It’s National Nutrition Awareness Month. I love that nutrition is finally getting the recognition it deserves. I realize that most people think they have a good foundation of nutrition, but what I have discovered is that the definition of nutrition is different for everyone.
Webster’s Dictionary defines nutrition as “the act or process of nourishing or being nourished.” The challenge is that this gives us so much leeway and at the end of the day nutrition is our fuel for health and longevity, not just food and calories.
I meet with clients on a daily basis, that swear they eat “healthy”. For them healthy refers to anything from fat-free foods, low calorie foods, or anything purchased from a healthy grocery store. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to provide us with the nutrients we need for great health. Did you know that we need over 96 vitamins and minerals per day?
Yes, many manufactured foods have “fortified” their foods to provide a high array of nutrients, but the challenge is that we may or may not absorb all those nutrients. Our bodies are designed to absorb maximum nutrition from foods in their natural and unaltered state. We receive more useful nutrition from fruits and vegetables, than a bowl of fortified cereal.
Many people I work with tend to feed themselves simply to get by. No rhyme or reason, except that it’s yummy and maybe it’s for a gathering of sorts. Food is your FUEL, it’s your gasoline that gives you energy, great health, mental clarity, and so much more. Here are my top 5 tips to provide you with the right nutrition and FUEL for great health:
Hydration serves in 2 big ways, it helps to reduce body fat, and it helps reduce inflammation (which is a challenge with most health conditions). Drinking water as your main hydration source is key for optimal health. My best tip…Place 2 glasses of water at your vanity every night. This way, when you wake up, it’s the first thing you see, and drinking is easier because it’s right in front of you.
2. Fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack!
Consider your fruits and vegetables, as your primary multi-vitamin. Not only do they offer ample nutrition, they also help with digestion, of both raw and cooked foods. When choosing which ones to add in, think of it this way…the darker, the richer, the color, the more nutrition they provide. Eating with a rainbow of colors in mind, will give you plenty of nutrition throughout the day.
3. MINIMIZE your Sugars.
Sugar is not just sugar, it’s anything that your body decides to treat as a sugar. Foods such as Sugar, Flour, Dairy, and Alcohol are all perceived as a sugar. We need a small amount of sugar for brain function (but honestly, we can get that from fruit). Anything over that is easily converted into fat, if not used for exercise and activity.
4. QUALITY proteins and fats help to keep the body satiated.
Carbohydrates (from fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains) offer immediate energy. When we eat only carbohydrates, we become hungrier quicker. On the other hand, if we combine it with quality proteins and fats, it lingers in our system longer, and we stay satiated. Proteins and fats take longer to digest, this is why we can stay satisfied for a longer period of time. Every meal and snack should be a balance combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This combination can be adjusted accordingly depending on the amount of activity in your day.
5. Your foods should ENERGIZE and never slow you down!
Remember, food is fuel. Your foods should empower your energy centers to provide you with enough energy to do the things you want to do throughout the day. Our adrenal glands are the energy receptors of the body. When we provide our body with false energy, from caffeine or sugar, we actually create more fatigue in the long run, than actual energy. Creating the right combination of quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will give you ample energy to conquer the craziest of days!
You are fully in charge of your health and energy. No one can take care of it for you, not even the best medical professional. Feeding your body the right foods, will fuel you for energy, health, and overall well-being. We are here as role models for our children and family. The stronger we are from the inside out, the more energy we will have to encourage and motivate those around us. Let’s get to it during National Nutrition Month and all year long!