Several things have happened this year that have really made me take a closer look at nutrition. I’ve realized that most people have no idea what it means to eat healthy. I’ve realized that many people who want to eat healthy struggle with food addictions that derail them at every turn. I’ve realized that food companies are not our friend. I’ve realized that the entire concept of nutrition has become muddied by people/companies who want to sell us something without regard to our wellbeing and overall long term health. The bottom line is that if you want to be healthy, and I mean really healthy without just going thru the motions, you need to do your own research. Invest the time. Make your own decisions. Health is not a one size fits all proposition but if you put some time into your nutrition, you can be healthy. And please don’t confuse being healthy with being the “perfect” dress size. While for some, that my go hand in hand, that’s not the case for all. The focus here is on nutrition and ultimately health.
Confession. This post has been in queue for months. First paragraph drafted & left to sit. Why? Not because I didn’t think it was important but because I didn’t feel as if I had enough knowledge to bring it to you. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a coach. I’m not a trainer. I’m not the person with all my ducks in a row with regards to food or fitness. I’m not anyone other than a regular person who is passionate about food and exercise. I want to be healthy. I want my kids and family to be healthy. I want you to be healthy. So I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned. Give some tips on a few things you can do that might help you to feel a little better. And I’ll leave you with a list of documentaries that might peak your interest and help you get started in really thinking about yourself, your food and where you want to be health wise in the years to come. How’s that sound? I’m not selling anything. I’m advocating for real food, real health & a real future.
A few things I do that help me to feel good are listed below. I don’t have my nutrition 100%. I’m still tired sometimes. I’m grumpy a lot (especially now that schools out for the summer & full blown chaos has ensued). I don’t recover from workouts/races the way I used to but for the most part, I feel pretty good.
- Cook real food. Avoid take outs & fast food when possible.
- Eat less meat & more fruits and veggies (aka: freggies). Lunches should be fresh and appetizing! I usually have one or two “meatless” meals each day.
- Drink water. Avoid soda, processed fruit/veggie juices, caffeinated sugary drinks & alcohol.
- Prep dinners (Hello, Crockpot!!) and snacks ahead of time so that good choices can be made when everyone is starving.
- Traveling? Pack a cooler with snacks & bottled water.
- Try to avoid processed snacks: chips, bars, juice boxes, cookies. Embrace snack baggies full of your kids favorite freggies. Or make your own granola or energy bars as a family project.
- Buy local via the local farmers market or food co-op. Buy organic, non-gmo foods. If that’s not an option, shop the outer aisles of the grocery store and try to pick as many fresh options as possible.
Cook seasonal fruits & veggies in new and different ways. Just because the kiddos don’t like red peppers raw, doesn’t mean they won’t like them as the base for crockpot fajitas! Asparagus or Zucchini anyone? Let’s try it on the grill, you’ll find it in abundance at the local farmers market for the next several months!
Experiment with getting nutrients thru real foods. I’ve been taking in less supplements and utilizing more vitamins/minerals in real food. Anyone try juicing? Its fun. Its easy. I’ve taken in a lot of nutrients thru the juicer that I wouldn’t have consumed previously.
- If I have extra or don’t like a particular veggie in the juicer, I roast them in the oven. Sea Salt & Olive Oil will make anything yummy!
I’ve changed a lot of things this year and its mostly about my food. I buy as many local organics as possible. I don’t like to go to the supermarket. I go to the co-op first, then supplement at the grocery. I still struggle with the fact that my kids are not on board with my fruit & veggie movement. They still want pop tarts for breakfast & cheetos in the afternoon. But I’m making an effort. They complain a lot about there being “no real food in the house”, so I know I’m making an impact. If they choose an apple or strawberries one time over something processed, then that’s a mini win for me.
Everything in moderation, right? That’s the saying but overall, I think eating real food, without chemicals & hidden ingredients will lead to better health for me and my family. There are many who believe that overeating, in conjunction with consuming processed & “fast” foods are killing this nation. Each year, the pharmaceutical & food companies are making a killing. Healthcare conglomerates are growing bigger and bigger. Yet, each day people are dying from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a plethora of other diseases that never used to exist. Maybe we should think about getting back to basics. If you can’t grow your own food, make sure you know where your food is coming from and whether the person growing it actually cares about their consumers. That’s why I buy local. I want to know who is growing the food that I’m eating. And I’ve even started growing a few things myself. Normally I plant flowers. This year, Michael, Aby & I planted non-gmo veggie plants. Red peppers, cucumbers, zucchini & tomatoes. We’ll see what kind of yield this brings. We’ve already seen some decent growth over the last month.
So, that’s a little bit about what I’ve been doing lately. I know nutrition and food isn’t interesting to everyone. I’ve had friends specifically tell me that they do NOT want to know where their food is coming from and/or how it gets to the supermarket. That’s certainly their prerogative. If you want to know more about food, how it relates to health, nutrition and what’s in the supermarket, then consider watching a few of the documentaries listed below. All are on Netflix and available for streaming.
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (I & II)
If you have any other documentaries that you think would be helpful for us to learn more about food & nutrition, then please share! I have several others I’ve heard are good but I haven’t watched because they aren’t on Netflix. I need to expand my streaming capabilities!
** Eat REAL Food ** Amanda – TooTallFritz
Well TTF…if there was a delay in making this post that is grounded in just not sure you got the knowledge-base…you are not alone. I can claim to being a certified coach, but a certified nutritionist I amin not! You are right on track…you cannot trust what you hear on the news feeds, the internet…even what the Government sets as the standards of what constitutes a healthy diert…may not be trustworthy. So you are hitting the nail right dead-center on the head and driving it home…with your point we all vary and you MUST do a lot of self-education into nutrition to find what works best for you as individual. That’s the easy part.
And when you factor in “fad-diets” and such that seem to come out every year…just adds to the confusion. But I am reading “Eat Fat, Get Thin”…which would constitute a fad-diet, but I am paying more attention to the discrepancies and conflicts that author, Mark Hyman, pointing out in the standards of healthy diet set by our Government. His thesis is that too much sugar and carb (especially refined)…is the critical factor in screwing up the body’s metabolism and nurturing enhanced fat-deposition through insulin response. He proposes and has some science to back it up that higher proportion of fat in diet is what turns on the body’s metabolic machinery to burn fat! Sorta throws a curve ball into what we runners think need high-carb and carb-loading….but I think it all falls back to the variation in individuals what works best…and of course he is not centering or thinking of distance runners per se…just the bulk of America that is overweight.
But I am a marathoner and I have high carb diet and I get by without the weight gain cause when in high-mileage training regimen…those calories getting consumed and not so much turned into fat. Until lately…with far reduced volume and intensity in my high-end training I do for Boston….eating the same way as in past…led to minor weight gain. I think this Hyman fellow on to something that could give individuals greater ability to loose and control their weight. I can’t cite a link to a video or such, so I leave it up to you to find it if you want to add it. If you dig deep enough into it….there is solid science to back-up his claim higher proportion in fat is good and that it is carbs/sugars the villain in weight gain and obesity this nation faces.
Not making any endorsements here…simply reading the book and looking into the science relative to metabolic mechanisms…and becoming more convinced certainly refined sugars in diet are a big culprit….but also a high proportion of carb that comes from processed grains…especially wheat…a factor in weight gain. According to his premise…eating lots of carbs and sugars in diet simply triggers “insulin” response….which takes all that sugar circulating around the bloodstream and converts it to fat (but there is one exception see below). And that higher proportion of fat…enhances metabolism to burn fat! I am unaware of any pysoilogical mechanism that takes fats circulating in the bloodstream and then stores it as fat. Got a lot more to do in researching that…but Hyman may be on the right path of defining a truly healthy diet.
Now back-tracking….distance runners can sustain a really high-carb diet…especially if the training volume and intensity is high. But that doesn’t mean just cause you are training to run your 1st or 2nd marathon…you have to have all that high carb in diet…depends on the intensity you will run that race at. And for beginners or novices…that will run race at far less than maximal intensity…not necessary to be concerned with carb-loading in diet….just focus on race day supplmenting carb and electrolytes as race distance progresses.
And will end this long post with another aspect often overlooked. It all stems from going to clinic to have standard blood panel work done for annual check-up. But in this case I ran the 4-mi to the clinic and after past 2–mi I even kicked-up the speed to goal marathon pace….so by time I got there I was really moving along at 8-min/mi. You would think that is a good thing…right? But call comes a few days later….high-blood sugar levels…far beyond the “normal” and they diagnosed me as “pre-diabetic.” I responded to nurse informing me of the test results was she aware that I train to run marathons and I ran 4-mi to the lab prior to blood-draw?
Her response was that if I was running my blood sugar should be lower or low. I responded to her that my sports physiolgoy texts referred to a “suppression” of insulin response in distance runners…once they pass some undetermined point in duration of run/exercise. She didn’t buy my explanation and I had to go back and do some more involved testing that took some 3-hr of my time. This time I made sure not to do any running prior and the test results came back in blood sugar/insulin response way within normal range.
I truly believe that high-blood sugar level they documented was simply cause I had the marathon training right on track….physiology trained to suppress insulin response and keep sugar (6-carbon glucose) circulating in bloodstream…no matter what the levels…cause the body’s mechanism now turned on we going long and we gonna need all this sugar eventually. At the same time…metabolism also kicked-in to burn fat…but I can’t find any hormones or such that drive that fat-metabolism mechanism. And this is why training for marathons…they want you to run those slower than goal marathon pace….cause it is that slower speed that kicks-in body to use more fat in energy production over the long haul.
So if there be a “supression” response to insulin removing sugar from bloodstream and turning it into fat when you got that running on high volume load and/or intensity, then makes sense in resting state at other times not running…eat a lot of carb….yes it goes to replacing muscle glycogen stores….but if you got extra circulating around….gets turned into fat.
The book also makes it clear…all fat not created equal…so you got to go deeper into that with saturated vs poly-unsaturated vs Omega 3/4 fats and so on. In defense of Hyman….the Government standards no longer put a restriction on dietary cholesterol!
As Amanda says…you got to do a lot of extra work to figure this all out what is best for you!
Great post Amanda!!! And I have watched every one of those documentaries on your list!! Hope it is sinking in!!! Now…..to curb the wine/beer issue, and I’d be golden!!!!
Great post! I like that you did covet it with you’re just passionate about nutrition and exercise! Ironically, before I even read this post, I had queued up my netflix for some of those listed movies and just watched Food Matters. I’m been analyzing my diet and nutrition with my running to try and get back to basics as well! I’m totally addicted to sugar though, and have to fix that first! 😉
I really like this post. I too am not a nutritionist or dietician but I honestly believe that most people would feel better if they would just cook their own food. But – I’m not in charge so people do what they want.
Fed Up is a great documentary!! I believe that diets are what caused my BED. I stopped dieting and it went away! Be careful people.
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