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  • Writer's pictureJenkins Health Coaching

Navigating diets and nutrition

Updated: May 8, 2020

There is an overwhelming amount of contradictory information about diet and nutrition. Trying to navigate through all this information can be overwhelming and discouraging. However, following a nutritious and healthy diet can be quite simple.  Even those suffering from food allergies or food intolerances can eat a very well balanced diet. We are unique regarding nutritional requirements and overtime you will learn what works for you.  

Below are some tips on how to get started with a nutritious and healthy diet.

Water: There are many differing opinions on how much water you should drink a day. It is commonly recommended to drink approximately 2 liters of water daily. Water has many health benefits: it regulates body temperature, aids in digestion, helps flush waste from the body, increases accessibility to minerals and nutrients and promotes healthy skin.  Human bodies are composed of 60% water and it is vital to stay hydrated. 

Fruits, vegetables & berries:  Fruits, vegetables and berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre and aid in the maintenance of a healthy gut by preventing constipation and other digestive problems. Many studies support the wide range of health benefits from a vegetarian diet: from preventing cardiovascular disease to different types of cancer. If a vegetarian diet is not suitable for you, you can still enjoy the bountiful benefits of fruits and vegetables by making them a daily staple in your diet. 

Whole grains:  Whole grains are the healthiest types of grains to include in your diet. Whole grains are naturally high in fiber and provide more nutrients than refined grains. Whole grains have also shown to lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain types or cancer. Refined grains lose many nutrients during the refinement process and are digested too quickly by the body. 

Quality of the food:  The quality of your food and where it is sourced allow you to identify where your food is coming from and what you are putting in your body.  For example, if meat, poultry and seafood are staples of your diet, pay attention to the origin of where this protein is sourced. This also pertains to any other food that you eat (fruits, vegetables, diary etc.). Large amounts of antibiotics, hormones and pesticides are used to raise livestock and in non organic farming, and these pesticides eventually end up in our system. If organic is not an option due to higher price or availability, you can choose producers that are familiar to you and source locally. It is also equally important to wash fruits and vegetables before consumption as pesticides are often sprayed directly on the food you buy. 

Healthy snacks: Healthy snacks such as unsalted nuts, berries, fresh or dried fruits can help with weight management.  Blood sugar can drop if the time between meals is too long. Instead of choosing food that is high in sugar and/or unhealthy fats, to quiet your hunger, select something that is satisfying and also good for your body. There are many different theories available on how often we should eat. It is important to learn to read your body and recognise your needs and what is right for you.

Portion size:  Portion size is a common culprit of overeating. We often eat too much or more than is needed out of a habit and for the taste. Consuming adequate portion sizes is an efficient tool for healthy weight management.

Processed food:  Processed food is everywhere and sometimes difficult to identify. However, you can minimize how much of this food you eat by learning to recognize them and only including them in your daily diet when necessary.  Over processed foods are lower in nutrients and are harder for the body to digest. Healthy nutrients disappear during the production process and are substituted for sugar, salt and unhealthy trans fats that are added in large quantities to processed food to improve the taste and extend its shelf life.

Calories:  Not all calories are equal. 100 calories from an apple vs. from a cookie have a significant difference in nutrient value. An apple is full of vitamins, nutrients and minerals needed for your body to function properly.  A cookie will only provide sugar and fat with very little nutritional content. 

There are several diets recognized for being proficient for weight loss. However, a diet that is too restrictive and deficient in adequate calories is not sustainable for good health and eventually will fail.  Approximately95% of people who lose weight by dieting will gain it back in 1 to 5 years. In addition, fad diets are harmful because they are temporary solutions that can wreak havoc on your metabolism and teach you nothing about healthy eating and nutrition.

I promote 90/10 mindset in nutrition. It means that one can eat nutritious whole foods 90 percent of the time while the remaining 10 percent can be devoted to “cheat meals”. It is important to remember that it is just a “cheat meal” and not a “cheat day”. “Cheat meals” can be a part of a healthy diet, but “cheat days” can ruin a diet

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