The basics of good nutrition
Nutrition is a subject that has been written, spoken and debated about, many times. Over the years there were different opinions as to what is good nutrition exactly. Some Nutritionists and Dieticians, will tell you that you should eat a balanced meal, where you incorporate all the different food groups. Others will tell you to eat less of / eliminate all together, one or more foodstuffs. So, what do you think, dear readers? What are the basics of good nutrition?
For me, the basics of good nutrition are eating a variety of foodstuffs, from all the different food groups, but always listening to your body. Before the time of fridges and modern agriculture, our family and ancestors ate what was in season. When you look at the Bushmen of the Kalahari, for example, they still eat according to the seasons. Listening to a video, the other day on YouTube, by Eric Edmeades from Wild Fit, he said that the biggest mistake we make today, is to eat out of season and attach emotions to our eating. Enjoying a meal is great, but when you teach your child that “she is a good girl” for finishing her plate (when in fact she told you she is full and cannot eat anymore), then that child learns that, in order to be a “good girl,” you must eat more than you can stomach. Another example of emotional eating, is when you give a child a biscuit or sweet for “good behaviour.”
Eating only the things that are in season, connects your internal body clock, digestive system and metabolism, with the natural cycles of nature and yourself. Living in a modern world, with fast food-places on every corner of cities and towns, have become a norm, but also an “eye sore.” Why? Because it has made people lazy to cook their own, nutritious meals at home and, unlike their advertising, do not contain healthy ingredients at all. Ready-made meals are much the same. Convenient yes, but truly healthy? Not really, due to the hidden sugars, added salts and preservatives, to keep it fresh for longer.
Looking back at the days gone by, when people used, produced and ate home-cooked meals, were days when there were rarely, if ever, someone suffering from obesity, diabetes, gluten intolerance and the like. Yes, there were people who were allergic, but in those days not many knew what an allergy was, let alone how to treat it. However, because the people cooked at home more often than not, they could control the amount of sugar, salts and other things, went into the dishes. Another key factor, in the days gone by, is that many or most people were active. They walked a lot, worked outside in their gardens, in the homes and kept active. Today, many people struggle being overweight, due to the minimum or no exercise at all; plus, their eating habits.
There is a saying that “you are what you eat.” That is completely true. Exercising can help you tremendously, but if you don’t eat healthy and make sure that your meals are nutritious, then all your effort could go to waste. I am not saying that you are not allowed to eat a pizza once a month, or have an ice cream when it is hot. Not at all. But it is not just the amount you need to be aware of, but also the portion size.
What to do? In a nutshell, I think we should go back to basics. First off, we should make a conscious decision to eat more healthy (if that is the goal), then plan our meals. Adding a variety of foodstuffs on your plate and your menu, will make it exciting and appealing to eat. Making sure your portion sizes are not bigger than your hand / fist (depending on your age), is another way to keep an eye on the size and amount you eat. Reprogramming yourself to not eat when you are in an emotional state, for example angry, hurt, disappointed, and the like, is vital to change your habits and your size. The basics of good nutrition is to make sure that your meals are balanced. This includes carbohydrates, fibre, fats and oils, proteins, vitamins and minerals and water.
The basics of good nutrition boils down to listening to your body and eating more raw foods and less processed foods. Carbohydrates and fibre, which many dietitians say is bad, is actually needed by the body to digest protein. However, refined sugars and starches, like white breads, cakes, white flour, and so on, are the ones you need to eat less of and/or cut out altogether. Instead, opt for grains like rye, whole wheat, spelt, as well as vegetables and fresh fruits. These foods contain the vitamins, minerals and fibre you need. It also slows down the release of sugar; giving you more energy for a longer period, as well as keeping your blood sugar levels more even.
Fats, oils and proteins are important for our bone health, our brain health, as well as for growth, maintenance and repair of our body, our body cells and our joints. Hard fats, which the body struggle to absorb and digest, are best to stay clear of or eat very little of. Also called saturated fats are often the cause of high cholesterol-levels, due to the difficulty of absorbing and digesting it. Unsaturated fats, like the different oils, fish, lean cuts of meat and so on, are good to add to your diet. Not only is it brain food, but it also keeps the joints lubricated.
Vitamins and minerals are naturally found in organic and free-range foodstuffs. Unfortunately today, many foods are produced en masse, is full of antibiotics, growth hormones, synthetic additives and preservatives, and who knows what else. Opting for organic, fresh produce and making it yourself, is a much better option. Lastly, water is always key to staying hydrated, healthy and maintaining a glowing skin; so make sure to drink enough!