Healthy Living Part 1: Eating Right
By Dr. P
First of all, I’m a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Doctor who is passionate about nutrition and healthy living. I always want my patients to spend more time taking better care of themselves, so they spend less time in my office.
The information given here is correct and accurate to the best of my knowledge. This advice is medical advice for the “average person”, but as we all know, none of us are the average, ideal person, so know that your needs may differ. Please use it in consultation with your personal physician and other health care providers.
If you ask people what it means to live a healthy lifestyle, they will tell you “it means to take care of yourself,” and by reading this, you are taking the first step in healthy living. Being healthy is taking time to put you first. Many times, busy people put themselves at the bottom of the list and do everything for everyone else before they take care of themselves. In my biased opinion, a lot of women do this often. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else- so thanks for putting yourself first and reading this.
Step 1 Eating Well
Depending on your age and metabolism, women need between 1500 and 2500 calories per day; men typically need about 500 more calories per day. Unfortunately, the older you get, the slower your metabolism becomes due to changes in your hormonal levels. Metabolism begins to slow in the early 40’s and for women, and their metabolism takes another plunge as they hit menopause..
The first thing to know about eating well is “don’t skip meals,” especially breakfast. With breakfast, your body has had the longest period of being “unfed”. Starting your day with a complex carb, fruit and protein will keep you moving until lunch. Having a full body keeps the brain working and helps focus and mood. Skipping meals decreases your metabolism, and you are more likely to “binge” on unhealthy snacks, or consume more calories at a later time, than you would if you just ate regular, balanced meals. Studies have shown that eating 5-6 small meals a day actually boosts the metabolism.
When planning your meals:
25-30% of your diet should be composed of fats, primarily monounsaturated fats
20-25% of your diet should be proteins
50% should be complex carbohydrates
You can find monounsaturated fats in things like olive oil, peanuts, and avocados. Proteins are foods like eggs, cheese, beans, and meats. Red meats are an excellent source of iron, which is great for menstruating women and pregnant/post-partum women. The rest of us, however, really don’t need much,if any, red meat. I believe meat should be viewed as a “condiment” in the American diet: 2-3 ounces is a serving which is about the size of a deck of cards. Think about fish, chicken, turkey, and pork as healthy alternatives to red meat.
Complex carbohydrates are a very important part of your diet. Complex carbohydrates are simply sugars bonded together to form a chain. Digestive enzymes have to work much harder to access the bonds and break the chain into individual sugars for absorption through the intestines. For this reason, digestion of complex carbohydrates takes longer. The slow absorption of sugars provides us with a steady supply of energy and limits the amount of sugar converted into fat and stored.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that your body needs in high doses on a daily basis for proper functioning. When you eat carbohydrates, they get converted to glycogen and are either used immediately for energy, providing a steady dose of blood sugar, or they are stored in the muscles and liver for energy at a later time. Simple carbs, by contrast, cause a spike in blood sugar that quickly dissipates. For sustained energy, eat foods rich in complex carbs.
Don’t forget the fiber: Whole grains are high in fiber, protein, and low in fat. Fruits such as apricots, oranges, plums, pears, and grapefruit are full of necessary vitamins, fiber, and provide a good source of water. Vegetables are also great sources of
fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A nutritious diet leads to a sense of well-being because the body is being given what it needs to be healthy. Make eating a healthy balanced diet a must for your family because it enhances not only physical but emotional wellness as well. And remember, it is always better to get your vitamins and minerals from foods rather than supplements.