Getting Back to Nutrition Basics: Why, How, & What Are You Eating?
By: Kristi Goode
It all starts with food, which is the most basic necessity of human existence! It keeps us alive by nourishing our bodies, minds, and even our cells. So, when did it become so complicated? We appear to be wondering why, how, and what we are expected to eat these days. What if, instead of worrying about how many meals you eat per day or when you eat them, you concentrated on getting more protein and fiber at each meal and eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day? What does that look like for you? What if you went back to the basics? You can begin by being aware of why you eat, how you eat, and what you are eating. All while focusing on the importance of including more whole foods.
Why am I eating? This is the first question to ask yourself before reaching for that second snack, a second serving at dinner, or right before any meal. Asking yourself questions such as “Am I truly hungry? Is my stomach growling because it been a couple of hours since my last meal? Am I stressed or just bored?” It’s a common fact that many people eat when not hungry and continue to eat once full. Recognizing “why” you are eating is an important part of nutrition basics. You should be eating to nourish your body so that you gain more energy to perform your daily activities and tasks. As some would say, “food is fuel”. Therefore, being more mindful of why you are eating helps you to recognize if you are eating for hunger, stress, pleasure, or to nourish your body.
How should I be eating? Eat slowly. The slower you eat the more time you will have to notice when you physically “feel full”. After about 20 minutes your hormones will have time to recognize that you are full and satisfied, thus sending a message to your brain that you can stop eating. Did you know that eating slowly can lead to better portion control without you even realizing it? Not only will it help you eat less food overall, it has been shown to have positive health outcomes, such as better digestion! Just so you’re aware, even a healthy diet can be damaging and lead to inflammation if you are eating too much food.
What am I eating? You've probably heard how important it is to consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Knowing what foods or beverages you're putting into your body might help you figure out what foods work and don't work for you. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes the food groups described above will provide you with the macronutrients and micronutrients that your body needs to complete and execute your daily tasks. While processed foods are tasty, they don't provide enough micronutrients and leave you wanting more.
Let’s take a quick look at how whole foods can benefit your body. Protein is good for cell repair, muscle hair, nails, and keeps you feeling full for longer. Protein sources include lean meat, fish, eggs, and legumes. Veggies provide essential micronutrients necessary for development and function at your cellular level. Fruits are a source of carbohydrates, fiber, micronutrients and are rich in potassium, vitamin C, and folate. Also, the fiber in fruit assists with digestive functioning.
Studies have shown, people who eat more vegetables and build a balanced plate had lower rates of chronic disease. As a result, being aware of why, how, and what you eat leads to improved overall health. Slowly eating until you're content while increasing your intake of complete, nutrient-dense meals will nourish your body at the cellular level, providing you energy all day. In the end, convenience meals and processed foods may cost more than convenience. In the end, they come at a price, and our health is paying the price!