5 Basics to Better Nutrition

5 easy steps to improve your diet now!

5 Basics of Better Nutrition 

1.  Drink water! 

  • Shoot for somewhere between one-third to one-half of your body weight in ounces.  Example:  If you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking between 50 and 75 ounces of water per day. 
  • Americans are chronically dehydrated and often misinterpret their body’s dehydrated signal for hunger.  If you’re hungry, try drinking 10 ounces of water and wait 15 minutes.  If you’re still hungry, then eat.  
  • Increase by at least 8-10 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise.
  • Since water can contain environmental toxins, be sure to use as clean a source as possible. 
    • Use a filter on your home faucets.  A good resource to research this is:www.consumerreports.org/cro/water-filters.htm
    • Avoid plastic water bottles, as xenoestrogens and other plastic-related toxins can leach into the water.  Instead, choose stainless steel or glass containers.
    • Avoid distilled water because it is void of essential electrolytes.  Opt for spring water.

2.  Make an eating plan.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

  • Lack of a plan and time is one of the biggest reasons people fail.
  • Set aside one day per week to devise your eating plan.  Plan out when andwhat you will eat everyday for the entire week.  This may be difficult the first few times you do it, but it gets easier and more efficient every time you do it.
  • You can also spend this time cooking meals for the rest of the week.  This doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal.  It may consist of baking several chicken breasts and steaming vegetables.

3.  Plan to eat 5-6 times per day, which equates to every 2-3 hours.  This will naturally reduce your portion sizes and stimulate your metabolism.  Think of your metabolism as a fire.  You want to feed your fire small amounts of wood often to keep it burning hot (which means you’re burning more calories at rest).  If you place a large log (large meal) in the fire, it will smolder and take a long time to burn.  This will also help maintain a healthy blood sugar level, reduce cravings and increase energy.  You may find yourself very full throughout the day at first.  This will eventually pass as your metabolism begins roaring.

  • My ideal day:
    • Fast for 12 hours every day.  If you eat dinner at 7pm, don’t eat breakfast until 7am.  “Minifasts” help prevent leptin insensitivity and have been shown to help sustain weight-loss.
    • Light cardiovascular exercise shortly after waking up and before breakfast.  You’re already in fat-burning mode since you’ve been fasting for 12 hours.  This allows you to access stored fat right away.
    • Eat most of your carbs in the first half of the day.  This better ensures you being able to burn them off.
    • Be sure to have protein and fruit/vegetable at each meal to maintain a slow absorption of any sugars or starches. I love nut butters (almonds, walnut, cashew) and a vegetable (celery) or fibrous fruit (apple) as a snack.
    • Dinner consists of vegetables and protein only.  No starches.  Maybe fruit for dessert. 
    • Light exercise after dinner.

4.  Eat 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  This serves a lot of purposes.

  • It quickly increases the amount of antioxidants you’re getting in your diet.  These are essential for combating the effects of stress and toxicity on your body.
  • It assures you’re getting adequate fiber in your diet (preferably >30 grams per day).  Fiber is essential for digestive and cardiovascular health (lowering cholesterol).  Most Americans get <10 grams per day.
  • If you’re eating 9 servings per day, there’s not much room for other, less healthy foods.
  • Follow the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” guidelines. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

5.  Eat whole foods.  You should be able to grow it, kill it, or pluck it from a tree.  Eat as close to the way your ancestors have for the past several thousands of years.

  • Processed foods are depleted of nutrients during the manufacturing process and then often “fortified” with cheap forms of vitamins, different from that which was originally in the food. 
  • Additives, colorings and artificial flavorings are synthetic compounds your body is not used to identifying.  This can affect how your body interprets food.  Examples:
    • Artificial sweeteners can cause people to eat more calories overall during the day. 
    • Taking artificial additives/colorings out of a child’s diet can improve symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
    • MSG causes hyperstimulation of the nervous system, leading to headaches, anxiety and poor concentration.
  • Hydrogenated and highly processed oils/fats cause inflammation.
  • Sugar, in nature, is difficult to obtain.  Fruits high in sugar generally are accompanied by a hefty dose of fiber to decrease how fast the sugar is absorbed (Example: apple).  Honey is very sweet, but you have to be willing to fight off a few bees to get it.  The average Americans ingests around 3 pounds of sugar per week!!  Sugar increases inflammation and diminishes immune function.

Remember, health is achieved one habit at a time.  Slow and steady wins the race. No matter how many times you read it, the tortoise always wins!

Be well,

Dr. May



Twitter:  @drmaynd

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Margaret Santjer February 01, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Thanks for the healthy reminders, Dr. May! It's so easy to just sit and drink coffee at work. By the way, does decaf count in the ounces of water equation?


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