Monday, September 6, 2010

The Importance of Eating

I know, sounds silly, but I think we all need a reminder of the importance of eating as society has made it either the center of every social event (generally with poor food choices and lots of them) or something we do on the fly grabbing the easiest, usually not the healthiest, option. With a little information maybe general attitudes towards food can be changed and maybe then we will change our priorities and work to improve our health.
It's really just about physiology and metabolism...First we need to begin to see food as fuel for our bodies not just something to fill our bellies when we are hungry or reach to it for comfort.  The building blocks for health come from the food we eat. Think about finding the foods that will provide the best support for your body systems in their daily function.  Keep your metabolism burning high by eating more healthy foods more frequently.
All the excuses start now....don't have time to prepare or sit down for a meal, I'll grab something on the way; it's expensive to buy healthy food....Well, consider this what you do now to save yourself time only takes away from quality and quantity of life in the long run. Granted some diseases, illnesses etc are out of our control but eating right and living a healthy lifestyle certainly tips the scale in your favor to avoid or certainly improve your chances in successfully fighting illness/disease.  I will certainly choose to take the control of what I can.

Important components of establishing a healthy eating lifestyle:

  • Food choices: whenever considering a food think about what it provides for your body, is it good fuel? Is it calorie dense or nutrient dense? Consider that with more nutrient dense foods you can eat a much larger volume allowing you to fill up without overloading on calories. You can eat more and maintain a healthy weight with the right foods! Learn to read labels, watch for fat content, avoiding trans fats and saturated fats (sure I don't need to elaborate on the need to avoid those). Avoid quick energy foods including simple carbs and sugary snacks...they may provide quick relief from an energy slump but sends you quickly back to a low.  
  • Like any other machine, your body runs most effieciently with a consistant fuel supply. Small frequent meals keeps metabolism running high, helps control blood sugar levels to avoid insulin spikes and energy crashes. Consistant fueling provides a thermogenic effect increasing metabolism as well as encouraging efficient use of nutrients. Low calorie diets result in low energy levels, decreased activity and a resulting slowed metabolism. Maintain consistant levels to control snacking and find less cravings for sweets and sugars as giving in to these cravings only perpetuates the cycle of energy crashes.
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast, your tank is empty, cruising on fumes only works for so long and you body starts to take from body stores for required energy and not the good places like that fat around the middle you are trying to get rid of. As the day progresses you reach for quick and generally simple carbs are the snack of choice for quick energy starting off the energy peaks and crashes. The frequent blood sugar spikes increase insulin release which then encourages fat storage...aha..the belly fat stays!
  • Combine lean protein and complex carbs at every meal: this combination results in a slower digestion due to the fact that protein are harder to digest (more caloric expenditure!) and therefore results in a slow, steady release of sugar and no insulin spikes. 
  • Basic math always applies: calories in must be less than caolries burned for a caloric deficit if your goal is weight loss. The calories in healthy food still count with some adding up portion distortion with nuts and peanut butter as well as the healthy fats...great benefits but still pack on pounds if eaten in abundance.
  • Be prepared: plan meals ahead and start preparation before you are too hungry and tempted to snack on something quick or "sample" as your are preparing..these calories count too!  Carry some healthy snacks with you to avoid giving in to eating out or vending machines when you are out.  Consider small portion sized snack containers in your cabinets to allow you to quickly grab when hungry to avoid portion distortion. The key is to have the healthy options easily within reach!

Of course it is easier to toss around the excuses...but with some planning and commitment you will soon see the benefits of eating in the way the human machine was meant to be fed.  Plan for hunger by having healthy snacks handy (pack them to go!) and watch portion sizes always. Make the committment for 1 month and then admit to yourself that your energy levels are higher and more level and your pants button a little easier!

References: For more information please consider reading The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno for information that will help you easily incorporate healthy choices into your healthy eating lifestyle. If you are interested in more detail regarding the science behind it all and more of the 'nitty-gritty' consider the e-book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto

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