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Day 2 of wellness week: nutrition-you are what you eat

Day 2 of wellness week: nutrition-you are what you eat

Heather Perry
nutrition

Your health is directly linked to what you eat. So, what are you made of? Are you the epitome of balance and health or are you weighed down by unhealthy foods? Perhaps a mixture of both? If you take a closer look at your diet, where can you make choices to become a healthier version of yourself?

You are what you eat.

In college, I took my first nutrition class and thought it would be an easy A. However, I quickly realized that the subject was way more complex than anticipated. We dove deep into the functions of our bodies and the intricate process of breaking down and absorbing food. Nutrition can be overwhelming, so let’s simplify it by taking it to the basics. 

Here is a quick crash course on the building blocks of nutrition. Nutrition can be broken down into three essential categories.

Nutrients

Our bodies require nutrients to function, which we obtain from the foods we eat. There are three macronutrients that our bodies need: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in our body. Although they provide energy, if consumed excessively, they can be stored as fat. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple (bad), and complex (good). Simple carbs lead to a rise in insulin, leading to feeling hungry soon after eating, and come from sources higher in sugar and processed ingredients. Complex carbs contain fiber and require more work to be broken down causing you to feel full longer. 

Here is a brief list of carbohydrate-containing foods to limit or avoid: sweetened fruit juices, white rice, baked goods such as donuts, cakes, sweets, french fries, chips, and soda. You get the picture. Healthy carbohydrate sources include oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, and fruit.

carb chart

Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient required by every cell in our body. Our bones, skin, muscles, and blood are all made up of cells that contain protein. The protein we consume in our diet is used for growth and repair and acts as the building block for our tissues. Therefore, it is crucial for the proper functioning of our body. The question that arises is how much protein should we consume. To determine the amount of protein that is suitable for your specific body type, you can use this calculator.

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Here’s a list of protein-rich foods you can include in your diet for a healthy lifestyle: Chicken, salmon, peanut butter, lentils, tempeh, chickpeas, and quinoa.

Fats

Like carbohydrates, fats come in good and bad forms. Fats play a crucial role as a source of energy and in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. For a healthy diet, it is essential to include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts. On the other hand, saturated fats and trans fats should be limited as they can have harmful health effects like high cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.

On Day 1, we learned about the Kaizen concept, small changes for long lasting results. We can apply this concept to our diet and identify areas where we can improve. It’s not about following a fad diet but eating in a balanced way. We can start by making small changes and adding healthy food options to our daily routine. Remember the statement “You are what you eat” the next time you sit down for a meal.

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