Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Spring is here and we are all thinking about spring cleaning. But spring cleaning isn’t all about inside or around the home. It is also about what we put inside our bodies. For example, in the winter, I tend to eat differently than I do in the warmer season… warmer, heavier food. In the summer, I prefer cool, lighter food.
Our journey starts at the dinner table
Like me, you try and eat healthy most of the time. You plan your meals with all the basic food groups which are: “ vegetables and fruits, whole grains (such as whole grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa) and protein foods (lentils, lean red meat, fish, poultry, unsweetened milk and fortified soy beverages, nuts, seeds, tofu, lower fat dairy and cheeses lower in fat and sodium)” – according to the January 22, 2019 Canadian Food Guide
Each food group on our plate has a purpose and also serves a function. We need food to fuel our bodies so that it can do all that it is designed to do. For example, energy to move, nutrients to heal.. not to mention our mental health. You must have been “hangry” at least once in your life. I know I have.
The food we eat is broken down into chemicals that are delivered throughout our body. But how does each body component receive and treat the final food bi-products?
Each food group on our plate has a purpose and a serves a function.
A three Component model of your body composition
Lean body mass: Muscles, nervous tissue, skin and organs. The lean body mass contributes to the energy production of the body.
Body Fat: Essential body fat and stored body fat.
Skeletal System: 206 bones (for adults) and bone tissue (including cartilage). The skeletal system’s function is to move, support and protect the various organs in our body. Produces red and white blood cells and store minerals.
We hear a lot about bad fats, also called saturated fats and unsaturated fats. We don’t hear as often about correct fats, also called dietary fats.
Eating too much saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart disease. You can find these fats in meat and other animal products. (butter, milk, cheese, etc.). You can also find saturated fat in high amounts in coconut oil and palm oil. Side note: If you use DIY coconut body oil, don’t’ worry about the added fats in your system.. the absorption of coconut oil via the skin is not the same as Essential oils and medication such hormone patches. (READ HERE FOR MORE INFO)
Unsaturated fats are the fats that are good for you. You can find these in plant food and fish. I was told by a nutritionist that some of the best “good fats” are in albacore tuna, salmon, olive oil and even peanut oil. (I am proud to say that Miranda mentions the same exact fats in our Essentrics Instructor’s Manuel Level 4)
Dietary fats help the body grow and develop. It absorbs vitamins, fuels the body, is used as building blocks, produces important hormones, and acts as insulation to the nervous system tissue. Yes! Fat that is good for us! We find this type of fat in lean meats, fish, avocado, pumpkin seeds and olive oil. (click here to find more dietary fat foods)
There are several different types of carbs. We have simple carbs, complex carbs and starchy.
The simple carbohydrates are the sugars and starches used in the metabolic pathways to create energy or ATP. Your body finds these easier to digest and quickly break them down into sugar. They are also the ones that will give you a sugar high, followed by a sugar crash. Healthy choices are fruits and vegetables. Not so good choices are fruit juices and white breads as they have no nutritional value.
Complex carbohydrates contain more nutrients and are more difficult to digest, making them healthier for us than the simple carbs. You can find them in high fiber vegetables like mushrooms (my fav), spinach and broccoli (I eat a lot of each). Other options are brown and wild rice, barley and quinoa. Ask your doctor, ask a nutritionist, or google it, there are so many yummy options out there.
Lastly, the starchy carbohydrates. Not all starches are created equal. We can find both healthy and unhealthy starchy carbs. Your body will digest some of them quickly while others more slowly. When digested quickly, it can cause a fast and high rise in your blood sugar. When digested slowly, blood sugar tends to not rise as much and over a longer period of time. Starchy carbs can be found in grains such as wheat, rice, oats, and as I am sure you already know, potatoes and corn. We make flour out of grains to make bread, cereal, pasta, cakes, pie crust and etc. My go to starchy carbohydrates are whole beans and lentils.
Proteins are the main building blocks of our body. But what exactly do we mean by the building blocks? Twenty amino acids are the molecular building blocks of protein. Let’s divide them into two groups: Essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. Protein from food gives your body the 10 essential amino acids that it cannot produce. (Your body produces the 10 non-essential amino acids). Protein breaks down into amino acids and ensures growth and repair of body tissue or elimination of excess body waste. The daily dietary requirement amount of amino acids per person depends on your age and health. Yogurt, nuts, seeds, meat, and beans are all examples of protein sources.
One you have eaten the food on your plate, the breakdown process begins. The food is broken down into glucose, fatty acids and amino acids, that are then delivered to your cells. Some of these components are either used immediately or are stored.
FACT: Glucose is a primary source of energy for the brain. Ever get “hangry”? When your glucose is low, the psychological process needed for mental effort like self-control, anger management, depression and difficult decision-making… are impaired.
Food to fuel
Our food has gone from our plate, to our cells, to being utilized in producing energy and building muscle. Strong muscles burn calories, helping us maintain a healthy weight. Strong and healthy muscles give us a sense of well-being and allow us the freedom of movement.
Words to remember: The way we think, feel and move can all be linked to what we eat. – What we eat is what fuels us. – We are what we eat.
Yours in health, happiness and success, Nancy Shimmy