Today I would like to talk about balance. In my opinion, balance is the key to a healthy and joyful life. Balance applies to all things in life; work and play, easy times and difficult times, friends and family, but today we’re going to focus on balance in relation to food and health.
I’m sure you’ve heard of and maybe even tried several of the diets out there: Atkins, South Beach, Zone, and Weight Watchers – just to name a few. Most of these diets are a one size fits all, unbalanced and unrealistic for life-long health… Not to mention restrictive and not very much fun! As a nutrition consultant, when I work with clients I look at their lifestyle, metabolism, age, activity level, digestive capability, possible nutrient deficiencies as well as many other variables while designing an individual, balanced meal and activity plan. Biochemical individuality means different people have different needs, so choosing a diet that puts you in a check box is risky business. Working with a nutrition consultant to fit your specific needs is important.
Balance between macronutrients per individual is crucial. Macronutrients are protein , carbohydrates, and fat. The ratio at macronutrients always depends on the individual. For example, I eat a diet consisting of about 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 25% fat. The sources of macronutrients must be clean! When I say clean, I mean good quality- organic, pasture-raised, local (antibiotic and hormone free).
Let’s talk about macronutrients and some common ideas about them…
Meat has been getting a bad rep: it causes cancer, heart disease, etc. We’ve all heard it, right?! All of the studies have been done on commercial meat loaded with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. The studies also don’t take into account the quantity of meat and what else the person’s diet consists of. If a person’s diet consists of commercial meat along with processed, refined foods, then we have a big problem. Meat is acidic, and cancer does thrive in an acidic environment; but if one’s diet consists of clean animal products with an abundant amount of whole plant foods, then it’s a balance (and a pH balance). Again, we are looking at QUALITY and QUANTITY along with what else a person eats and what their activity level is…so let’s not jump on the animal foods CAUSE cancer wagon just yet…(I’m not passing judgment on vegetarians or vegans by any means! Just to clarify 🙂
Fat makes you make…not true! It’s about the quality of the fat and ratio to other macronutrients. Healthy fats are absolutely crucial to good health!! Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, nuts, seeds are examples. Trans fats, hydrogenated oils (in processed & fried foods) are damaged and damage our cells. Bad fats actually prevent good fats from being absorbed properly.
Carbs are the devil…not always! We all need carbs to survive because they convert into usable energy. What kind of carbs is the question. Vegetables are the best carb source to consume. Whole grains, such as quinoa, millet, amaranth, and brown rice are also good choices. Carbs also need to be in balance with proteins and fats. Consuming a diet HIGH in carbs will likely cause weight gain and blood sugar issues to say the least. Moderate carb intake is good. What’s the difference between refined and whole carbs? Whole food carbs have all of the fiber and nutrients intact, which fuel the body! Fiber slows the glycemic response, which regulates blood sugar and helps maintain healthy bowels. Refined carbs, such as pasta, chips, crackers, cakes, spike blood sugar and eventually leads to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer to name a few. So bring on the veggies please!
Balance between healthy food and “treats” must also be in balance to prevent over-restriction and binges (unless one has an allergy or a disease/disorder that restricts certain foods). I like to follow the 80/20 rule: eating well 80% of the time and allowing room for treats 20% of the time. Also keep in mind that treats can be healthy!! For instance, rather than eating a chocolate bar full of high fructose corn syrup & artificial ingredients, one could make homemade cocoa balls with coconut butter and ground almonds.
I hope everyone has a balanced day!!