The importance of healthy eating and good nutrition
In a world of convince foods healthy eating and good nutrition can be a challenge for some. However, research has shown a change in attitudes in recent years. We are all becoming far more aware of our health and the things we can do to boost it. But with so much information out there, sometimes we lose sight of the basic facts and lessons we should follow when it comes to our diets and how to eat healthily.
Healthy eating is not about living in a calorie deficit, juice diets or other fads, nor is it about cutting out entire food groups. When I started Flotality last year, the main goal I had was to provide people a health and fitness service that enabled them to create balance in their bodies from the inside out using exercise and nutrition as my tools. Too often I see people punishing themselves on the latest diet fad, but then struggle to keep it up and as a result quit within a matter of days or weeks as it simply is too hard to sustain.
How many people do you know that always seem to be on a diet of some sort but either never really see any real progress towards their goals or maybe they yo-yo in weight? Perhaps you might even be one of them?
Health and wellbeing is all about creating balance within the body, everything in moderation. There is no quick fix diet to reach your goals and maintain them long term.
- A good, sustainable, diet plan should never feel punishing, you should never feel starving at any point.
- A good, sustainable, diet plan should not cut out entire food groups, or permanently put you in a calorie deficit.
- A good, sustainable, diet plan should be designed to last the long haul and allow you a few treats from time to time, it should be more of a lifestyle change if you like.
It’s also important to remember everyone has a different make up, not one person is completely the same as the next, we all have our various likes and dislikes, some may even be intolerant or allergic to certain foods, whereas others might have certain beliefs on things we should and shouldn’t eat. Other things like our DNA can also factor in to what our individual bodies require and how we respond to certain foods too.
These are exactly the things those ‘quick fix’ diet guides don’t consider and hence why a lot of them fail unless the follower has some nutritional knowledge that can help them adapt the diet plan for their specific needs.
Healthy Eating – The Basics
So, let’s get back to basics, we eat to fuel our bodies, we eat to function and survive. What we put in affects what we get out – fact. Think of it this way – you wouldn’t put petrol in a diesel car and expect it to work ok would you?
All our bodies require the following nutrients to supply our body with the energy it needs to function (fuel), aid in tissue growth and repair, act in various biochemical reactions and much more:
- Vitamins and minerals
These nutrients can be found in the various food groups
- Fruit and vegetables
- Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
- Bean, pulses, meat and fish
- Dairy or alternatives that are rich in calcium
Of course, water, although not a nutrient, should also be a key component in our diets as it is vital in many of the biochemical reactions that happen within our body.
There is a generalised published guide for the quantities of which each of these food groups should be consumed in, many of you this is known as the Eatwell Guide or Healthy Eating Plate, provided by the government.
However, contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually believe these quantities are a one size fits all, for example, some of us have a lower tolerance for carbohydrates than others, or our fitness goals/aims mean that we need to adjust the percentages a little. By no means am I saying those groups should be cut out altogether but the intake quantities may need to be adjusted to the individual’s needs. At the other end of the scale you might find that for your body type or goals you may need to eat more of a certain nutrient, and again those intake figures will need to be adjusted. This is where the DNA Fit text kit can really come in handy.
Regardless of intake quantities, without consuming these nutrients our bodies simply with not perform at optimum levels and we are more likely to suffer from illness and disease. I’m not saying that if you don’t eat healthily you will die, many people survive/get by on eating an inadequate diet, but their true potential health is hindered.
Food allergies and intolerances
For those of you with food allergies or intolerances, this doesn’t mean you should be missing out on entire food groups, there will always be something that you can eat to provide enough of that nutrient that you might miss out on in more common food choices. For example, people who suffer from coeliac disease or gluten intolerances should not avoid carbohydrates all together just because the most common forms of food options contain this ingredient. There are plenty of other options such as potatoes, quinoa and other non-gluten grains.
Vegetarians and Vegans
As with vegetarians and vegans, a worry could be that your diet will lack in protein when this is in fact far from the truth. You can obtain your daily requirements of protein from plant-based sources such as beans and lentils. Though be aware, it can much harder to reach the required daily intake through just eating these raw foods, so you might opt to supplement your diet with tablets or perhaps even a plant base protein shakes to ensure you reach your levels.
Healthy eating isn’t always easy and isn’t always fun, it does take discipline, but not to the point that you are punishing yourself. When people take the plunge and choose to make healthier choices in their eating habits, I can guarantee within a few weeks they will begin to notice the difference – some might find they have more energy, some might see a change in their skin/hair/nails, others might find they just feel better inside, and depending on goals, some will even loose a bit of weight or maybe gain a bit! These benefits are usually what then drives people to stick at it!
If you are struggling to get started, why not try by just making a few small healthy changes each week – think of them as goals if you like. For example, this week you might decide to challenge yourself and try increase your water intake, or instead of eating two chocolate bars a day, you might reduce that to just one. Eventually you might find you have replaced many of the bad health choices with good health choices – this ‘slow introduction’ method could be a far easier way to make a healthy lifestyle change than by throwing yourself into the deep-end and will probably be more successful long term!
Need help understanding what your individual nutritional needs are?
If you would like to learn more about eating a healthy diet right for you, help losing weight, or help eating for fitness performance then please get in touch. We offer everyone a free discovery consultation not only to advise how to help but also to better understand your needs.
We understand that everyone is different, from goals and body types, to food intolerances, allergies, likes and dislikes. We take all these things into mind and help devise a plan to suit your unique needs.
Give Harriet a call or email today!