Deciphering Diets and Nutrition
It’s confusing, we understand. You want to be healthy, eat better and have better life balance. Where do you start? Start with the things you can control. Nutrition is one of the easiest things you can control (along with exercise). But what you should eat has been the topic of hot conversation since Gutenberg’s printing press and everyone seems to think they have the best solution to the “Perfect Diet”.
If you Google “nutrition” or “diet” you quickly become overwhelmed and most likely will give up the fight before it begins. In under 1 second Google returns approximately 1,250,000,000 articles on nutrition and 1,460,000,000 suggestions on diet. While some of these are more humorous than practical – I mean who wouldn’t try a cigarette and wine diet or a cookie diet! – the plethora of information thrown at you quickly becomes staggering and mind boggling.
How do you choose which plan is right for you? There's everything from juice fasting, Atkins, Paleo, and Mediterranean to ovo-vegetarianism, fruitarianism, raw food, weight watchers and the DASH diet. All claim to be backed by science and the best way for you to achieve that nutritional balance that leads to a healthier, more fit lifestyle. If you’re like me, your head is already spinning, and we haven’t even touched on the details!
It’s easy to eliminate the fad diets that are ludicrous and probably just downright dangerous. Example: lemonade or grapefruit diet, baby food diet, master cleanse (think Beyoncé), cabbage soup diet and my favorite – the tapeworm diet. Yeah you can image what that one entails.
Setting those aside, and without spending a lifetime trying to figure out whose science makes sense and isn’t backed by some corporation trying to mislead and exploit your self-perpetuating quest for a healthier lifestyle – there’s a few simple things to keep in mind to help you find the path to a happier, more nutritionally balanced you.
Tips for the everyday bloke (or Sheila)
A bit of research of course is necessary – but a cliff notes version. Remember, KISS (keep it simple stupid as my university professors use to say to us). Take away the science and use common sense. Healthy food equals fresh food. Stay away from processed foods, preservatives, watch your intakes of both bad and good things like salt, fats and vitamins. Yes, you are on a journey to make changes. Yes, you will have to put in effort. Yes, you don’t need to make it harder than it needs to be.
1. Take a quick peak. Find a summary of the nutritional plans you’re interested in LIKE THIS LIST to start. You can quickly rule out those that don’t seem to resonate with you by having a peak at the recipe plan. I mean if you don’t like eating lots of vegetables then don’t go with the Mediterranean diet or if you love your carbs the Atkins or Keto diet probably won’t work for you in the long run. Narrow your list down to no more than three.
2. Take a deeper look. Dig deeper into the menu and structure of the plans you’re interested in. If you have a 60+ hour work week and the plan calls for hours of prep, cooking and planning – eliminate it! This is all about something that works with YOUR lifestyle. Of course, you do have to make some effort but find something that doesn’t require you taking a sabbatical just to be able to create healthy meals. If you’re on a budget, don’t pick a plan that requires 30 ingredients for each recipe. Be realistic. It doesn’t mean that you can’t splurge on a 30-ingredient meal or take a Sunday afternoon to prep for the week, but don’t lie to yourself. This is about making changes but often big changes that require us to rework our everyday life don’t last. We want these changes to last a lifetime! Hopefully you can find one that has tasty food, fits your schedule and excites you about trying new flavours on your road to a healthier you!
3. Imagine the week. Now that you’ve narrowed the list down more, look at the menu plan or recipes and imagine how that looks for your week. Run through your day including waking up, working, cooking, shopping, and everything else you do in a given day. Visualizing your day in detail will help you decide how to fit your new health choices into your life. Will you spend time on meal prep during the weekend, are the recipes quick and easy that you can do it after work, is it affordable? Even if you say no to any of these, it doesn’t mean you need to chuck that plan out and start over.
4. Be creative. If you are struggling with one plan fitting exactly into your schedule, there’s two things to remember. First, if your current schedule and lifestyle were working, you wouldn’t be here. You are going to have to make some effort and changes which might be hard at first but will eventually become your new, healthier routine. Second, be creative. If the plan you like calls for more ingredients than you budget for, leave some out or find recipes that utilize the same ingredients so you can multi-purpose them. Better yet, say hi to your old friend Google and look up some less intense recipes. If you love meat and it’s a vegetarian dish, add some meat! It’s your life and your choices, nothing is written in stone.
5. Added benefits. Your eating healthy (and maybe even getting some exercise), life is good, and nutritional balance is no longer a pipedream. While we should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals we need from good, healthy food, that’s not always the case. If you are an avid hater of all things orange you could be missing out on some vital nutrients like vitamin C, potassium or folic acid. Not a big meat eater? Try adding vitamin B12 to balance out what you’re not getting on your plate. Vitamins and minerals from a reputable company like STANDARD PROCESS is an excellent way to ensure you are getting everything your body needs.
6. Get a check-up. Now that you are on your way to making some healthy life changes, see your doc to make sure everything is kosher. If there are any health issues then they may recommend adding or deleting something from your new routine. Don’t forget to visit your chiropractor as well. Chiropractors do more than just necks and backs. They can help resolve several issues from asthma, ADHD, allergies and migraines to blood pressure, heart disease, depression and obesity. This does not mean that an adjustment can cure any of these things. Like any doctor, it means that treatment can manage and care for the patient to combat disease or disorders – and chiropractors are licensed and trained to do just that.
Hopefully you feel you have some direction now to choose a healthier, well-balanced diet. And remember it’s not the science or counting calories (ok that’s kinda important) that matter, if you are eating good, wholesome, fresh food in moderation with a little bit of exercise – you are well on your way to a more balanced, happier life! Now just get out there and like Nike says, “Just Do It!”