The First Pillar of Good Health
In last week's newsletter, I mentioned that I have been contemplating and talking about The Five Pillars of Good Health a lot recently. I even mentioned that I would be going through them one by one over the next five weeks. So let's get started, with some simple information.
The First Pillar we are going to discuss is Nutrition. It is safe to say that we all understand that nutrition is incredibly important to our well-being. The food that we eat is the fuel that our body needs to perform optimally. There are no short-cuts. No cutting corners. We have to make good healthy decisions. The hard part is to continue to make those decisions consistently over the long haul.
Earlier this week I had a seemingly simple conversation with a patient. We discussed a new "diet" that she and a friend had just begun. The two of them had both heard about it through different friends on social media. They decided to do the diet together, and act as accountability partners for each other. (Which is a great strategy by the way.)
She started by outlining the "diet" to me. Unfortunately, it was more of a meal plan, than anything else. Both women were essentially eating the same things for each meal, however there was a slight difference in the quantity of their foods. This meal plan was incredibly specific. The types of food were specific. The quantity of food at each meal was exact. Even the time of day that the food was to be eaten was fixed.
We went through all of the details for each meal throughout just one day. I have never actually seen a meal plan that was so precise. I admit that it was very impressive, but I can't even imagine what it would be like to follow it for just one day much less for months or years on end. The plan was not sustainable. If a plan is not sustainable it is likely to result in some quick changes, but changes will only last as long as you are able to follow the plan. That is why establishing good sustainable nutrition habits is far more important than following a precise meal plan.
If we are going to make large-scale changes to our nutrition plans they must be able to be maintained. That is why it is so important to make simple alterations and stay away from sweeping grand changes. Small changes are much easier to maintain on a day-to-day basis over the long haul.
So here are some of my favorite simple suggestions that should be relatively easy to implement.
Far too many of us do not take in enough vegetables. One rule that I try to follow everyday is that each meal (including breakfast) must contain at least one vegetable. It is not that hard to find a way to sneak a veggie into your eggs in the morning. Or put some kale or spinach into a shake in the morning. In my opinion, we cannot possibly eat too many veggies throughout the day. They are very nutritionally dense, a great source of vitamins and minerals, without a lot of unnecessary calories.
Limit Highly Processed Foods
As a general rule of thumb - If it will go bad in the next couple of days it is probably good for you, if it can sit in your pantry for weeks, months, or even years it is probably bad for you... Shop the perimeter of your local grocery store. That is where you will find fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy foods. The stuff that will go bad in a couple of days if not eaten first.
Eat More Protein
As I said before about the veggies, I do everything that I can to make sure that each meal I eat also contains protein. If you are a vegetarian, or just not a huge fan of meat, you will need to find alternative sources of protein.
Don't Be Afraid To Eat
Far too many of us obsess over the calorie count of the food we consume during the day. Drastically limiting the number of calories that you eat in a day may actually be slowing down any progress that you may be looking to make. More often than not the calories that we consume are less important than the quality of the food that we eat. Focus on eating the right types of foods rather than focusing on how much you have eaten.
I hope that these concepts make changing your habits a little easier. If you have questions please feel free to let us know.
Movement is my medicine,