Nutrition – what’s it all about? 7 easy ways to improve your health and eating habits

harvard-food-pyramid-150x150The Oxford dictionary defines nutrition as the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material.  To relate to us (humans), it’s the necessary process that we go through every day to stay alive. Over the centuries, we’ve developed all sorts of tastes and recipes to improve the enjoyment of eating food. In the last 20 years, advances in nutrition have been extraordinary as science has started to unravel the workings of the human body. However, the modern world offers a confusing message on nutrition as companies try to sell you every type of health product and diet regime that will magically provide you with supreme health and the body you’ve always wanted. The truth however is somewhat more complicated but there are several simple steps that everyone can follow to achieve optimum nutrition.

Drink at least 2 litres of water per day. The human body is 70% water. If exercising, a ½ litre every ½ hour of exercise. Your muscles if dehydrated will not work properly if not properly hydrated. Coffee and soft drinks add to dehydration are so readily available that it’s very easy to choose these options rather than plain old water.
Eat Breakfast. Often called the most important meal of the day. So many people who want to lose weight tend to skip breakfast with the idea that eating less will mean they will lose weight. However, there are so many ill effects from skipping meals including low blood sugar, low energy, an uneven distribution of calories and the tendency to overeat when you do finally eat. A healthy breakfast might include a slow releasing carbohydrate like porridge with fruit and a protein element like eggs after.
3. Eat regularly throughout the day. The secret is to eat 6 times a day (on a average 12-14 hour day, more if your day is longer). With 3 meals containing 60%, protein, 20% carbohydrate and 20% healthy fats and 3 snacks preferably with a protein content.
4. Incorporate whole grains into your daily diet as much as possible. They are full of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytochemicals (plant compounds) that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They also help the body process nutrients, such as carbohydrates. Choose whole wheat flour products over highly processed white flour whenever you can. Eat whole grain bran muffins, whole wheat bread, cereals, pasta and whole grain brown rice.
5. Increase your intake of healthy omega-3 fatty acids to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Eat fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, twice a week. Avocados, or a handful of walnuts, Brazil nuts or pumpkin seeds eaten regularly can also boost omega-3 levels in your body. Another option is adding flaxseed oil (keep it refrigerated) to smoothies or pasta (under the sauce), or ground flaxseeds to baked goods and pancakes.
6. Become label savvy. Learn to read food labels for fat, sugar, and portion size. So many food labels are written to mislead the consumer into thinking there is less fat and less sugar. Often when advertised as a low fat option, the producer has replaced the fat with sugar creating a product that Low fat, high sugar).  The body converts excess sugar to fat.
7 Choose real food over processed foods. Preferably organic produce if available as this is should contain no chemicals and can be eaten entirely.
Choosing one of these options each week could drastically Improving your nutrition. After all “you are what you eat”.

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