A piece about the basics of nutrition and why it is important.
I remember being in high school and not caring about what I was putting into my body. I felt sick after almost every meal throughout a day (digestion problems, bloating, upset stomach). These digestive issues started when I was about fourteen. Three years ago, I found out I am highly allergic to eggs and slightly intolerant to gluten. To add, I also notice digestive problems after eating dairy, meat and fried foods. To add even more, I am a vegetarian. At first, I was devastated that I couldn’t eat my favourite foods but realistically I just had to make some responsible changes in my diet. I guess you could say I follow a strict diet, however; it is based off a combination of my own beliefs and not wanting to feel sick after eating anymore.
Eating should be enjoyable, not scary. I will admit I have a hard relationship with food sometimes but I am trying each day to not restrict myself too much. I want to eat to feel good and to power myself throughout the day since I am walking around 12 km daily. I also want to enjoy my favourite foods without having to feel guilty or sick after.
Through years of trial and error, I now understand what my body likes to digest. I had never really enjoyed eating meat as a child and felt very confident in becoming vegetarian 4 years ago, but once the eggs, gluten and dairy were out of the question as well, I became scared that I couldn’t eat anything at all. I guess you could say I am close to being a vegan (no animal products at all) but I don’t like to restrict myself from homemade dinners and treats. If someone offers me a cookie, I will usually take it but have to deal with the consequences after (gas, bloating, upset stomach, acne). I also will sometimes eat fish if my own family or myself catches it (so I know where it comes from). Personally, this is the diet I follow to nourish my body and respect my allergies
-I try hard to limit sugar, additives, processed foods, fried foods and artificial anything
This is what works best for me. What works best for you may be something completely different. So why don’t I classify myself as a vegan? People ask me this often or just assume that I am one but to be honest I am not following these diets for the labels. I intend to one day be vegan but as of right now to fuel my body and cravings I sneak in some dairy at times.
Where I want to go with this article is to stress how food can be used as medicine instead of being harmful to yourself. The human body is like a plant. We need sun, water and nutrients to flourish! It is amazing how many issues can be solved within the body when you are eating the proper nutrients for yourself.
Nutrition has always been a passion of mine and I hope to pursue a career in it one day. Hopefully focusing on sport nutrition with professional athletes. I want to make this simple for everyone to understand. Since this isn’t yet thought of as mandatory by schools to teach children, many people lack the basic knowledge of a healthy diet. Canada’s Food Guide gives an extremely BASIC meal plan to follow and can be a great reference for newbies. This is a very basic outline of an extremely complex topic.
There are 3 main macronutrients (consumed in large quantities) your body uses to produce energy. These are necessary for growth and daily living.
-CARBOHYDRATES (get turned into sugar for energy)
-fruit and vegetables
-FATS (also used for energy)
-avocados, nuts, seeds
-PROTEINS (build muscle and carry out cellular functions)
-dairy and meat
In addition, there are multiple micronutrients (consumed in lesser quantities) we need to consume as well. These are necessary to maintain your health and proper body functions.
-iron, zinc selenium
-sodium, potassium, calcium
POWERING OUR BODY
Through food, we power our body. If we are eating unhealthy, low nutrient dense foods, we may not be able to perform optimally. Typically, the average person should be consuming these macronutrient ratios
CARBOHYDRATES (45-65% of daily food intake)
FATS (20-35% of daily food intake)
PROTEINS (15-25% daily food intake)
These percentages vary based on genetics, gender, age, and goals. Most of us are not consuming the proper amounts of these macronutrients. If there is one thing I want people to be eating more of, it is protein. Protein does not provide mass amounts of energy like carbs and fats do but it does increase muscle mass in the body. Having an increased amount of muscle mass aids in carrying out daily tasks, prevents injuries and keeps the body healthy and strong.
Food has always had the ability to affect your body holistically which we tend to ignore. It can change your mood, temperature, physique, energy and cognitive functions. Once you begin starting to eat things that will produce positive effects in the body you will notice you feel better in many aspects. Food is brain power.
Through years of experimenting with food, food allergies, supplements and vitamins here are some ideas of what I like to include daily to stay healthy. Remember every body is different and this is what works for myself most. You may have some individual preferences but this is a good idea of what everyone needs for a healthy body, mind and soul.
MY BASIC HEALTH TIPS
Personally, I always want to try out the weirdest foods. I love everything green. Here is a quick list of some of my favourite foods I aim to eat everyday and their potential benefits to your health.
I’m going to repeat myself again by saying that this is a simple outline of a very complex topic. It took me years to figure out what my body digests properly and I still have more to explore. Don’t rush the process of making changes in your diet but slowly adapt yourself to eliminating toxins and chemicals. Making healthier choices will only give you positive benefits in the long run.
I encourage you to eat to nourish your body not hurt it. Eat to heal yourself. To allow yourself to grow properly. Be grateful of your ability to obtain food whenever you want it. Don't take on flash diets or quick fixes. Make a lifestyle change for long term results. My goal is always to feel better to be able to perform better in all of life’s aspects (fitness, relationships, happiness, health) and I hope this can help some people become more aware of their eating as well.
Thank you for reading my opinion on nutrition and what I do to help me flourish. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. Maybe one day when I have more time I can start posting recipes. The picture for this article is a green smoothie bowl with coconut chips, matcha, seeds and frozen chocolate covered bananas.