Fueling myself properly is an area in which I constantly strive to improve. It’s difficult to be in charge of the nutrition of a family of eight! There is a wide variety of palates in my family, and I have learned over the years that I can’t please everyone when it comes to preparing meals. My husband, for instance, doesn’t eat vegetables. (He claims lettuce tastes like dirt. To which I reply…. When did you ever eat dirt?!?)
I am on the other end of the spectrum. I could survive on vegetables alone. I can’t get enough of them. And our six kids? They all fall somewhere in between the two extremes.
With the start of each new year, I set some sort of goal in the area of nutrition. For 2018, I am aiming to drink more water. I am striving to consume a quart a day – with nothing added, just pure water. (Wish me luck. I’d rather drink a quart of Diet Coke.)
Last year, I approached my friend, Nicole Bobe, for help in tweaking my nutrition. She has helped a lot.Nicole and I have taught group exercise together at Bob’s Gym for the past 11 years. She is a registered dietitian and has recently started her own nutrition consultation company. I admire Nicole in many ways, and I did a happy dance when she agreed to write for my blog.
So, without further adieu, I present Nicole Bobe.
Ending the Vicious Cycle
I know many of you said you would get back to exercising and eating better after the holidays were over. Same intentions; different year, right?
Most people dread stepping on that scale to see what damage has been done! The brief pleasure one experiences from overindulging takes so much effort to deal with on the back end. Plus, as we get older, the task of getting back on track becomes more daunting. Some of our previous years goals don’t even seem realistic anymore, and our health wish list just gets longer. What was once a desire to lose 10 pounds. is now a longing to lose even more weight, have more energy, sleep better, think clearer, eliminate joint pain and address digestive problems, etc.
If you look around, it is obvious that the health of our society is going in the wrong direction. Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are everywhere.
Our health care system is great at tackling acute issues but struggles with chronic issues. We are pros at taking meds to deal with any symptoms we experience, but is this really helping the underlying problems? Symptoms are not normal, and they are your body’s way of saying something has been going on for a while now. All of that internal inflammation that is a result of repetitive bad choices is contributing to a cascade of internal imbalances, which ultimately results in undesirable side effects.
Changing your lifestyle for a healthier you isn’t going to happen with only a brief visit to your physician’s office or by just trying to eat better or exercise more. I wish it were that simple, but it’s much bigger than that. It requires a holistic approach that includes components such as appropriate activity, optimal nutrition, adequate sleep and stress reduction. Without all of these pieces in place, most people will never feel their best.
When you consider the drastic changes that have occurred in our environment in just the past 50 years, it’s no coincidence that there has been a decline in our society’s health. Just take a look at the changes in our food supply alone:
- Mass production of cheap food
- Depleted soil
- Increased exposure to chemicals
- Food processing methods like bleaching, high heat, and deodorizing
- Crops are picked early, stored longer, and have excessive transit times
- Inhumane treatment of animals
- Sensory manipulation – chemists at work, “betcha can’t eat just one”
- Extended shelf life with preservatives
- Artificial enhancement of appearance with food coloring
- Synthetic vitamin & mineral enrichment
- Genetically modified food
- Corporate giants influencing government and associations
Going to the gym is easy, controlling the quality of what you put in your mouth all day is not. This year, I challenge you to end the vicious cycle of being a victim of modern-day temptations and then playing catch up to fix the damage.
Spend your valuable time and energy focusing on a plan that will result in long-term healthy habits so you don’t have to go through the same beating every new year. Make 2018 the year you go big! Commit to creating a lifestyle that will help you reclaim your health and avoid chronic disease. This should be a long-term plan, not a short-term fix. So today, let’s start with the nutrition component of that new foundation.
Eat for nourishment
- Look at food as fueling your body with what it needs to thrive and function appropriately.
- Focus on high quality, real food, not calorie deprivation.
Read the ingredient list
- Numerous ingredients are never good.
- If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for you.
- Ignore the marketing on the box, it does not necessarily equate to a healthy product, you must read the ingredients.
- Fat free does not mean it’s healthy. Manufacturers add sugar when they take out fat.
- Do a quick glance for ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, highly processed vegetable and seed oils (soybean, canola, corn, cottonseed), preservatives (BHA, BHT, TBHQ, parabens), MSG, artificial colors or flavors, partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), artificial sweeteners (acesulfame potassium, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin). If you see them, put it down.
- Vibrant color usually means artificial coloring (pickles, cherries, drinks, yogurt, condiments). Many of these colors are illegal in other countries.
- Be leery of “healthy” foods like yogurt and energy bars. Many contain undesirable ingredients like preservatives, sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Bottom line is to avoid packaged foods as much as possible and just eat real food.
Junk is junk
- Even if it’s smaller portions.
- Even if it looks healthy but comes in a box.
- Even if it’s gluten free but still processed.
It’s not as simple as calories in, calories out
- Other factors are involved like stress, sleep, hormones, quality of food, gut health, digestion, toxin exposure, etc.
- A calorie is not a calorie. A-100 calorie snack pack is not equivalent to a 100 calories worth of berries.
- You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. I repeat, you can not exercise your way out of a bad diet.
Optimize your digestion
- Focus and enjoy your meal. Do not mindlessly scarf it down while watching TV, driving, or working on your computer.
- Take your time and chew to help break down the food.
- Avoid drinking too much during meals so your digestive enzymes are not diluted.
- Give your digestive system a break and don’t eat all day long. If you eat a well-balanced meal you should be able to last at least 4 hours and not need snacks. Get in tune with your hunger signals, not the clock.
Avoid short cuts
- Many fad diets exclude very healthy foods.
- There is no magic diet, supplement, prescription medication or infomercial product out there that’s going to result in long-term health.
Every little change counts and will result in huge enhancements to your health. Keep track of your progress and feel proud about each of the steps you make. All of those symptoms that you were trying to mask with medications or just write off as being a part of getting older will start to dissipate. It is quite liberating to have steady energy throughout the day, to not need caffeine or to crave sweets, and to sleep soundly, all because of your lifestyle changes. Eventually what used to seem difficult becomes a normal habit.
I know taking on major lifestyle changes is not easy. It’s not just about determination and having strong will. You don’t have to tackle it alone though. Find a functional health practitioner or a health coach to help you with a plan and keep you on track. You only have one body, no excuses!
Nicole Bobe is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. She is a fitness instructor at Bob’s Gym and the owner of One Body No Excuses, a nutrition and health consulting company that utilizes a holistic approach to help individuals transform their lifestyle and reclaim their health.
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This post was written by Michelle Walker