I am convinced nutrition is a very important part of our daily lives and health. I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of nutrition but I am an expert in the field of “my” nutrition. The difference is that I have adapted my mind set in such a way that I have control over my nutrition and what goes into my body and how I feel.
This is a struggle but I believe each person can do this. You can learn to identify your physiological needs and make the proper adjustments to achieve your fitness goals in a healthy way.
And this is how…
Study material about nutrition so that your are up to date on recent findings and trends. This will allow you to make the most informed decision possible. In the past I have made decisions about my nutrition based on out dated information. I have also hesitated to change my diet based on lack of available knowledge. I urge everyone to educate themselves about this issue… because it is an issue. The issue is that if you don’t take control of your diet and nutrition someone or some company will. The problem with this is, most often capitalism and profit is more important to those people then your health and best interest.
The second way to adapt is to Study your body. How you say?
My first suggestions would be to monitor your calories. I suggest this to many people. Initial reactions range from agreement to disbelief. Some people don’t believe that I record every single things that goes into my body or believe that they could do it. It is possible and with some practice/assistance it becomes an almost effortless task. Start with a program or website that can help you find the nutritional information of the food you are eating. My favorite is MyFitnessPal which is free!
Once you do that you will have a better sense of your nutritional requirements. As you look up these items you will also better understand the nutritional content of the foods you consume and the effects on your diet. One thing that may surprise you is how small portion sizes seem in relation to how much food is actually served and how much we believe a serving is.
It takes 21 days to create a habit suggests one book I have read. After a month of recording your calories is will become second nature. I don’t even think about it anymore. It takes me a total of 5 minutes a day to log it once or twice a day. This 5 minute investment is well worth it. It educates me, helps me feel better and provides a number of benefits. One of the most important benefits in my opinion is self-control and discipline.
After doing this until you are comfortable with recording your daily intake, start to look at your body and physiological indicators. As you tweak your diet you will find that your body reacts in different ways. For instance, if you are restricting calories to reach a certain health weight you may find that you feel weak. Upon further inspection you realize that you have not consumed enough carbohydrates to sustain the physical activities you take part in. In that case you know you need to consume foods with more carbs.
Cravings are sometimes the sign of a nutritional need. If you crave something salty, you may have restricted your sodium intake (hard to do in Canada). Pay attention to what your body is telling you, it is your best indicator of nutritional success.
Of course there are exceptions to almost everything I stated here. I will be the first to admit that our bodies and our nutritional landscape is a very complex system. We must constantly educate ourselves and adapt to changes in this environment to be health and ultimately survive.
If you are living in North America may I suggest starting with this video:
Sugar: The Bitter Truth
This may all seem overwhelming at first. The best thing to do is just dive in and swim around for a bit in the vast body of knowledge available on nutrition. You will quickly find your way as we all have specific needs and unique ways of adapting.