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Healthy eating – And Not Feel Like You’re Starving
Experts around the world agree that proper nutrition is the fundamental key to health and well-being. Our bodies are very efficient machines that exist by converting the energy and properties of other organisms and then adding the nutritional values of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibers, vitamins and minerals to our own cells. Because of this direct conversion, we literally are what we eat! The quality of food, nutritional density and caloric value of food sources all play a role in healthy nutrition.
The availability of food in American culture and the method in which it is prepared has played a significant role in the prevalent increase in obesity. In addition, many people are unaware of or simply ignore the quality or calorie content of foods they choose. Fast food, saturated fats, processed and preserved foods along with sugars and sodium-filled foods are easily accessible and well branded. The attraction and instant gratification found in many of these food items can be hard to resist or eliminate from ones diet. Here are 5 Simple Steps to get on the path to healthy eating:
1: Commit to Yourself and to the Plan. The first step on the path to healthy eating is to truly commit yourself to the duration, menu and structure of a clean eating program. In many cases, our dietary habits are formed over long periods of time and are very much a part of our daily activities and unconscious behaviors. We are able to come up with a handful of creative excuses as to why we don’t, or feel we can’t, commit to better food choices. We often blame schedules, children, spouses, convenience, finances or even lack of knowledge about nutrition. In fact, these excuses are not very strong and it is simply a lack of commitment that is the root cause. It’s a hard truth but once the commitment is made to improve one’s nutritional intake, it becomes much easier to focus on the following steps to improve lifestyle and wellbeing.
2: Clean House. Once the commitment is made to healthy eating, the very first action must be purging your home of any food stuff that is not fresh, wholesome or otherwise high in calories and low in nutritional value. Some of the obvious offenders include highly processed foods such as frozen pre-packaged meals, snack cakes, chips, cookies, ice creams, granolas, candies, sugar drinks and any of the myriad of other culprits lurking in your kitchen. Foods high in sugar, sodium or calories must be eliminated and if you take the time to read nutrition labels and be honest with yourself about the quality of foods in your home it may be staggering to uncover the low quality and high calorie foods you have collected and consumed. Often, people seeking body fat loss or improved nutritional intake see a degree of success by simply banishing poor quality foods and making better meal choices at home.
3: Choose Nutrition over Calories. Now that you have made the commitment and cleared away the temptations and pitfalls of low quality foods in the home, you can begin to assemble a high nutrient and low calorie menu plan. Optimal nutrition requires a balance between carbohydrates, proteins and fats where these macronutrients can be obtained through lower calorie options. Some complex carbohydrates with high nutrient density and low calories include barley, quinoa, whole grains, chickpeas, yams, beans and vegetables. A few excellent complete proteins include eggs, skinless chicken breast, lean turkey, salmon, cod, tuna, buffalo, pork tenderloin and combining complementary sources such as black beans and brown rice for a vegetarian protein option. Excellent fats include avocado, pecans, walnuts, almond butter and oils such as coconut, olive and flaxseed. There are many variations and countless other options for quality carbs, proteins and fats listed above so do some homework and find the high-nutrient low-calories food sources that best suit your tastes and ability to prepare.
4: Pre-Plan & Time Balanced Meals. Now that you have the best ingredients, it’s time to plan your meals for each week and be sure to get a good balance of all the main macronutrients. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating within the following ranges: Carbohydrates: 45-65% of calories, Protein: 10-35% of calories and Fat: 20-35% of calories. It is critical to balance the proper amount of calories consumed to the ideal ratio of macronutrients. One’s resting metabolic rate, activity level and wellness objective should be tied closely to nutritional intake. The best way to ensure consistency and keeping on-track is planning and preparing meals in advance. It is recommended meals be prepared on a Sunday for the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, Friday and weekend meals should be planned or prepared by Wednesday evening. As for timing, it is often best to eat at regular intervals of three to four hours to ensure a maximal supply of nutrition and energy delivering calories. Without question, water must be added to this consideration and regularly consumed to feed the body process and brain function.
5: Add Variety and Keep It Fresh. There is much debate over the subject of dietary verity in academic circles. Some argue variety keeps the body from under-processing common food sources based on efficiency adaptations while some contend that altering ones normal routine can adversely affect digestive microbes. And the list of arguments and debate grows with the mounting glamorized demonization of glutens, fats, carbohydrates or other popularized food villain. Regardless, humans have a remarkable ability to consume a wide range of foods and sometimes variety just keeps eating from becoming monotonous. Moreover, spicing it up makes it much easier to stay on the clean and lean path. Provided you keep within your caloric range, proper macronutrient ratio and do not suffer from a pre-existing condition, variety should not be a challenge.
Nutrition is a very complex and highly individualize science. The 5 Simple Steps to Healthy Eating listed above are a small and very simplified example intended to be a launch pad for the novice or those who just need a reminder. For more information of basic nutrition and incorporating fitness or activities to achieve wellness goals, visit www.forgept.com and feel free to contact us for more details, suggestions or information on improving your fitness!
By Michael S. Parker
Founder at Forge Online Personal Training
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