Updated: Mar 13
Welcome back, foodies! In our previous article, we explored the idea that food is more than just fuel. Now, let's dive into the world of healthy eating and uncover the essential Healthy Eating Pillars. You may be wondering: what exactly constitutes healthy eating? And what are some healthy eating habits to adopt? To truly understand what we're looking for when it comes to healthy eating, we first need to define the pillars that make up a healthy diet. So buckle up, grab a snack (preferably a healthy one!), and let's get started!
Good nutrition is a multifaceted concept that involves more than just following rigid guidelines or strict rules. It encompasses a wide range of factors that contribute to our overall health and well-being. To truly achieve good nutrition, we must take into account various components, including energy balance, nutrient density, performance, appearance, and overall health.
1- One important aspect of good nutrition is energy balance. This means finding the right balance between the amount of food we consume and the amount of energy we use. When we consume more energy than we use, we are at risk of becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to a variety of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, if we use more energy than we consume, we may not be getting the nutrients and energy we need to perform well, maintain a healthy weight, and feel our best. Fad diets that severely restrict calories, such as very low-calorie diets or "crash diets," can lead to a significant energy imbalance, putting individuals at risk of becoming overweight or obese once they stop the diet. Additionally, diets that are high in unhealthy fats and added sugars can also lead to an energy imbalance and subsequent weight gain.
2- Another critical aspect of good nutrition is getting essential nutrients. These are the vitamins, minerals, and other substances that our bodies need to function correctly. We can obtain essential nutrients by consuming a wide variety of whole, minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. When we eat a balanced diet that is rich in essential nutrients, we are more likely to perform well, feel energized, and avoid health problems. Diets that restrict or eliminate entire food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies. For example, a diet that eliminates all sources of carbohydrates may lead to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals that are found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables for example.
3- Nutrient density is also an essential factor in good nutrition. This refers to the number of nutrients per serving of food. Foods that are nutrient-dense provide more vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients per calorie than those that are not. Examples of nutrient-dense foods include leafy green vegetables and lean proteins. Consuming nutrient-dense foods can help us maintain a healthy weight, promote optimal health, and prevent chronic diseases. Diets that rely heavily on processed or fast foods tend to be low in nutrient density. These foods often contain high amounts of calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars, while being low in essential vitamins and minerals.
4- It's important to take a holistic approach in order to achieve specific goals while also promoting overall benefits. Good nutrition is outcome-based, which means every choice we make regarding what we eat will have a measurable outcome. It's crucial to use data and reality to inform future decisions about our diet. Diets that focus solely on achieving a specific outcome, such as rapid weight loss or muscle gain, without considering overall health can lead to negative outcomes. For example, consuming large amounts of protein supplements without regard for other nutrients or health consequences can lead to nutrient imbalances and other health problems.
5- Good nutrition should be sustainable, not only for our bodies but also for the planet. We need to find a way to eat that doesn't harm the environment, waste food, or lead to hunger and malnutrition. Choosing foods that are environmentally friendly usually means making healthier choices that benefit our health too. Diets that rely heavily on animal products and heavily processed foods often have a significant negative impact on the environment. These diets are typically high in carbon emissions, water usage, and land use, and may contribute to climate change and environmental degradation. 6- Variety: A good diet should include a wide variety of foods from all the different food groups. This helps to ensure that the body is getting a diverse range of nutrients. Diets that are overly restrictive or only focus on a few select foods may lack variety and lead to nutrient deficiencies. For example, a diet that only consists of fruits and vegetables may not provide enough protein, healthy fats, and other essential nutrients that the body needs.
7- Moderation: A good diet should not have too much of any one food or nutrient. Moderation is key to maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients in the body. Diets that are high in one particular nutrient, such as fat or sugar, and low in others can lead to nutrient imbalances and health problems. For example, a diet that is high in saturated fats can lead to high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. 8- Good nutrition means identifying and removing the obstacles that prevent you from achieving your health goals. As a nutrition coach, I am always keen on identifying clients' limiting factors, such as genetics, exercise habits, physiology, mindset, and environment. By understanding how these factors affect their health. Diets that rely on quick-fix solutions and do not address the underlying factors that contribute to poor health, such as stress or lack of physical activity, are often not sustainable in the long term. These diets may lead to short-term success but are not effective for long-term health and well-being.
It's true that there may be circumstances where someone needs to follow a diet that doesn't align with all of the pillars of good nutrition. However, this should only be done under specific conditions. If someone has a medical or mental condition that requires a particular diet, they should work with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action. Additionally, any diet that deviates from the pillars of good nutrition should have a clear goal and a defined timeline. Following a restrictive diet for an extended period can lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health problems. Therefore, it's important to approach any diet modification with caution and with the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. Now as we talked about identifying and removing the obstacles that prevent you from achieving your health goals, what are The Limiting Factors: Genetics and epigenetics are two important factors that affect how your clients respond to nutrition. Genetics provides the blueprint for our bodies, while epigenetics controls how our genes are expressed. Some People may have genetic factors that make it easier or harder for them to lose weight, build muscle, or avoid chronic diseases. However, genes are not destiny, and nutrition, stress, or a healthy environment can strongly affect genetic expression.
Activity and Exercise are also important factors in achieving good nutrition. Active and fit people can eat more, use nutrients more efficiently, and keep their metabolisms healthier than sedentary and unfit people. However, exercise alone is not enough to keep you healthy or lean. You need to take an integrated approach and work on your unique physiological makeup to create a realistic plan.
Mindset is another crucial factor that affects your health. Negative, sabotaging, or inaccurate thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs can hold you back, affecting your behavior and physiology. Replace negative mindsets with positive self-talk and better information and take action by encouraging a winning mindset and a great nutrition action plan.
Finally, the environment plays a significant role in achieving good nutrition. Our daily decisions are largely unconscious, shaped by our surroundings. Therefore, your physical environment, relationships, and schedule can affect your food choices and overall health. Adjust the environment to make healthier choices.
In summary, good nutrition is not about following strict rules but enabling happier, healthier, fuller lives. you can look for limiting factors but also for your advantages, strengths, and opportunities for success. By focusing on your strengths and making adjustments to your limiting factors, you can help yourself achieve your health goals.
Hold on before you jet off, let's get one thing straight - good nutrition isn't just about what you eat. Nope, nope, nope. It's also about how you move, sleep, and even think. That's right, everything from your exercise routine to your stress levels and even your sleeping habits can impact how your body utilizes all those nutrients you're so carefully consuming. So, get ready for the next article Healthy Lifestyle vs Diet, where we'll dive into the nitty-gritty of the difference between a healthy lifestyle and a plain old diet. Trust us, you won't want to miss it.