Addressing the Most Important Component of the "Big 3": Proper Nutrition, March 2009

Addressing the Most Important Component of the “Big 3” (which are Proper Nutrition, Cardiovascular Exercise, and Resistance Training (in case you didn’t know)):

Proper Nutrition

After February’s letter, I decided to talk about the difficult task of eating healthy; something that most people would agree is the toughest part of maintaining overall health. You can find thousands of articles, books, newsletters, and studies on how to eat right, what not to eat, quick fix solution diets among hundreds of different diet plans and nutrition lifestyle programs (e.g. Atkins or the China Study). Basically there is a lot of information out there making it difficult for a lot of us to decipher the truth from myth and to be successful in setting up a healthy nutrition regimen that fits your lifestyle, which is the goal of this letter. Regardless of your health or fitness goals, eating properly is important. It doesn’t matter your age or how active of a lifestyle you have, a sensible “diet” helps keep you in good health, reduces medical bills, increases quality of life, saves you money and prolongs the long sleep six feet under. Having that been said, the most important suggestions I can give is to:

A: keep it simple B: find out what eating habits work for you and your lifestyle.

There are two reasons why eating healthy is difficult:

First is the fact that we have to eat to live. Second is the fact that there are so many foods that taste delicious and readily available access or are easier to prep but are not so good for your body.

Here are the basics:

You can gauge your eating habits by a number of ways including calories, macronutrients, which are fats, carbohydrates and protein, or the types of foods, meaning a choice between grains, nuts, fruits, veggies, dairy products, meats and sweets, to name a few.
So, if we’re keeping it simple, here are some wise food choices:

  • all fruits - high fiber foods
  • all vegetables - lots of water
  • nuts in moderation - low sodium food
  • lean meats like fish, turkey and chicken - beans in moderation
  • low fat dairy products - whole wheat grains
  • sweet potatoes

Simple right? We’ll, here are some eating choices and habits that should be avoided:

  • Fried, breaded, battered or bleached food - fast food
  • high in saturated fat foods - gluten
  • any foods that are processed - going out to eat
  • any foods with high fructose corn syrup

My advice is to first make a few simple changes to your eating habits and build from these. Start with adding more fruit to your diet and a variety too. Everyone has certain types of food that they crave, certain types that they enjoy, dislike, make them full or never seem to satisfy their hunger. This is why I say you need to find a “diet” that works for you. Even if you don’t need to lose weight or if you’re looking to lose 100 pounds, counting calories is a good first plan of attack. Now, it’s not all about calories but it is important to know how many you consume on a typical day and week (3500 calories = 1 pound, you can do the math). Many studies have shown that consuming fewer calories over a lifespan can increase longevity. All this requires is for you to read food labels. In addition, start taking a look at how much fat, carbs and protein you’re consuming. Keep a journal. However, there are other alternatives and plenty of opponents who disagree with calorie counting but it is easy and does not require a lot of extra work. Again, we want to KEEP IT SIMPLE, we just want to figure out if this works for you. You won’t have to do it forever either, just until you get an idea of approximate calories for foods. In the next newsletter, I will discuss more in-depth ideas and provide more solutions to helping you find out what eating habits and tools are necessary to help you make wise food choices that fit your lifestyle and aid you in success at reaching your goals!

Best of luck, Brandon Bartlett