What should I eat?!?!? The question appears to be really simple but the answer has become more complex than you can imagine. Before discussing WHAT to eat, let’s look at WHY we eat. At a bare minimum, we eat to provide the necessary fuel our bodies need to perform its daily functions and survive.
Eating is an essential part of life. We cannot live if we do not eat any more than we can drive a car without gas. We all know we NEED to eat…but what SHOULD we eat? Eating is driven by a host of factors: taste, stress, social engagements, money, health concerns, and so forth. All of these factors unite to determine what we eat. Oftentimes, the choices we make are not in our best interests.
What tastes good isn’t always what is good FOR you. The good news is we do not have to be slaves to our tongue! What is good for us can also taste great! That is truly a win-win!
So…what fuels the body? Well, our bodies need macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are required in large amounts and consist of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. On the other hand, micronutrients are required by the body in small or trace amounts. We need them for normal growth and development. Some common examples of micronutrients are calcium, zinc, and potassium.
For now, let’s focus on the macronutrients. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In part one of our discussion, we will look at carbohydrates.
Carbs! We love them! They provide quick fuel for the body in the form of sugars, starches, and fiber. Carbs are found mostly in plant foods (fruits, veggies, and grains). When dealing with carbohydrates, they may be simple (think SUGAR) or complex (think whole wheat, corn, and potatoes).
Be careful, though! Not all carbs are equally beneficial to the body. UNREFINED carbs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes! REFINED carbs, or processed carbs, contain little to no nutrients and are not good for the body. Be on the lookout for unhealthy carbs like white sugar, soft drinks, candies, and baked goods that provide plenty of calories but very little in the way of nutrition!
Refined carbs can lead to nutritional deficiencies and that means trouble down the road. Poor food choices open the door to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. So… avoid sugar and sweets! Sounds pretty “simple”, right? Okay…not so simple but an unhealthy diet WILL lead to health problems.
Well, what about the “good” carbs? Complex carbohydrates can be a great addition to a healthy diet…in their UNREFINED form. Unrefined carbs are packed full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber which nourish the body. Examples of good complex carbs are: spinach, kale, chard, oats, brown and wild rice. Get in the habit of “eating the rainbow” of veggies to get a good nutritional balance.
Remember…carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy body but not all carbs have the same effect on the body. Refined carbs will lead to nutritional deficiencies. Unrefined carbs will support your health goals and keep you on the path to a healthy mind and body. Eat well and you will be well!
Here’s to a sound mind in a healthy body!