Are you a healthy eater? If you are taking the time to be here, I imagine that is your goal. How do we decide what to eat? What makes up a healthy diet? There is no “one size fits all” eating plan. Some will swear by their keto/ paleo diet; others will follow commercial diet programs. The key is to find a sustainable way to give your body what it needs, no more, no less.
Here are some things to consider when you are choosing what to eat.
1. Whole foods are better than something that has been processed. This means the closer it is to what was grown the more “whole” it is. An apple is better than store-bought applesauce.
2. You need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Reading labels can help when it is processed food. By balance I don’t mean equal amounts of each. You need about 50% of your intake to be carbs, 20-30% protein, and 20-30% fats. If you have an excess of any of these components, it will be stored as fat. So weightlifters that increase their protein to build more muscle may be building their fat stores if their intake is greater than their exercise output.
3. That brings us to Portion size. For whole fruits and vegetables, a portion is what fits in your hand. So a child portion is what fits in their hand, not an adult's. For meat, the rule of thumb is a piece the size of a deck of cards. For snacks and cereals and other packaged foods, reading the label is so important. A bag of chips may look like a single serving but the label may say there are 3.5 servings! I think the common practice is to keep the number of calories in a serving to 100-200 calories so if you don’t read the fine print, if you eat the whole bag, you’ve eaten 3.5 times more than you thought.
4. Some people think that a healthy diet involves calorie counting. I am not saying to never think about calories but for the most part, strict calorie counting leads to a very restricted diet and a lot of deprivation. That is just not sustainable. You feel derived too long and you go off your diet. But if most of the time you make good choices, then once a week or month, you let yourself eat fries or key lime pie or cookies (name your favorites). Intermittent fasting can lead to feelings of deprivation and then overeating. But if you fast for too long, your body will think you are in a situation of low food supply and then extract more from each morsel, making you more likely to store fat to protect yourself in lean times. It is also not recommended for a child’s developing brain to go more than 12 hours without food.
5. Eat a rainbow is the saying to remind you that vitamins and minerals tend to be color-coded. By that I mean that vitamin A tends to be in the orange/red vegetables, dark green leafy will have iron and B vitamins. Vitamin E is in your mixed nuts. If you are on a restricted diet, supplements may be necessary. For the average Minnesotan, taking vitamin D during the kid’s school year is what I recommend. Most of us get enough in the summer months from our sun/UV exposure. Women should consider calcium supplements to help keep up bone density.
So what will you eat after our walk? If you were going to reward yourself with Dairy Queen, go ahead, don’t deprive yourself, maybe pick a smaller size? Think moderation. Let's walk!