by Leighah Beadle-Darcy
It is Summer here in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. Some people are booking beach holidays, some are staying home, hoping to catch some sun nearby. Regardless, clothes are often skimpier and it is too hot to hide behind big baggy jumpers and coats. There is so much focus on conforming to messages form the outside world about transforming our bodies from the outside, hoping to be more ‘attractive’ to the outside gaze, or maybe to their own gaze. OK, there is nothing wrong with a bit of toning or looking to lose excess weight that may be detrimental to health, but restricting calories outside of the healthy needed amount, or over-exercising is not the answer, nor are diet pills and so on. We can find a set, healthy point for our bodies if we start from the inside, and this includes not only healthy and balanced nutrition, but positive self esteem and a healthy attitude towards food. And yes, we can have that ice-cream or glass of wine, we just don’t need it every mealtime or at the exclusion of other needed nutrients.
So, today, let’s start with nutrition. Below are basic guidelines on nutrition. If you would like a personalised nutrition discussion and plan, please see information on the linked page below for price and bookings.
Instead of thinking too much about foods being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, let us think more about a balance of needed nutrients, about getting the healthier nutrients the body needs, and the other things to be left to have in moderation. Of course, there are foods that are not so good for us, like refined sugars, and saturated fats. This does not mean you cannot indulge in a pastry now and then or some sweets…balance and moderation are key. You can also live healthily without these foods. The choice is yours on that one.
Think of food as a type of maintenance medicine and a strengthening medicine. Getting the right nutrients gives you energy and health to accomplish what you need, and to your better ability. Nutritional deficiency may affect mood and brain function, may make you tired and may make you lose focus.
Here are the six main groups of nutrients, of which we need all six in order to be healthy:
Sometimes in literature, we see a seventh added – fibre. Getting enough fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates should meet fibre requirements.
Fats are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and trans fats. Trans fats are not good for us and so need to be eaten in moderation. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are essential nutrients and must not be avoided – we need some fat for healthy functioning, and fat is not the enemy! It is about focusing on the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fat over the trans fats. Trans fats are found in things like pastries and commercially friend foods. Trans fats can cause clogging of the arteries if you eat too much of it. Look out for the term ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’, as this is the source of trans fats.
The average adult needs between 2000 and 2500 calories a day. We need around 1200 just to maintain organs and baseline functioning without any walking, moving, studying and so on. The brain alone needs around 500 calories a day to maintain itself. Make sure you don’t go more than a few hours without food (unless sleeping). Some people are OK on three meals a day, some are better with 5-6 smaller meals, or three meals and two snacks. Don’t skip meals. And don’t go hungry. If you eat healthily with lots of low-fat, high nutrient food like your complex carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables as your largest portions, you can eat a fair amount of food without gaining weight, and you can shed any excess weight. Be sure though to include all food groups and not cut any out thinking you will lose weight! Health needs to be first priority, and healthy, balanced eating will lead you to a healthy weight for you! YOU, not the comparisons to others! Be the best version of YOU, which incidentally is truly the most attractive!