WHAT TO EAT – JUST THE BASICS
The food we put in our bodies plays an enormous role in our health, wellness, and performance in our daily tasks. Along with getting enough sleep, it is one of the most important aspects of our lives outside the gym. For all of its importance, there is no one single best way to eat. Hence, all the different answers and diets to which you will be referred if you ask someone for a set of rules to follow. Furthermore, everyone is an individual with their own specific needs based on many factors, including genetics, lifestyle, training volume, goals, etc. That being said there are a few basic principles that apply to everyone across diets and lifestyles that should serve as a starting point when deciding what to eat. As with most aspects of our health and fitness, they are fairly simple and logical but not always easy to follow.
Eat Real Food
When I say “real,” I do not mean you shouldn’t eat the imagined food Peter Pan and his cronies eat in the movie Hook (if you find yourself in that situation, ALWAYS partake). What I mean is that you should remove the overly processed foods that have become such a huge percentage of what we find in the grocery store. Meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits – things that you grow or kill are best. Why? The more a food is processed – a potato in potato chips for example – the more nutrients are lost and the more chemicals are added in the name of flavor and preserving the food. These additives can have many negative effects on your digestive tract and minimize the food’s positive benefits. Eat real, minimally processed foods and get the most bang for your buck.
Eat Your Vegetables
This is so important that I am going to give it its own category. Vegetables, especially leafy greens, are an essential part of your diet. There is no better way to get the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. There are a million ways to prepare these so that they are quite enjoyable. If you do not like vegetables, you probably need to open up the ol’ Google and experiment with some new ways of cooking.
Cut Out Sugar
This is the hardest one for most people to do. There is literally sugar in almost everything you eat. Seriously, start reading the nutrition labels of the foods you commonly consume. Almost all of the peanut butter sold has sugar in it. Why is there SUGAR in peanut butter?! But I digress. I am not going to waste your time by discussing the numerous ways sugar damages your body’s insulin production and response and its negative effects on fat production and storage; we all know sugar is bad for us. And yes, there is sugar in fruit, but it is in much lower amounts, and you should not be eating pounds of fruit anyway. The important thing is reading labels and realizing the myriad of insidious ways sugar is included in your diet and learning to avoid those foods. Awareness is your best weapon here. Also, stay away from that Fro-Yo.
Get Your Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of your diet that our bodies do not naturally produce on their own. Traditionally, humans have gotten these primarily from eating grass-fed meats and fish. For a variety of reasons, most people no longer get the quality of meats and fish necessary to get enough of these fatty acids. Supplementation with a quality fish oil supplement is very helpful here and one of the few supplements recommended for almost everyone.
In conclusion, eat like your grandma and grandpa probably ate growing up. Eat your meats and veggies. Eat real foods, not processed junk. Avoid sugar except the kind that naturally comes in fruit. And supplement with fish oil to round out your body’s needs. Again, this is a basic framework. There are a million tweaks that can be made for your particular body and needs. As always, if you have more questions, ask a coach.
Trying to eat my veggies,