Nutrition is straight up confusing. If you consider health at all you will notice that there is a constantly changing, sometimes contradictory stream of information being ‘sold’ to you. Yes, sold to you. It’s overwhelming, confusing and quite often discouraging. Why bother to be healthy? Nothing is good for you…
Hopefully the following considerations will take some of the mystery out of healthy eating:
1. Nutrition is a new science
As science begins to uncover the miracle and mystery of the human body and how our diet impacts upon it, new information will always evolve. This is exciting stuff!
2. Where is your ‘health’ information coming from?
To be fair, in most instances we cannot be sure. If the beef industry funds a study, the results will probably be on why beef is good for you. If the dairy industry is trying to sell more milk, you are going to hear that you need to drink more milk. These are million dollar industries and they want to sell you stuff, so look for unbiased sources of health and nutritional information (like Upful!).
3. Know your body
Most of us don’t; it’s a sad reality of our modern world. Pay attention to what you eat and how you feel before and after: your mood, your energy level, how your tummy feels, how easily you go to the bathroom, etc. A basic understanding of our physiology is vital for to be able to filter out the overwhelming amount of information we’re bombarded with everyday so that you can understand what truly works for you! Our bodies — the humble little temple in which our souls reside — is the closest thing we have to an actual possession in this world. Know it, love it, treat it with the same love and respect you would your new car. The better the fuel you feed it, the better and longer it will serve you!
4. There is no one size fits all answer
There is an ancient quote: “One man’s food is another man’s poison”. It’s a reminder that we are each unique beings. Sure, we share the same basic anatomy and physiology, but your family history, your daily activities and many other factors combine to make you the unique and beautiful individual you are. Some people thrive on a high carbohydrate diet, others need rich and frequent protein, some shine on a vegan lifestyle. Do not let anyone convince you that their way is the way. Be open, try out new things and figure out what works for you.
5. Read the nutritional labelling and ingredients
Food companies are sneaky! Any pre-packaged food product you buy should have a nutritional information and ingredient list on the back (note: if it doesn’t, put it down, walk away). Take a quick read through. Even products labelled with catchy phrases such as “90% less fat” or “great source of fibre” usually contain a whole bunch of naughty ingredients.
- If it contains more than seven ingredients, stay away.
- If the first, second or third ingredient listed is sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, or both, it’s diabetes in a box.
- If you cannot pronounce or recognise the ingredients listed, your body probably won’t either.
- Serious no-nos include: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils (trans fats).
6. Do not get discouraged
Yes, they told us fat was bad — OK, now its good. Count your calories, oh wait, calories aren’t that important anymore. Cut out sugar and use sugar-free sources, oh shoots, sugar substitutes cause cancer… Do the best you can, keep with it. Be open to the journey. If you eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time, you will be OK.
7. One simple rule tends to generally apply
The closer your food is to its natural state the better. This means fresh fruits and vegetables will always be good for you. Anything produced in a factory or laboratory, not so much.
8. Doctors don’t know as much as you think
Sad, but true. Very few doctors make the choice to explore nutrition as a healing modality. The average medical doctor receives very little nutritional training and instead focuses on trying to administer quick fixes to existing health problems. Nutrition is prevention: less doctor visits — not a bad thing.
9. Healthy food can taste good!
One of the saddest evolutions of our modern day food supply is taste and convenience over quality. The receptors in our brain are actually tricked by chemical compounds such as MSG to give us a false sense of satisfaction from the fast and packaged foods we consume. Basically, our food is drugs. It gives you a nice high while it slowly tears your body apart. Ugh! You will go through withdrawal. But once your palate is clean, you will be surprised to realise how differently ‘unhealthy’ food tastes and impacts your body!
Remember, you are what you eat! Eat with awareness, eat with gratitude and eat with love.