While there are as many various diets and opinions as drops in the rain, the good and worthy ones are far and few in between. And what’s most important to us, they all share few common concepts. Let’s take a look at them:
1. Good nutrition properly controls energy intake and energy output
2. Good nutrition provides nutrient density
3. Good nutrition achieves health, body composition, and performance goals
4. Good nutrition is honest and outcome-based*
*Nutrition: Complete Guide. John Berardi
For average person to be able to differentiate whether certain diet approach fits all the above will require at least a certification course. If you don’t feel like educating yourself in that area, then that is where you can reach out to a specialist – at least for information on how to pick the right approach in this endless ocean of new and old diets, tricks, and advice.
I want to give a quick overview of these components followed by some guidelines for each of the meals of the day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Energy intake and output – proper nutritional approach keeps in mind that in order to lose weight, you must eat less than you burn. Whichever diet you pick, check if they mention it. Oh, and obviously, if you want to gain weight, you must eat more than you burn. But in both cases exercising is important component, that cannot be omitted.
Nutrient density – There is a wonderful book, really worth reading, that is called Food, Inc. The movie was good too, but the message in the book was just brilliant: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants” While “mostly plants” can be questioned by many, including me, the first part of the statement is undoubtedly great – eat real food. Not the food products. However, when you pay close attention to shelves in any supermarket, all you see is food products. Dairy products replaced milk, deli and processed meats replaced steak and pork, potato chips replaced potatoes, fruit juices replaced fruit. On top of this all, almost every food is fat free right now, but because fat is essential component of food quality, including taste, these products are enriched with sweeteners, artificial flavors, taste modifiers, added calcium, vitamins C and D, etc. etc. The end product is not food. It’s a replacement for food, so the government and large food companies can feed larger amount of people for significantly less amount of money.
Notice – health is not mentioned nowhere in this statement. Pure conspiracy? No, just prioritizing. Big companies are concerned with their income and delivering to maximum amount of customers. There is no evil plan, just pure business.
However, if you are concerned about your health, then you should take pro-active steps and not to wait for your health to be destroyed. Therefore the food you put on your table has to be nutrient dense food – it has to contain enough proteins, fats, carbohydrates, water, minerals and vitamins. Ideally none of these has to come in a form of a pill, tablet, or capsule. Best if you can find balance with real foods. If that’s impossible, then supplements can be applied, but carefully and with proper knowledge. Being armed with this knowledge your grocery shopping can become more automatic and less stressful. Out of all the options, look for the most real and natural. They will be the most nutrient dense as well.
Body composition and performance goals:
You are what you eat. If you put crappy fuel in your body, don’t expect your body to function like a race car. Depends on what your activity or sport is, or what your goal – decrease body fat, increase muscle, improve sprint, jump, throw, or simply being able to tie your shoes and pick up grocery bag – proper food helps to achieve all of these goals. Just be patient with choices. And remember – our body wasn’t originally designed to drink colorful fluids and foods that cannot become rotten. It is very important to remember – build enough patience to stay with your choices, and always, always, always remind yourself why you stick to these choices. Majority of us do things because we want to feel good. Or we don’t want to feel bad. Here is the strategy though – whenever you crave something that you know is not going to help your body to become better, there is a reason for that – the reason is IT FEELS GOOD to eat that bad food. As a human beings, we are responsible for controlling the next step though – if you know the food is bad for you, and you want to eat eat, because it feels good at the moment, IT WILL BE BAD LATER. We have brain and logical ability to predict it, right? Now let’s use our energy to override or to channel these emotions that throw you into bag of chips or candies.
Honest and outcome based:
Another point to what good nutrition is and how it can change us is:
– Change is not happening very fast.
Get used to the idea that changing your body cannot be done in, how they say in infomercials, “in three fifteen minute long workouts a week. And you can eat whatever you want”.
You think the gadget that was invented one year ago could build a physique of a professional model? Hmmm. Okay. Tooth fairy will be waiting for you at home
That’s a lie that we often believe, because it’s easier to believe the lie than to brace yourself for a long journey of gradual improving of yourself. It takes longer than one week of adding breakfast and skipping late night binge eating to see results. It usually takes more than one try to figure out what foods your body digests and what doesn’t. It makes a huge difference where the food comes from and what quality it it. Does anybody want to try plants and mushrooms that grow about 50 km away from Chernobyl’? Meanwhile in Ukraine, where I am from, these products were repeatedly spotted on the shelves. How do you know where meat or vegetables at your No Frills came from?
So, in a very quick summary – honest approach to nutrition accounts all these and much more details to achieve best possible results. Is it easy? Absolutely not. I mean, just finding the dietitian or nutritionist who will account all of that will be hard, leave alone the idea of analyzing all of that data yourself. I recently had a conversation with one of my clients, and she admitted that being exposed to all of that nutritional and exercising information details is very depressing and discouraging to her. I can understand her point, but giving up is to shorten your life, become sick or ill, rob your kids or relatives of happiness of having you around longer, not being a burden to your loved ones when you age… It’s huge to me. That’s why I think we don’t have a choice. We must stick with healthiest options possible.
And, by the way, in the next article, about life hygiene, I will be talking exactly about it – what it is to be a healthy individual, and what consequences you will face when you choose this path.