Upon being asked to write a piece about nutrition I pondered for some time about which aspect I should address. It is such a rich subject matter that wanting to produce something beneficial and relevant was going to be a challenge. I decided to strip everything back to a basic level. My hope is that you will find the following information useful and it will nudge you into exploring & experimenting.
So, what is my personal philosophy about health and nutrition? The fact is it doesn’t really matter what my own eating habits and beliefs are, we are all individuals; you need to find what works for you. That’s why the broad subject of nutrition and what is considered healthy is so complicated – vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, gluten free, paleo, eating clean, wheat free, dairy free, high fat, low fat, high carb, low carb, intermittent fasting not to mention the Atkins, Cambridge, Mediterranean or Grapefruit diet or those more organised groups at Slimming World and Weight Watchers.
What makes us all different? Age, gender, height & weight, level of daily activity, when – where and how often you go to work, religious and cultural beliefs, level of organisation, your gastro-intestinal biome, medical issues, personal preferences and tastes.
What are the basics? We all need a balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins (macro nutrients), along with vitamins and minerals (micro nutrients). We also need to be in a hydrated state as all chemical reactions for health and development take place in a hydrated state. The average person should be drinking 8 glasses of fluid per day, mostly water. Fibre is also hugely important and often overlooked – beans, lentils, fruit and cereals are a good source.
My guidelines for making improvements to your diet are:
- Reduce the amount of refined sugar consumed, eat more complex carbohydrates – oats, (sweet) potatoes, rice, pasta
- Eat quality fats – avocado, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts
- Eat lean protein – chicken and fish, pulses and beans, quinoa
- Drink more water
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
- Avoid processed foods
What would be a balanced meal? Without the need for counting and weighing everything you eat there is a simple way of getting the right balance and portion size by using your hand:
I hope that this brief introduction has been useful. I have included a 7 Step guide to improving your daily nutrition which you can work through in your own time. [EDIT – Link is here https://1drv.ms/f/s!AoBdVJVrMbKigd159kHsQ1zWKByf3w Looking forward there is going to be more coverage of plant based nutrition. There is a growing wealth of scientific studies promoting the benefits of removing meat and dairy products from your diet. This is further enhanced by ultra-distance triathletes, top tier tennis professionals and MMA athletes all adopting this approach. The benefits are easily absorbed proteins, complex carbohydrates with fibre, reduced inflammation and plenty of healthy fats with vitamins and minerals in abundance. Although not for everyone my personal thoughts are that this approach has benefits for everyone but it can be difficult to maintain, especially if you eat out a lot. I tried this for January and have introduced a lot of the foods that I had during that period into my weekly meals. As I said at the beginning the key is to find what works for you by a process of experimenting and exploring new food combinations.
Free Apps that might be useful:
- MyFitnessPal – this app links with Garmin Connect and can be programmed to introduce nutrition data into Garmin to compliment your training sessions. It has a useful barcode scanner to record what you eat
- SpoonGuru – this app can be programmed for what type of diet you wish to follow and will then scan barcodes to tell you if the food you are scanning is compatible
- Eat This Much – this app, when programmed with your requirements, will make suggestions for meals and snacks throughout the day. www.eatthismuch.com
- Google – It is an encyclopaedia of food – this works best on a computer. If you type in a food stuff to google you will notice on the right-hand side of the page is the nutritional break down of that food stuff.
Further viewing that might challenge your perspective:
- Forks over Knives – a look at plant based nutrition
- What the Health – a new documentary film that I have only read reviews, a further look at what food is ‘healthy’ and set out to show that a plant based diet was the best way and found the term ‘Frugivores’ might best suit humans – check it out…
- Cowspiracy – a look at the environmental impact of the food industry