Tag Archives: portions

Fats Won’t Make You Fat and Carbs Aren’t the Devil

22 Sep

IMG_1197The Diet World is confusing. A quick Internet search lists so many fad diets, you don’t know which one is right for you. Should you do high carb or low carb, Atkins or Vegetarian, Slow or FAST?

 

Before you decide how you want to eat, let me throw in my two cents. How about not dieting at all? What about just eating food—real food that tastes amazing and works with your body type and needs (such as diabetes, thyroid disease, food allergies, weight loss, etc.)?

 

While I’m not going to give general recommendations in this blog as to how many vegetables, starches, fruit, fat and protein grams you should eat (because I believe that is highly individualized and who the heck knows what a gram of anything looks like, let alone want to measure it), I do want to talk about what real food is made of (macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat) and how it builds and sustains our health. While I think knowing examples of what a carb, fat and protein are is important, I also think it is crucial to remember that we eat food—not macronutrients—and that each food almost always contains all three macronutrients.

 

Carbohydrates. A lot of people villainize carbs, but here’s the catch—vegetables and fruits are carbs too, so eliminating carbs is certainly not the answer to vitality. Carbohydrates are compounds composed of sugars (not to be confused with processed sugars that truly hinder your health) and come from plants. They are a primary source of energy, fiber and a structural component of cell walls and plasma membranes because they contain all sorts of stellar vitamins, minerals, water and secondary nutrients like antioxidants. Carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits and starches (grains, beans and potatoes).

 

Protein. Protein consumption is essential for building and repairing all tissues in the body such as muscle, bones, organs, hair and skin, not to mention neurotransmitters, enzymes, hormones and a source of energy. There are 21 amino acids (for the chemistry aficionados, these are the individual compound strands of protein) and our bodies can make most of these all on our own. However, there are 8 essential amino acids that can only be obtained through direct consumption of fish, fowl, meat, eggs and dairy. These amino acid building blocks are necessary for our bodies to function optimally.

 

Fat. Before you run for the hills, please understand that you need to eat fat. Fat is composed of glycerol and fatty acids and their asso­ciated organic groups. Fat is a source of energy, a building block for cell membranes and hormones, aids in nerve conduction and helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It also helps with maintaining healthy weight due to its satiating nature. It is essential to consume high quality saturated and unsaturated fats to maintain optimal health, especially the essential fatty acid omega-3. Fabulous fat examples include olives, coconut, avocados, nuts and seeds.

 

For an individualized nutrition program and to create body and food freedom, please contact me at 402-819-8970 or stephsbell@yahoo.com.

 

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Q and A: Calories In Vs. Calories Out

9 Mar
My perfect portion plate.

My perfect portion plate.

“Is eating healthy truly as simple as calories in verses calories out?” No… and a smidgen yes. Sometimes as a health coach, I feel that I’m unintentionally giving a Glomar response to nutritional questions, a “we can neither confirm nor deny” answer. The simple truth is that nothing is black or white, and we tend to ask questions that lead to a response that will either 1) justify our old habits or 2) justify fad habits. However, I also think that these questions are incredibly valid. So, once per month we’re going to dive into the tasty, thick and sometimes heated guacamole waters of nutritional enigmas. Shall we?

 

Calories In Vs. Calories Out

The “smidgen yes” part is easy to answer. If we eat too much in relation to our body’s needs (size, metabolism, etc.) and our activity level, then of course we will gain weight. This line is different for everyone, but your body is a smarty-pants and will tell you whether you’ve eaten too much or too little (or if the ratio of protein to fat to carbohydrates isn’t right). Feel bloated, stuffed, sick or aren’t hungry for the next 5 hours? Too much. Feel hungry or light-headed 30 minutes after eating? Too little.

 

The reason why I like to emphasize visual portion sizes and mind-body awareness over counting calories is because I think counting calories (or measuring food) for life isn’t realistic and can make one neurotic (hmm… does my sudden switch to third person signify that I’m speaking from personal experience?), that listening to our body’s signals develops a much healthier relationship to food and that calories do not differentiate quality of food. Eating 100 calories of almonds compared to a 100-calorie snack pack of mini-chocolate chip cookies is like comparing Stevie Wonder to a beta fish trying to play the banjo. Sure, it’s great at first, but then you realize how freakishly genetically altered it is and that you have a massive headache because of how awful it sounds. Stevie Wonder on the other hand? Never awful, always makes you feel satisfied, energized and wanting the best quality of music… err, food. What are we talking about?

 

Since our nutritional needs are as unique as our body, it makes sense to use our body as a portion tool. A healthy plate of food, generally speaking, will contain your unique palm size portion of protein (whether vegetarian or meat options), 2 fist size portions of vegetables and a thumblength of fat (including the fat in your protein; this one is a bit trickier so to put it in perspective: ¼ to ½ avocado, 6-10 pecans on your roasted Brussels’ Sprouts or 2 tsp of olive oil based dressing on your salad).

 

Put It Into Action

1. Listen to your body and write notes on how you feel (bloated, still hungry, stuffed, etc.) after eating.

2. Start serving your portions in relation to your body (fist and handful). Let’s start with dinner. Include a source of protein, vegetables and fat.

 

3. Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going.

 

To develop more behaviors for the health you deserve, contact me at 402-819-8970 or stephsbell@yahoo.com.