4 Nutrition Tips that Don't Include Dieting or Counting Calories
Eat to Enjoy and to Nourish
The key thing here is that you need to be eating enough food during the day so your body can get the most out of the energy you use. If you are engaging in any sort of fitness routine, that means you need to make sure you fueling yourself so you can get the most out of your sessions. Don’t skimp on carbohydrates or protein, especially before you work out. If you are restricting food intake you are not helping your body with it’s ability to handle physical challenge or recover.
If you tend to get busy and focused on other things, set reminders in your calendar to eat. Have snacks that you enjoy on hand for when you are pressed for time. Enlist the help of friends or loved ones to feed you or remind you to eat. If it helps you to remember you can follow a guideline of 3’s, 3 meals, 3 snacks. This is at minimum and will vary depending on how much food you need to eat to keep up with what your body needs.
I don’t typically recommend tracking what you eat, that doesn’t allow for following your internal signals of when and how to feed yourself. However if you find that you are curious about understanding Total Daily Energy Expenditure, you can estimate a place to start from to make sure you are eating enough. Please do not spend a ton of time or energy stressing about this number, trust your body to let you know what it needs for fuel.
I also want to touch on overtraining your body to counteract what you eat. Don’t. This habit means you do not have a healthy relationship with your body, fitness, or food. I know the message of obsessing about food and exercise is everywhere, stop letting it gain admission into your awesome life.
Stop Counting Calories
If you are eating enough food to fuel your activities, there is no need to count calories. Trust your body to tell you what it needs, close the food journal, set it aside and take some deep breaths. In this journey of human existence we have managed to take a unit of measurement and turn it into something with a value judgement. A calorie is not “good” or “bad”.
A calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius. A calorie cannot give you information about how the body digests, absorbs, or metabolizes food. Science has a bit of a grasp on how our body uses calories and there is so much that is unknown.
Rather than worrying about calories, paying attention to how your body feels after eating the food you want to eat. Pay attention to the mental narration that accompanies your meals. If it’s not being nice, turn it off.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time going on about quality calories versus processed foods. Why? Because not every human has access to the same food that I do, for a variety of reasons. If you are in a position to take an activism role for food equity in your city, please get involved. I’ve included a link at the bottom of the post for a great way to get started. Every human being deserves access to food that helps their body stay healthy.
Reduce Stress to Improve Health
We are imperfect creatures, we cannot be perfect about what happens in our lives, this extends to our health. Back when I took my first class about the physiological effects of stress I started thinking about the harm that is done by obsessing over perfection with food and fitness. The physiological cascade that happens when one lives in a state of stress, contributes to a whole host of health issues.
Our society has stigmatized certain body types and then classified those bodies as an “epidemic”. In doing this we’ve created a damaging cycle of dieting, mental, and physical health problems.
Losing weight might seem like a quick and easy fix for your health issues. However, research is showing that dieting doesn’t have sustainable benefits for most people. You may actually do yourself more harm than good.
I recommend reducing stress in your life, getting regular physical movement, in coordination with eating foods that nourish your body, mind, and spirit.
Do your best and focus on what you can manage with your life.
Drink that Water
During the day you may get decent fluid intake from beverages and food, yet be dehydrated. Not having enough water impacts every single system of your body, including the body’s response to stress and ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
The CDC has general recommendations for water intake for adults - women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water from beverages and foods.
Try adding a few more glasses of water to your daily routine and see if that has an impact on how your body feels.