Nutrition + Hydration: Going Deeper
In the Basics we learned that hydration is key, nutritional requirements are 100% unique to you, and eating as organic and pesticide free as possible is key. But what about our cravings and eating habits? For details, read on.
What are you craving?
Eating healthy day to day most certainly isn't boring, and even when food cravings pop up it can be an opportunity to listen to our bodies and try to figure out what it's telling us. It's important to note however, that food cravings can sometimes me a signal that something bigger is going on, for example, if you find yourself constantly craving sugar, there can be a range of larger issues that need to be addressed. It is almost important to bring forward the idea that if you are craving a food you are most likely deficient in it--say, red meat for example. However, this is only true is some cases. Craving a certain food group doesn't necessarily mean you are lacking, as sometimes you are craving it because of excess, or for psychological reasons (for example, craving salty popcorn while at the movie theater). In summary, really pay attention to your food cravings and try to break them down. What is really going on? Working with a professional is always a great place to start.
Bringing consciousness to our eating habits
One of the most complex relationships in the human experience is our relationship with food. When trying to understand nutrition at a foundational level, it is a non-negotiable to review your eating habits and how they may be impacting not only your relationship with food, but how food is assimilated and utilized in the body. Use the following questions as a rough guide to prompt this inner discovery and reflection:
1. Do you eat too fast, or too slow?
2. Do you eat late at night?
3. Do you skip meals due to time constraints?
4. Is your nutrition or eating schedule wonky due to travel, parenthood, school, work, etc?
5. When under stress, do you eat too much or too little?
6. Do you eat when you're bored?
7. Do you forget to eat?
8. How many meals do you eat out per day? Per week? Per month?
9. Do you have a history or current struggle with disordered eating habits, such as restrictive eating, anorexia, bulimia, overeating, orthorexia, etc?
10. Do you continue to eat foods that your body does not do well with (ie food sensitivities)?
Identifying food sensitivities
Do you suffer from any of the following conditions: digestive problems, headaches, chronic sinus drainage, low energy, depression, mood swings, eczema, skin irritations, acne, joint aches, asthma, and/or weight gain? Health problems such as these may be related to a specific food or foods eaten frequently. Many people with food sensitivities don’t even realize how awful they feel until the trigger foods are removed from the diet. Food reactions are a frequently overlooked cause of chronic health issues. Some reactions occur immediately after eating the food (allergy), but in other cases, symptoms may be delayed by several hours or even days (referred to as food sensitivity or food intolerance). Removing specific foods from your diet will allow the body to recover and begin to function efficiently again.
These adverse food reactions are common because the same foods are eaten day after day, resulting in greater sensitization to these foods. If the right foods are not eaten, digestion and absorption may be impaired. Additionally, those with weakened immune systems may be more prone to food sensitivities. Protocols such as the Elimination Diet when done with a licensed and experienced healthcare provider can help to uncover food(s) that may be the culprits.
On a day to day basis, try to pay attention to and record instances where you feel suboptimal after eating. Note if there are any correlations with your diet and the way you are feeling. Experiment with removing a food group and see how you do.
EAT THE RAINBOW
Beautiful foods are healthy foods and we are blessed by just about every color of the rainbow when it comes to variations of fruits, vegetables, and other food groups.
Instead of getting the full rainbow of color, you may be eating the standard processed food colors of brown, yellow, and white. For example, think of the typical breakfast menu – waffles, pancakes, ready-to-eat cereal, sausage, and eggs – which does not necessarily provide much color early in the day. However, if you had a fruit smoothie with blueberries, peaches, dark leafy greens, and raspberries, you’d have 3-4 colors of the seven colors of the rainbow first thing in the morning! Make it your goal to get the full seven colors every day with a variety of foods. There are thousands of phytonutrients in nature. If we eat the same foods over and over again, even if they are colorful, we may be missing the universe of important phytonutrients in foods. One helpful hint is to try a new food every week to ensure that you are getting different foods to try!
When we put certain foods together, we may achieve a better effect than if we just had the foods by themselves. Sometimes, there can be a “synergistic” result from combining certain foods. For example, putting turmeric with black pepper together with olive oil could enhance the phytonutrient effects of all three foods on your health. Adding lemon juice to spinach could help the iron become more absorbed by your body. Try putting plant foods together for an enhanced health benefit.
For more information on the phytonutrient spectrum and eating the rainbow, see the Bonuses section.
Copyright © 2018 by Motherhood Medicine.
All rights reserved. These writings or any portion there of many not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review. These writings are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters related to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.