Habit #1: Nutrition (Part 2 of 7) by Jacob Moore
“Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.” –English Proverb
In order to step into a healthier lifestyle, there are several ways to begin. By taking a few steps at a time, it’s possible to build the proper foundation for a long and healthy life. Let’s look at some ideas for improving mental wellness through nutrition.
Quite simply, nutrition is meant to enhance health and provide growth. According to a book, Psychodietetics by Dr. Cheraskin, food and nutrition are directly connected to mental wellness. The book discusses issues of weight problems, addiction, depression and “unsociable behavior in both adults and children.” Imbalances, excesses and deficiencies in nutrition can possibly lead to diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis or even cardiovascular disease.
Recently, there have been new food-diet-pyramids that are specific for different ethnic groups. Most involve eating more plant-based foods, unprocessed foods and a reduction in animal foods, sweets, salts and alcohol. All of these are key to a healthy diet but if it seems overwhelming, start cutting back on one at a time to have a slight edge over cravings and addictions.
Thousands of people will skip meals to lose weight but are actually hurting their bodies. It’s important to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and most fit people try to eat four to six small meals a day rather than three normal or larger meals. Skipping meals puts your body in a survival mode and lowers your metabolism. Slowing the metabolism actually converts excess food into fat, so make sure to stay on a solid eating routine.
Try cutting out or reducing sodas, energy drinks and sugary drinks in favor of more water. Sodas are never good for you and it was somewhat unnerving to me how McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are the official sponsors of the Olympics. I assure you those athletes are rarely (if ever) eating those foods. Water is essential to a healthy diet and the Mayo Clinic recommends around 13 cups a day for men and at least 9 cups a day for women.
Switch to lean protein. Right after the vitality of water, protein is important to a healthy body. Increased lean protein may lower the risk of heart disease because the levels of LDL Cholesterol are exchanged with HDL Cholesterol. Protein also helps rebuild muscle and replace enzymes, which also helps boost the metabolism. Some sources of lean protein include: dairy products, nuts, legumes, eggs and meats like fish and poultry.
Because most people miss out on their recommended fiber, it’s important to include whole grains like wheat breads and high-fiber cereals into a balanced diet. Fiber lowers risks of heart disease and colon cancer. Besides the most known facts, fiber also helps people feel full to control blood sugar and cholesterol.
Finally, don’t forget to eat more fruits and vegetables. Five servings of foods and vegetables are recommended each day, as these foods are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals while only containing a few calories. Consider fruits or vegetables when looking for a snack between meals. Skip the vending machine and bring a few apples to work. Share them with co-workers and make the best of each meal.