I have been journeying toward a healthier me for quite a while now, and I like the way it has made me look and feel. I start my mornings earlier, have peaceful nights of sleep. Also, just generally have been feeling a lot lighter and airy as opposed to being fatigued and bloated. This got me thinking about the importance of a healthy diet and how we should all place the foods that we indulge in under a microscope. Health is fast becoming a huge part of my life, from me going to the gym, improving my lifestyle as well as my spiritual balance. So, I just wanted to take this time and share the benefits of a balanced diet as well as the importance of it!
Before I start, let me just say that I am not a nutritionist and I do not claim to have the answers. I am merely sharing my experiences which have helped me along the way. Also, I use the word ‘diet’ as a synonym for ‘eating plan’ or ‘lifestyle change’.
WHAT IS A BALANCED DIET
I always tell friends of mine who say they’re on a *insert new fad diet name* diet. Most of them are usually cutting out, completely, certain foods or cutting out food completely. I always cringe because I know the importance of eating a BALANCED diet, of which most diets do not accommodate.
A balanced diet is a lifestyle plan that allows for your body to receive an adequate amount of nutrition from the foods which you feed it. It is said that to get the NUTRITION that your body needs, you need to be acquiring your calories from foods such as Legumes, whole grains, lean proteins as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. These are the foods that should be included in your balanced diet.
WHAT ARE CALORIES
Calories are basically a measurement of the amount of energy that is in the food that we eat. When we eat food, we get energy from it which is how we stay alive and are able to go about our daily activities. Calories are also important for our bodies to perform necessary functions such as breathing or thinking. Remember when we were kids, our teachers would always tell us to have a big breakfast so we can be smart I class? (i wish it was that easy).
There is no set-in-stone calorie intake that can be applied universally to everybody. Just like water-intake, the number of calories you eat are determined by your gender, size, age and the amount of physical activity. Men generally need more calories than women and people who workout need more calories than those who do not.
THIS IS INFORMATION I FOUND ON A GENERAL CALORIE INTAKE CHART.
children ages 2 to 8: 1,000 to 1,400 calories
active women ages 14 to 30: 2,400 calories
sedentary women ages 14 to 30: 1,800 to 2,000 calories
active men ages 14 to 30: 2,800 to 3,000 calories
sedentary men ages 14 to 30: 2,000 to 2,600 calories
active men and women over 30: 2,200 to 3,000 calories
sedentary men and women over 30: 1,800 to 2,200 calories
CALORIES VS. NUTRITION
When it comes to weight loss, calorie intake plays an important role. to lose weight, the equation is easy; you have to use up more calories than you eat. So, if the average human being needs to eat 2000cals to MAINTAIN their weight, it means, to lose weight they would have to either eat 1500 calories or burn 2500 calories. Either way, you create a calorie deficit, which is what your body requires in order to shed some kilos!
But the trick is to realise that calorie-intake is just as important as nutrition. Yes, I could be only eating 1500 calories a day and losing weight, but is it really helping if my calories are coming from junk food? These are what nutritionists refer to as ’empty calories. Calories that count, yes they do, but they do not provide our body with significant nutritional value. Empty calories come from you sugar, processed foods, solid fat, refined carbs. This means your cakes, fizzy drinks, doughnuts, pizzas, butter and all these other wonderful things that people indulge in are a no-no!
THE IMPORTANCE OF A BALANCED DIET
Bad eating habits are leading causes in fatal cases all around the world. As I mentioned earlier, good NUTRITION is needed in order for your organs to perform their duty the best way they can. Without good nutrition, we place our bodies at a risk and become prone to illness and disease. I can attest to the fact that when I ate a lot of junk food, although I was not gaining weight, I had no energy. I would sleep until midday, laze around the house and just be a bum all day. Now, with a change into indulging in more of a balanced diet, I am the total opposite. I don’t think I would be blogging, running a business, attending class and holding down a part-time job if I was eating crap.
One of my favourite artists, Mateo, says something along these lines:
You got a species with Amnesia
and half a billion people getting seizures from grubbing on Micky d’s
Utterly disgusted, this is no assumption
Don’t you know you function off whatever you’ve been munchin?
This hits home for me, man.
Usually, poor diets are accompanied by laziness and inactivity, it’s not you, it’s the food you been eating. This contributes to rising levels of potentially fatal diseases such as diabetes as well as Obesity. Other diseases which are directly influenced by poor eating choices include strokes, heart disease, and cancer.
HOW TO TRANSITION INTO A BALANCED DIET AND HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
I grew up around a family that goes to the gym and a sister who is a self-proclaimed ‘gym bunny’ who studies sports science in biokinetics. I am the total opposite, simply because I grew up thin and I am one of those people who eat w whole horse and does not gain weight. But, now I am growing older and fear that my metabolism might catch up to me. Also, I am just sick and tired of junk food, man. Eating healthy just makes me feel better about myself and I enjoy that. here is how I went from “where the fried chicken skin at?” to “Can I please have more lettuce with that?”.
Eat more vegetables! I cannot stress it enough. I always get so scared when somebody tells me they do not eat vegetables. Look, we are not 5 years old anymore and vegetables are essential to keep healthy. Vegetables contain most of the vitamins and minerals that our organs need to stay healthy. I love leafy greens, and to my advantage, they apparently contain the most nutrients. So, tuck into some spinach in your sandwich and Kale in your smoothie!
I am a picky fruit-eater, but fruits are a great substitute for sugary snacks and just snacks in general. They also will keep you more satisfied for longer, as opposed to sweets and chocolates. Your body needs sugar, but the sugar we get from sweets and unhealthy snacks is, that’s right, UNHEALTHY.
Or more specifically, whole grains. my biggest weakness. I am really struggling with eating whole grains. I would much rather have white carbs as opposed to brown ones. But white carbs are unhealthy and offer very little nutritional value as opposed to whole grain carbs. I guess it is because white carbs are the refined kind, which is a fancy word for ‘useless’ lol, not really but yeah.
In lotion making, you DO NOT want refined oils because the benefits in refined oils are minimal s compared to raw oils. The same applies here.
Because I am a sucker for carbs, all I do is dramatically decrease the amounts I eat and increase the amount of protein. Most of my protein comes from lean meats like chicken breasts, very lean mince, some pork, and fish. I always remove the skin from my chicken and fatty bits on my bacon and meats. Also, I always buy grass-fed meats because the health of the animal I am eating plays a huge factor in its nutritional value. As a snacking food, I store some almonds and sunflower seed (be careful, they have a lot of calories, so I eat like 10 at a time).
I am a sucker for milk and cheese (oh my god). do not even call it a sandwich if it does not have cheese. But, what I do is buy more of the lighter cheeses (mozzarella and parmesan) and less of the darker cheeses such as cheddar. I really have no idea if it’s true, but I read: the lighter the cheese, the healthier it is. Is it true? let me know if it is.
Also, still about dairy, I don’t know if this is true, either, but APPARENTLY full-fat is better than low fat. I tell you why… apparently although the fat is less (in low-fat) the sugar content is increased to compensate. Uhm… do your research and tell me if this is true or not.
If you love dairy, like I do, just eat smaller portions and gulp down 8 glasses of green tea per day like I do, man.
Swap out your canola or sunflower oil for olive or coconut oil. These are healthier than the former!
I am on a weight loss journey. I seriously weigh under 50kgs but i am what they call ‘skinny fat’. So although I am quite small, my body is mostly fat, wow. I feel like crying every single time I say it.
So, I have set some eating rules, joined the gym for some resistance training and hoping for the best. I will post my progress, in hopes that I motivate others to do the same. It’s all about that holistic gloup.