A Balanced Body
Updated: Oct 16, 2022
Has anyone noticed the frequent shifts in our eating habits over the years, based on the latest news reports? We are bombarded weekly with changing science and opinion on what's considered “good” for our health. If you googled ‘healthy diet’ you’ll get millions of hits, each with a different view on proper nutrition intake. It seems like just yesterday that they took chocolate (specifically dark chocolate) off the ‘naughty’ list and added it to the ‘nice’ list. That definitely worked in my favor!
Over the years experts have shifted their opinions on what constitutes a healthy diet. Just take a look at the ads below from the 40’s, 50's and 60's. The one in the middle has a caption that reads Your Nutrition Tip - Butter is slippery. That’s why we eat as much as possible to lubricate our arteries and veins. And what's up with the ad on Vitamin Donuts? You literally can’t make this stuff up!
What the USDA has to Say.....
From 1956 to 1992 the USDA recommended mostly breads, grains, cereals and pasta as your main source of fuel for the day. The food ‘pyramid’ has changed a lot since then and in 2011 they changed the pyramid to the Choose My Plate format. Grains are now balanced with vegetables, fruit and protein with a small side of diary.
So what's a person to do with all of this contradictory information? Well, this blog is not meant to solve the never ending mystery but I will share my two cents, for what it’s worth.
A healthy diet boils down to three components; balance, moderation and frequency.
So let’s discuss balance. We need balance in our bodies; it’s what creates and sustains homeostasis. Homeostasis means ‘in harmony with one another’. All of our internal organs, and bodily fluids need to be in harmony with each other, so they can keep our bodies running in tip top shape. So many wonderful things happen when we properly fuel our body.
Harmony and efficiency between all our internal components
Increased energy levels which remain balanced throughout the day
Improved clarity of mind, focus and alertness
Better health and sleep pattens
To create and sustain balance in our bodies we need all 5 of the food groups (vegetables, protein, dairy, fruit and whole grains) for balance. We also need to make sure we have the proper balance in extras, like vitamins, minerals, sodium, sugar and fiber.
For those that have eaten a donut (or 2) and caffeine at the same time (me!). The sugar and caffeine gives us a huge boost to our energy level. But what happens 30 minutes later? We want to be in snooze-ville. What happens an hour or two hours later? We want more carbs! So it’s a vicious cycle.
Remember the old phrase ‘Everything in moderation”? Well nothing good results from overindulging, even on something considered ‘healthy’. Yes, all food is fuel for our bodies but each type of food group has its purpose. So if we are eating bread all day long, our body is going to be missing out on all of the benefits from the other food groups.
Take fruit for example. Fruit is very high in vitamins and minerals and is good for us but it also consists of sugar. Yes, it is natural sugar but it’s still sugar. An excess of sugar can mess with the internal workings of our bodies and it can turn into ‘fat’.
Vegetables are also considered good for our bodies. But eating too many vegetables can wreak havoc on our body’s ability to process all those carbs (yes, vegetables are carbs). This can result in an abundance of sugar. As I stated earlier, excess sugar can convert to fat but it also can increase inflammation in our joints and other areas of our bodies. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber. Too much fiber, though, can cause gastric distress.
Moving on to the last important piece to the puzzle which is frequency. Frequency is really important. How many times do you eat everyday? Are you a grazer? Do you skip all your meals and then eat all your calories at dinner time? Do you eat small meals, or large meals? Ideally we should be fueling our bodies every three hours. That allows us to have a small breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and post dinner snack. The snacks are not meals. They should consist of just enough calories (100-150) to keep your body balanced and fueled but not too much, otherwise the calories not used gets stored as fat.
So balance, moderation and frequency….. Seems simple enough, right?
And just remember a balanced body gives you the sustained energy you need throughout the day. Imagine moving effortlessly all day and actually feeling good!
So in closing, I have to be honest where my ‘two cents’ came from. It actually came from my mom who embraced these three concepts her entire life. I feel that they kept her fit and healthy well into her 80s.
I think I’ve done a pretty good job of following her model for most of my adult life with some detours along the way. And I hope you found this helpful in your daily journey to create a life of well-being.