Writer / Kate Boston
The first few months of a new year is refreshing and exciting as many of us resolve to improve the quality of our lives with new year’s resolutions. Often, wellness and weight goals are at the top of the list. After all, nothing else much matters if we aren’t well enough to truly enjoy it. Many people resolve to diet to lose the extra pounds gained throughout the holiday season or perhaps pounds that have stealthily crept up over the years.
Although it is true that in some cases weight loss can improve quality and length of life, the number on the scale does not necessarily equate to health and wellness if we aren’t eating balanced meals with foods rich in nutritional value. While popular, fad diets often result in quick weight loss and then quick weight regain with little focus on long-term nutritional health. For many people, focusing on the scale rather than the plate will derail health goals time and time again.
When healthy, our bodies’ physiological processes work as they should, enabling us to function efficiently. Our bodies should provide us with enough mental and physical energy to not only survive but enjoy each day. Did you know that the food and beverages we consume directly affect our mood, energy and health, giving each of us control in how we feel daily? It’s true!
A diet rich in whole foods including vegetables, fruit, lean protein, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains is abundant in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, which boost metabolism, speed fat burning, reduce inflammation, stabilize energy, elevate mood and decrease risk of diseases like obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, metabolic disease, digestive disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Would you like a carrot?
On the contrary, a diet rich in convenience and processed foods including refined grains like white flour, white bread, white rice, cookies, candies, cakes, chips, fried food, bacon, sausage, soda and fast food is abundant in salt, sugar and saturated fat which slow metabolism, reduce fat burning rate, clog blood vessels, fuel inflammation, decrease energy and may cause depression. As a result, processed foods greatly increase risk of obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, metabolic disease, digestive disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer. One doesn’t need to completely avoid processed foods to be healthy, but they should be limited and only consumed in moderation.
In many cases, processed foods lack natural nutrients, phytochemicals, fiber and often don’t leave us feeling satisfied for very long. Because of this, we tend to eat larger portions of these foods more frequently, which intensifies the negative effect they have on our health. Think back – when was the last time you overindulged in cookies and candy? The resulting blood sugar swings and sugar cravings probably had you going back for seconds and maybe thirds without you even realizing it. Now, think back to when was the last time you overindulged in apples and broccoli? Likely never. It’s very difficult to overeat natural food because it is packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber which trigger our bellies and brains to sense satiety, slow digestion and turn off hunger cues, as real food should.
As a passionate dietitian, I wish nutritional health and wellness upon everyone. With more than a decade of experience in the field, I have found that slow and steady weekly changes, with a focus on good nutrition rather than goal weight, prove to be the most successful and sustainable approach to lasting weight loss and wellness. Being thin isn’t healthy if we’re consuming adequate calories but inadequate nutrition.
A well-balanced plate is ½ fruit and non-starchy vegetables, ¼ lean protein and ¼ whole grains or starchy vegetables. Select foods from every food group and produce of every color to incorporate throughout each day, as all foods offer different vitamins and minerals in varying amounts.
Nourish up from the inside out. Rather than allowing the number on the scale to proclaim your health, focus on cultivating your plate, one meal at a time, with natural food. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with how small plate changes over time result in long-lasting wellness and weight control. Eat to live the life you crave.
Article and recipe courtesy of Kate Boston, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Cultivate Your Plate. For more information on her Nutrition Coaching and Education Services, visit cultivateyourplate.com.