NUTRITION MADE SIMPLE
If you ever want to make your head spin, go to your local bookstore and check out the “nutrition” section.
What you’ll find is a dizzying amount of information with books teaching you how to cut carbs out of your life, how to stop eating meat, how to eat only organic food … even how to eat “like a caveman.”
Some of these books will guide you through 30-day cleanses.
Others will promise to change your life … forever.
Type the word “nutrition” into a Google search and you’ll find McDonald’s marketing material, the Canada Food Guide and even the “Nutrition Facts of Beer.”
It’s more than a little confusing. When frustration sets in, it’s easy to default to what’s comfortable, regardless of whether it’s in your best interest.
Food and nutrition are packed with lots of emotional baggage. Feelings of love, guilt, pleasure and even shame make choosing the “right” foods challenging.
To meet this challenge, I’ve been searching for a tool to help you eat better in a simple way.
About two years ago, I came across the Brazilian dietary guidelines and was floored at how much they aligned with my personal philosophy.
To keep it simple, the Brazil food guide is broken down into 10 key points. It recommends eating whole foods rather than focusing on single nutrients and talks about the importance of choosing foods that are not highly processed and are as fresh as possible.
An interesting angle: There is a heavy emphasis on taking the time to plan and cook meals in the home, rather than relying on takeout, restaurant or packaged foods. There are recommendations about enjoying all things in moderation, seeking the pleasure in preparing your own meals and the positive benefits of eating with others as often as possible. The approach is holistic and refreshing. I would recommend, strongly, that you do an Internet search for “Brazil food guide” and take a few minutes to read it.
Food and eating carries a lot of emotion for people. While most clients have little difficulty in adding some exercise to their lives, it can be tough to help people understand how simple it can be to feed themselves in a more positive way.
Here are the five most significant bits of advice I give my clients when they’re trying to clean up their nutrition.
One. Never eat a meal that doesn’t include at least one serving of vegetables or fruits. This can be as simple as having berries and melon with your toast at breakfast, adding baby spinach to your turkey sandwich at lunch and having a mixed salad with your chicken at dinner.
Two. Figure out what you are good at cooking (or preparing) and figure out how to make it healthier. Small tweaks like using ground turkey for meat sauce have the potential to make your foods much healthier.
Three. When you cook something, make twice as much as you need. Package the rest in storage containers or freeze for later meals. In other words, stretch a single meal into two or three future meals. The salmon I grilled tonight will be in a sandwich for lunch tomorrow.
Four. Strive for balance. Dividing your plate into three equal areas for protein, vegetables and starch is a good way to do this. Most people load up with meat first and then throw a few veggies onto their plate as an afterthought.
Five. Remember that no one is perfect. You’re not a bad person if you give in and grab a doughnut at the drive-thru. It isn’t a mortal sin if you feed your kids junk food once in a while. When you do, however, “mitigate the damage” by making sure there is a side salad or some lean protein that goes with it.
Do the best you can. And if you “blow it,” don’t beat yourself up … that’s life.
Just don’t blow it again the next time that you eat!
Ernie Schramayr, CPT, is a Medical Exercise Specialist in Hamilton who helps his clients manage medical conditions with exercise. You can follow him at ErniesFitnessWorld.com., firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-741-7532
Ernie’s top nutrition tip: Never eat a meal that doesn’t include at least one serving of vegetables or fruits.