Nutrition: the beginning

Hey friend, it’s nice to have you back. This is the beginning of our talk about nutrition, based on my experience as a chef, a mom, and someone who grew up around farms and gardens. I currently work in the wellness field, with an emphasis on brain health. My current opinion is largely influenced by current research in that field. I am open to learning new information and having my opinion change, I recommend you are open to the same. That said, I highly value traditional food ways. From the Three Sisters to eating bison, emu, or salmon, using the whole animal when eating meat, or focusing more on eating plants. These are ancient ways of eating that are important to remember.

In our modern lives, food is one of the most confusing parts of our day. Where once we ate what was available, now we have hundreds of varieties of cereal, bread, and milk at every grocery store. So where do we look for answers on what we should eat? The USDA is often considered the leading expert on nutrition in the United States, they brought us the food pyramid, and now the “choose my plate” philosophy of eating. If you’d like to nerd out about some USDA guidelines history, click here, there’s some great graphics through the last hundred years. They’ve long had an affinity for grains, particularly wheat. The purpose for the reliance on these cheap carbs is they would fill you up when it was difficult to find other foods. Over the time the USDA has been around, large agribusiness has pushed for those guidelines to stay the same, even though current science shows reducing simple carbohydrate intake, as well as dairy, has a positive benefit for many people. Many argue there are different dietary needs based on your genetic make up, your ethnicity and national background is thought by many to impact these needs. For instance, African Americans and Asian Americans are thought to have different dietary needs that European Americans. My thought is, I’m not ready to jump on that clear cut of a delineation, but there certainly is something to your genetic makeup influencing your dietary needs.

Most countries have some sort of food pyramid, or graphic that shows the recommendations, I find Canada’s graphic particularly interesting and Finland’s pyramid shown on Mother Nature Network. Both countries recommend sustainable foods as a priority, there’s a lot of us on this planet these days, considering how your food choices affect your next door neighbor and your fifth cousin on the other side of the planet is getting more important every day.

Then there’s the diets, when I talk about diets, I’m not talking about weight loss. Losing pounds is a thing of the past. When you eat well, your weight is an irrelevant subject. I’m talking keto, paleo, Mediterranean,  Bulletproof, even Weight Watchers falls in this category these days, these are lifestyles that are designed to meet the nutritional needs of those that follow the rules set out by the plan. Our choices are so vast many people find having a community of like  minded eaters is the best support for staying on track to being healthy. What I advocate are the foods that are right for you. You may have seen me rail on about gut biome before, let’s talk a little more about that. Our bodies are full of bacteria, much of which are helpful to us. Our guts are teeming with these tiny organisms, and they run our bodies and our brains. The gut is often referred to as the second brain. Some even argue it’s actually our main brain and the one inside our skull is actually taking orders from the gut. Your gut biome affects your mental health, physical health, and your general brain function. How you feed your gut biome dictates your health, so pay attention to how you feel mentally and physically.

What does this mean for you today? Eat what makes your body feel good, I’m not talking the quick fixes like eating sugar, that increases your dopamine levels, but over time affects both serotonin and dopamine regulation, creating intense cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates. If one of the diets listed above makes you feel great, then do your research and follow it. If you make a choice about how you’d like to eat and one day you eat something completely off the parameters you set out, no sweat! Give yourself permission to be in charge of what, how, when, and where you eat. For most of us eating splurge foods now and again isn’t going to have a huge impact if we’re generally eating healthy. It’s how we eat the majority of the time.

It should be clear by now, that I am not a fan of relying on cheap carbohydrates for calories (I’ve been broke, I’ve been depressed, I know eating cheap ramen and sandwiches is the easy road. Trust me, you’ll feel better when you eat better, it’s real.) I’m also not a huge fan of eating sugar regularly. I have long been a supporter of eating local, seasonal, and making foods from scratch when possible. When you eat premade food there are a lot of sneaky ingredients in there. READ THE LABEL. Look at the sugar content. Can you buy all the ingredients listed at your grocery store?

Making your own food may mean spending a little more money in the short term, although over time, once you get in the habit and have a stocked pantry, it can actually get cheaper.  It certainly means more planning and spending more time in the kitchen. Building a habit takes time, but you can do it, I have faith in you. If you’re already on track, feel free to make some tweaks to what your doing, there’s always room for improvement. If you’re just starting your journey, be patient with yourself, the only thing that’s better than you, is a better you.

Happy eating!

P.S. If you’re just starting out and you need support, advice, or suggestions about where to start, please reach out, to me or someone for support. It can be overwhelming to start something new. You are important enough to start now.

 

References

https://www.iflscience.com/brain/here-s-what-happens-your-brain-when-you-give-sugar-lent/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201105/sunlight-sugar-and-serotonin

https://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/res/VPTC2/9%20Food%20Nutrition%20and%20Preparation/Cultural_Consider_in_Nutrition_and_Food_Prep.pdf

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/09/invented-food-pyramid/

https://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/usda-food-pyramid.html

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