You are what you eat…

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Over the last couple of years, I have focused mainly on movement of the body; the output of energy or calories. In this column, I would like to address the input of energy or calories. When I hear the word nutrition, the first thing that pops into my mind is the pyramid that we were all taught in grade school. I have since learned through my continued studies that there is so much more to it than that.  Just like the fuel we put into the engines on our boats needs to be of a certain quality, the fuel that we feed our bodies also needs to be of a certain quality. We wouldn’t even consider using diesel that had water in it, why then, do we choose to eat junk food and chemicals that damage our systems? In addition to taking into consideration that what we eat not only affects our physical health, we must remember that our psychological health is affected as well.

If we want to live a healthy balanced life, we must follow some simple guidelines when it comes to nutrition:

Variety is the Spice of Life

Eat a variety of foods.  This not only keeps your meals interesting, but insures that a right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat as well as a other nutrients are taken in allowing the body to develop and function properly. Make sure that your meals are colorful. The more colorful your meals are, the more likely you are getting the variety of nutrients your body needs. 

 Listen to your Body

Our bodies are our greatest teachers. Begin noticing how you feel after you eat certain foods. Which foods give you energy? Which foods make you feel sluggish? Once we are aware of the reaction our bodies have when we eat certain foods we then have the choice to eat the foods that enhance our lives rather than deplete it. Keep in mind also, that every body is different and will respond to different foods in different ways. What works for your partner, or other family member, may not work for you.

 Super Size It – NOT!

Watch the size of your portions. Research has shown that it is not only what we eat that is causing the obesity epidemic in America, but the size of the portions. Over the years food portions have grown larger and larger, and not just at fast food restaurants. Studies show that whether we are eating at home, or in a restaurant, from 1970 to 1990 portion sizes almost doubled in size.

 And just what does a healthy serving size look like?

  • One ounce of meat or cheese is about the same as the size of your thumb from base to tip.
  • A cup of fruit should be no larger than your fist.
  • Three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry (a normal serving) is about the size of your palm.
  • One to two ounces of nuts equals your cupped hand.

Here are some more tips to help with portion (and calorie) control:

  • Serve your meals on salad plates instead of large dinner plates.
  • Store snack foods in tiny sandwich bags so you are sure you’re eating no more than one portion.
  • When ordering out, share your entrée with a friend.
  • Ask for a kids’ meal or small size. Never go for a super-size portion.
  • Fill up on fresh green salads, fruit, and vegetables instead of high-fat foods, breads, pasta, and desserts.

 Include Supplements

Because of nutrient depleted soil, pollution and the introduction of genetically modified organisms, the nutrient level of the foods we eat today are not the same as those that where available even 50 years ago.  In order to get all the nutrients that the body needs it is important to find a supplement that works for your body. I get asked all the time what I suggest, and I can only answer that I can’t. Once again, each of our bodies is different and has different needs.

 Drink Water!

Yes, there is an exclamation mark after this one. This is the one thing that we all know, but very few of us do. One easy way to know if you are drinking enough water is by the color of your pee. (and yes, I said that!) Your pee should be clear in color with no odor. If not… drink more water until it is. We found some great water bottles this year that are the exact size of what our daily water intake should be. We fill it up in the morning, and make sure it is empty before the next morning. No more guessing.

 Ayurvedic wisdom, dating back over 5000 years teaches us that many of our western culture eating habits are not so healthy, including eating dessert after our meals and salad before our meals.  The basic premise to the ayurvedic diet is that the food that is eaten be fresh (without pesticides, additives and other chemicals), seasonal, and as often as possible local. Fresh doesn’t, however, mean raw. The best are freshly cooked, whole meals.  I believe that buying food items that are free of pesticides, additives, antibiotics and other chemicals is imperative for a healthy diet.  Buying “happy” meat is also a good idea. Wouldn’t you rather eat a cow or a chicken that had lived it’s life outside with lots of space and sunshine than one that lives in a small enclosure filled with it’s own waste?

Nutrition is an extensive subject, and I have only but touched the tip of the iceberg of information. I encourage you to do your own research and make wise choices.

So… what’s for dinner?

Peace, Love, & Laughter

Kim Hess

Pirate Yogini

Find me on Facebook:  Tropic Yoga & Sail Adventures

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