips to ensure a healthier diet and a guilt free answer when you say your diet is great.
- The whole truth. Choose whole GRAIN not whole wheat! Unfortunately, this term is often used interchangeably and, in reality, the nutrient content varies between these two options. Whole grain means that it includes the entire seed of the plant (germ, endosperm and bran). Whole wheat is made from whole grain, but it may have much of the germ removed. Any time a food is altered from its whole state (note: a whole food means that it closely resembles what it originally looked like and has not been processed) you lose nutrient content and, in the case of whole wheat, fiber content.
- Water, drink it up! Water is so important that I dedicated an entire article to it in the past, but it deserves to be mentioned again. We need at least 2 litres (8 glasses) per day. Water content in other beverages (e.g. coffee and juice) does not count towards your water intake. In fact, coffee is a diuretic, meaning that it further dehydrates you; therefore, if you drink a cup (250ml – seriously, who drinks a coffee that small?!), you need to drink even more water to make up for it. Additionally, most juices we have are from concentrate and high in sugar. Not a big fan of drinking water? If you have kids who are picky eaters or you, yourself, were one, or if you’ve ever had an animal that needed medication, surly you know the power of disguise! Make your water sexy and dress it up by adding lemon, cucumber and mint or orange slices.
- Variety is the spice of life. Do you know what a rotation diet is? A good way to prevent food allergies (which causes inflammation in the body – an ideal environment for disease) is to frequently mix things up in your diet. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, different types of grains (buckwheat, quinoa or millet) and try new milk sources every couple of weeks (give almond, rice and coconut milk a try). Not only does this keep things interesting it also ensures we keep inflammation at a minimum. Tried it once and didn’t like it? Try it again, but do something different with it. You’d be amazed how the combination of certain ingredients can change the taste and consistency.
- All the colors of a rainbow. What does your plate look like? A good way to judge your veggie and fruit intake is by looking at all the different colors on your plate at meal times. A simple rule of thumb is the darker in color, the more phyto-nutrients a food contains. When our WHOLE food is colourful and raw, it provides us with our daily intake of vitamins and nutrients and even the enzymes to help break them down efficiently in the stomach. When processed properly in our bodies, food really does act as fuel to energize us! Keep in mind that the opposite is true for anything white. It will be lacking in vitamins and nutrients and will most often make us feel sluggish, high in carbohydrates or starch.
- Don’t run on empty. Eating meals more frequently is something I spend a lot of time coaching my Health & Active Program patients on. If you want to boost or support your body’s metabolic rate you must eat and eat frequently. When we skip meals or wait too long between meals, this disrupts our insulin and blood sugar balance. When this happens our bodies, due to a slow change in our genetic make-up, start to fear famine. So, what happens when you eat your next meal? You store that food as fat! You body does not trust that it knows when its next meal is going to come, so not only do you slow your metabolic rate, but you also begin to store more fat! Both things I am sure you are trying hard to avoid. Respect the body and fuel it frequently. If you do, you will see the results…
Stay tuned for more nutrition tips to follow next post…
Have a fabulously fun and nutritious weekend! (And, yes these two things can co-exist)
In great health & happiness,