For those of us fortunate enough to enjoy an abundant food supply, making good food choices is an absolutely essential foundation for health and energy. We can choose to have the best diet possible.
However, with the ubiquity of bits and bytes of information, it’s easy for incomplete nutritional advice to make its way instantaneously around the world. Depending on which limited study, or even more limited headline, you read, it’s easy to end up thinking that “fats” or “carbs” are bad. Coffee, alcohol, chocolate, and grains might be “bad” or “good” depending on what is being measured, the quality, the quantity, and who is consuming them. It seems that every week there is also some new “miracle food” that can “do it all” for you. After following the chaotic stream of dietary information for even a short while, it’s easy to feel as if everything you eat is “suspect” or to just be confused about the whole thing.
Here are some dietary suggestions based on the idea of balance:
1. Eat a variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible. One simple strategy that emphasizes variety is to have many different colors on your plate each meal—or at least in the course of each day. Avoid eating too much of any one thing. Also eat with freshness in mind. Cook food enough to digest it well, but don’t overcook. Keep in mind that highly processed foods lose some of their “life” and many of their nutrients.
2. Eat to satisfy hunger, but not to the point of being full. Find the balance of what is enough, but not too much. A nice motto for this point of balance is “Never starving, never full.” Eating too much compromises your digestion and energy.
3. Everyone’s biochemistry is slightly different. Find the foods that work best for you. A good way to gauge what works for you is to monitor your energy within the hour after you eat. Foods that you do well with will tend to leave you feeling balanced, clean, and energized.
For many people, eating too many starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or fried foods will drain energy. If you drink caffeinated beverages with meals, this may cover over the energy-draining effect of some foods and fool you into thinking that you have real energy when you are actually just “stimulated” by caffeine.
4. Drink sufficient water. Water facilitates digestion and is necessary for almost every biological function in your body. Water helps transport nutrients into your cells and toxins away from your cells. It also helps with processing excess body fat. Make it a habit to drink a glass of water every few hours throughout the day.
A great way to become more conscious of what you are eating and how it is working for you is to keep a “Food and Mood Log.” Write down everything you eat and drink, how much, and how you feel within an hour afterwards in terms of mood and energy.
I’d love to hear what works best for