The Dietitians of Canada have named March Nutrition Month 2019. In the spirit of this, let’s look at nutrition in some more depth for this piece on happier (and healthier!) aging.
Allow me to back up a step first. I meet and chat with people every single week about their health. I ask them what their most important goals are. Most people DO NOT WANT fat loss first. They want energy. And health. Vitality. They want the mid-afternoon energy crash gone. They want the drained by 8:30 p.m. feeling gone. They just want to feel good first! Then other health goals are secondary to that. Well, guess where that comes from. Yup, you guessed it — your nutrition. A new exercise program will definitely help with energy. But routine, daily energy crashes stem from your nutrition. There’s a reason why experts in the fitness industry commonly say, “You can’t out-train a bad diet”. It’s even routinely stated that, between exercise and nutrition for health, it’s 80 per cent nutrition and only 20 per cent exercise. That should give us a major clue.
So if you want to eat more cleanly, without it feeling like a highly restricted or boring diet, make a couple key changes.
1. Increase your daily protein. Protein is so important for the health of your body on so many levels. Repair. Protein reduces hunger, reduces cravings (late night cravings too!), improves muscle mass, helps boost your metabolism and fat burning, and is critical for your immune system. Go online and search up a protein calculator (www.bodybuilding.com has a user-friendly one anybody can use) and find out how many grams of protein per day would be ideal for you. If it sounds high, that’s a hint. Not that you need exactly that amount, but certainly over 100 g a day as a rule of thumb to get started. A chicken breast or serving of meat with dinner is about 25-30 grams. Typically people eat under 5g of protein at breakfast and under 15 g at lunch. Ideally it’s 25-35 g of protein at every meal, and 10-15 g of protein at snacks. You can easily see how our bodies are craving food — and it shows up as carb cravings…the bad carbs. So just implementing higher protein snacks is a huge victory.
2. Increase your daily fibre. Not only is fibre essential for your digestive healthy and avoiding digestive system cancers over the years, fibre plays a hunger/craving reducing role as well by making you feel fuller longer. As important, daily fibre helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels, which are two primary ways in which fibre helps you avoid heart disease and diabetes.
In keeping with the goal of helping you increase your protein and fibre intake, here is a list of top 10 favourite snacks, directly from Canadian Dietitians, that include protein and fibre:
1. Carrots and peppers with hummus
2. Almond butter on banana slices
3. Greek yogurt topped with berries
4. Whole grain toast with peanut butter
5. Cheddar cheese and apple slices
6. Small handful of trail mix made with nuts, seeds and raisins
7. Roasted chickpeas and popcorn mix
8. Whole grain cereal with milk
9. Sliced vegetables with yogurt dip
10. Tuna on crackers
Hard boiled eggs are my personal favourite. So easy too.
Hopefully this is helpful guidance in the right direction. Simply increasing your daily protein and fibre intake significantly will make a massive difference in your food cravings, your energy, and your avoidance of chronic deadly diseases.
The only thing you put in your body more than air is food. We’ve inadvertently been taught that exercise is more important than our nutrition. It is unfortunately not the case. If you really want to shift your health, focus more on your nutrition than you have in past. Treat it as more important. For now, more than ever, you are what you eat!
For more information, check out the Dieticians of Canada website www.dietitians.ca and search online for “high protein snacks”.