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Mindful Nutrition

Written by Mark Fontaine

What’s is healthy eating? It’s hard to know these days, isn’t it? Regardless of the types of foods you eat, most all nutritionists agree on three basic concepts: balance, moderation and variation.

Balance: Most professionals suggest a balance of Carbohydrate at 55-65%, Protein at 10-15% and Fats at no higher than 30% of total calories.  Also, balance refers to choosing healthier foods more often than foods that are less healthy.

Moderation: Obesity is at epidemic rates.  A huge concern for the eater is portion control. How much food is enough and how much is too much?  Be mindful to plan food portion sizes.  Remember, the feeling of fullness in the stomach takes as long as twenty minutes to hit the brain.  It is important to eat slowly and stop at the first sign of a full feeling. Moderation involves learning the distinct difference between true fullness and eating as recreation.

Variation: It is best to include several food-types. A wide-variety of foods increases the likelihood of acquiring the required amounts of essential nutrients. Vitamin and mineral composition is food-specific. Variation also helps to avoid food boredom.  Try new foods.  Expand your pantry with healthy, exciting foods.  An excellent way of making sure that you really start to burn away some fat, control blood sugars and artery clogging plaque is to include the following foods in your diet: fat free dairy, lean protein, whole grain carbs and healthy fats.

Fat free dairy products are high in calcuim. Calcuim has been shown to aid in weight loss. Switching to fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese will play a critical role in preventing osteoporosis.   Low fat sources of calcium may be better absorbed than the calcium found in supplements, because lactose, which is also found in dairy, but not in supplements, appears to aid its absorption.  Studies show that low fat dairy products help people lose weight from the stomach area than those taking calcium supplements or eating a low-calcium diet.  Dairy’s calcium is also essential in protecting from colon cancer and helping normalize blood pressure. 

Lean protein helps build lean muscle mass and boosts your metabolism. Stick to lean protein and limit the rest.  Good quality lean proteins include beans, fish, poultry and tofu. Protein is an energizer-physically and mentally. It builds muscle. Muscle cells produce energy. Protein releases energizing neurotransmitters in the brain, creating a positive, confident state. Contrarily, high quantities of simple carbohydrates, particularly sugars and processed grain products, release seratonin, which induces sleepiness and lethargy. 

Whole grain carbs keep you fuller for longer.  If you are fuller for longer, you burn more calories and eat less. Good carb choices includes whole-grain wheat, whole-grain oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa. If you stick to healthy, low glycemic index carbs, you will weigh less. For centuries, we ate whole grains straight from the plant stalk. It gave us a rich package high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, enzymes and phytonutrients.  Modern milling strips away the bran, germ, and healthy oils that need refrigeration to keep from spoiling. This makes grains easier to store and gives them a much longer shelf life.  Processed grains lose fiber, oils, 90% of vitamin E and half of B vitamins. Eaters pay a high physical price for these high glycemic index foods. Whole grains and other unprocessed carbs can prevent constipation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, offer protection against many forms of cancer and help protect from developing type 2 diabetes.

Healthy fats, like nuts, olives and avocadoes, are good for you. Don’t be afraid of all fats.  Believe it or not, if you eat the right types of fats, you will be fuller and it will help you to eat less, lose weight and fat.  The total amount of fat you eat isn’t really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat.  The bad fats—saturated and trans fats—increase the risk for certain diseases. The good fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk.  Substitute good fats for bad fats and avoid trans fats.

Next time:  Mindful Fitness

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