I love food. I mean, really. I do.
I love the taste, the texture, the aroma. The thought of trying a new dish personally crafted by my husband, ordering an old favorite at a place we frequent, or perusing the menu at a fancy restaurant makes my mouth water in great anticipation of the first bite! Truly, eating brings me great excitement.
So, to be anything other than nutrition agnostic just doesn't fit into my lifestyle!
When people come to me looking for solutions to their nutrition, they are secretly hoping I will give them a list of "bad" foods. Foods that are NOT to be consumed. Foods that must be avoided at all costs. Sometimes it's red meat, sometimes carbs, sometimes it's gluten, sometimes it's fat. But, regardless of what's ailing them, they are certain the first step that must be taken is restriction, hunger and deprivation. Right? Isn't that what the mainstream media outlets want us to believe?!
And, then I drop the bombshell: I DON'T focus on food rules, I focus on a client's needs.
"WHAT?! My needs? What does that have to do with anything?! I just want results!"
But, here is the problem when we start restricting foods. People focus on the badness of a particular nutrient, rather than on eating high-quality, delicious food mindfully.
For instance, during the low-fat craze, Americans didn't get healthier, we actually got fatter... how can that be?
People ended up eating a lot more processed foods. People often felt less satisfied with their meals (because fat releases satiety hormones) and ended up eating more overall. People ate more processed foods and sugars and salt to make up for the missing fat... not to mention an extra dose of chemicals.
People focused on the nutrient itself, instead of considering their whole diet in a broader context.
The same goes for carbohydrates.
Contrary to the latest fad diets... there is no "correct" amount of carbohydrates that is the same for everyone, all the time.
These factors all play a big role:
- how big or small someone is
- how much lean mass or body fat they have
- how active they are
- how intense, long lasting and/or frequent that activity is
- how old they are
- intake levels of other macronutrients
- what foods they like, tolerate and prefer to eat
- what their overall goals are
Just like fat, carbs often get the brunt of the blame for the obesity epidemic in America. And, while it's true that simple, refined and highly processed carbs have little room in our diet, complex carbs are vital nutrients.
Complex carbs that come from whole food sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains tend to keep us feeling full longer. They also travel with passengers: micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and water -- perhaps even some protein and healthy fats. They keep our blood sugar and insulin levels stable, releasing their energy gradually.
Simple, refined and highly processed carbs digest quickly but tend to leave us unsatisfied. They've been stripped of nutrients. Their passengers are often high amounts of sodium along with industrial chemicals such as flavorings, trans fat or preservatives. They stimulate our appetite and leave us wanting more. They can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and insulin levels.
Before I start restricting foods, removing foods or giving any nutrition protocols my #1 question/research project is this:
Are you eating the right foods, in the right amounts, for the right reasons?
Everything else is secondary.
Before scrutinizing your carbs, proteins or eliminating anything (besides those yucky highly processed, chemically altered, made in a laboratory foods) use this as a checklist:
- How much food are you eating each day?
- Are you stuffed or are you satisfied?
- How are you eating each day?
- Are you slowing down to taste and enjoy your food mindfully?
- Why are you eating each day?
- Are you eating when you're truly physically hungry?
- What are you eating each day?
- Are you eating mostly whole, fresh minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and/or beans and legumes?
Are you doing #1 and #4 consistently?
Until you get these basics down, the other, more complex "stuff" really doesn't matter.
Remember, diets don't work. Not for the long-term anyway. For results that last, you must be focused on the 4 key items listed above. This is TRULY the way to dieting freedom for life!
Commit to saying NO to diets in 2017!!
Fuel your body, don't food your body!