The old starvation response

There is an incorrect correlation between food and fat that most of us seem to adopt.  On an elementary level, it seems to make sense:  I overeat – therefore I’m fat – therefore I should not eat.  This is why a lot of people begin starvation diets out of desperation.  To make more sense of why this is a bad deduction, consider a sports car.  If you accidentally filled the tank with bad gas, the result would be poor performance.  Would the best fix be not giving it gas at all?  Of course not, you’d simply find a good grade high octane fuel and let her stretch her legs.  Similarly, if you fed your own body bad fuel, which caused it to perform badly (lack of energy, sickness, too much body fat), the best way to correct it is to start feeding it the best fuel available.

Unfortunately , we have some cultural issues working against us.  There is a reason why we’re among the fattest countries in the world and why 17% of our adolescents are fighting obesity.  The American diet is simply flawed.  Our lifestyles, through technology and how we do business, are far more sedentary than in lifetimes past; and, thanks to our busy schedules, our plates are filled with too much saturated fat, sugar, and refined grains from prepared meals.  Additonally, it’s a cultural sign of affluence to serve and eat huge portion sizes.  So, to simply state the issue – we eat too much (quantity) of bad food (quality) while moving a lot less.   With the equation stated as such, the recipe for turning this ship around is simple.  Eat less (quantity) of better foods (quality) and exercise more.  Please note that nowhere in that equation is it clearly stated to stop eating.  Your body requires energy (calories) not only to support your activities, but to sustain your vital involuntary functions.  Not eating enough calories will cause your system to quite literally eat itself to support these functions.  Compound that with a slower metabolism and you’re doing all the things you don’t want to do. 

So, you want to begin change right now?  It’s actually a lot less complicated than you think.  Walk more often, try to get a combined 60 minutes per day.  It could be broken out over time, 10 minutes a clip, if that suits your needs.  Prepare your own meals much more often and keep to a regular eating schedule.  When you make your food choices, make sure your using whole grains (breads, rices, pastas, cereals) with little or no sugar.  Make sure your meats are lean (chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef such as sirloin) and use the fat free versions of your favorite dairy products.  Eat fruits between meals as snacks and include vegetables with lunch and dinner.   Begin to train your body to handle smaller and more frequent meals.  This will avoid over eating and will also level out your blood sugar and energy levels.  It will also avoid the hunger pangs, which are a huge reason why we normally overeat.

The Pillars of Nutrition – Part IV

Part 4 of 4.  There are four principles, so to speak,  in Nutrition –  Adequacy, Variety, Balance, and Moderation.  This week, let’s do a post describing each of them.  If you tailor your eating habits to fit around these categories you will see a remarkable change in your overall health.

Moderation is probably the one that hits home the most.  Whether we abide by it or not, we seem to all know the addage ‘everything in moderation’.  Unfortunately, this gets a lot of folks in trouble.  Rather than regard it literally, most people just use it as a justification tool.  Since it’s in our nature to never have to ‘do without’ we justify what we can to satisfy our appetites.

What you should really take from the term moderation is that all nutrients should be taken in adequate quantities, not simply that bad foods are okay to introduce the to the body in moderation.  Sodium, for example, is something the body requires, however, since it’s so plentiful in our food sources, we tend to live in excess often.  Same is true for fat. 

What a lot of people don’t know is that even an excess of good nutrients can be bad for you.  For example, many vitamins can actually become toxic in excess.  Thankfully, not any of the ones found in every day foods.  However, for this reason, any dietary supplements should be strictly at the advice of a doctor, not simply because you heard there are benefits to adequate supplies.   Truth is, with a balanced diet, you can easily reach all of the recommended daily intakes without worrying about swallowing a pill.

Lastly, with regard to snacking and moderation, make sure you’re erring on the side of seldom with that formula.  Most of our favorite snacks add a lot of fat, calories, and sugar to our diet in very short order.