Good nutrition is about more than losing—or gaining—weight. Making wise choices about the foods and beverages you consume lays the groundwork to improve your health for years to come.
“Most people would be surprised at how making a few simple changes can influence your overall health,” says Natasha Weddle, founder of TNB Fitness and The New Beginnings Center in Nashville. “Many people think that what you eat and drink only influences your body weight, but your energy levels, health and fitness—in fact, the way your body functions—are dependent on good nutrition.”
From building stronger bones and muscles to ensuring your digestive, cardiovascular and brain functions work well, nutrition is key.
“Too much or too little of a particular food or type of food can be detrimental,” Natasha says, noting the human body depends on the right combination of foods to function well.
“Carbohydrates—particularly breads, white flour and sugar—often play a role in diminishing the overall health of Americans,” Natasha says. “Added sugar is the single-worst ingredient in the modern diet. People are eating way too much of it.”
Sugar is a major culprit in the growing incidence of obesity.
“Obesity is a complex problem with multiple causes, but among the likely suspects, sugar is high on the list,” according to an article by Dr. Chiadi E Ndumele with Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Over the past half-century, obesity rates have skyrocketed. In 1962, 46% of adults in the U.S. were considered overweight or obese. By 2010, that figure had jumped to 75%.”
In addition to obesity, sugar intake contributes to the increased occurrence of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“If you don’t do anything else, please monitor and work to decrease your sugar intake,” Natasha says. “The average American consumes the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day, found in soft drinks, added to hot drinks, plus used in packaged prepared meals and multiple-ingredient foods.”
Sugar is hidden in many foods. Foods labeled “low fat” often are enhanced with extra sugar.
“Learn to read labels and make better choices,” Natasha says. “Even if you just cut out 30% of your sugar intake, you’re making better choices.”
Natasha says too many people take the approach of short-term adjustments, whether their goal is to lose weight or change an eating habit.
“Some say it takes 30 days to adopt a new habit, but to actually make a lasting change, starting with little steps and being consistent over the long haul is much more beneficial,” she says.
Natasha says diets never work to help you change your weight.
“In fact, most people who diet may lose the weight, but as soon as they return to former eating habits, they regain what they’ve lost and then some,” she says. “Replace this yo-yo dieting with a commitment to change your eating habits and make better nutrition choices the majority of the time.
“Certainly, you can allow yourself to splurge from time to time, but the secret to managing your weight is to think about what you’re eating and choose wisely way more often than not. That way, you’ll slowly improve your nutrition and health.”
10 Tips to Improve Your Nutrition, No Matter Your Goal
- Kick the sugar habit.
- Consciously make healthier choices such as snacking on a handful of nuts or raw vegetables instead of a candy bar or crackers.
- If you think you’re hungry, first try drinking a glass of water. Your body may be signaling it’s beginning to be dehydrated.
- Drink a full glass of water before each meal.
- Use a smaller plate at mealtimes. The amount of food will look bigger, and you will naturally eat fewer calories.
- Fill one-fourth of your plate with protein and three-fourths with a wide variety of vegetables.
- Reduce your intake of carbohydrates such as white bread, starchy vegetables and high-sugar fruits. Instead, eat more protein, including eggs and whey protein, plus vegetables and fruits that will add more fiber to your meals.
- To pay attention to what you’re consuming, always eat at the table without distractions, even when snacking.
- Slow down and savor your food.
- Resolve to make nutritional lifestyle changes rather than “going on a diet.”
Source: Natasha Weddle, TNB Fitness