With fad diets so prevalent in today’s society it’s easy to see why so many people find nutrition confusing. There’s a lot of confusing and unhelpful advice out there, ranging from the borderline dangerous to the completely ridiculous!
The truth is that properly fuelling our bodies at regular intervals is one of the crucial components of good health both physically and mentally. When our bodies and energy levels are depleted, we can’t function optimally. Without proper nutrition for sustained periods of time, we can become chronically tired and low on energy.
When you eat is as important as what you eat
Good nutrition is all about the what, and the when. What you’re eating is important – balanced, whole foods-heavy, plenty of protein and fruit and vegetables. Often we are more hungry (and consequently eat more) because the quality of what we are eating isn’t there.For example, if your diet is high in refined carbs and sugars but doesn’t feature much protein or fruit and veg, something needs to change.
But when and how you eat, your daily eating habits, also hold the key to optimal health and wellbeing.
Are you eating enough at the right times?
If you’re struggling with low energy, or find yourself putting on or losing weight without trying, it could be down not just to your diet, but when you’re eating and how much. Symptoms of irregular diet or fluctuating blood sugar include:
Low or erratic energy levels: If you find yourself ‘crashing’ mid-afternoon and need to keep eating to maintain your energy levels, they may be affected by irregular eating.
Mood swings: Irritability, ‘brain fog’ and increased stress can all be associated with diet. Poor diet and irregular eating can also contribute to conditions including anxiety and depression.
Long-term lethargy and fatigue: Over time if you aren’t fuelling your body properly it may affect your metabolism – making you feel tired all the time.
‘3 square meals’ vs ‘little and often’
Some schools of thought say that three proper meals a day are best – others say eating small meals and snacks at intervals throughout the day (between 8 and 12) is beneficial. So which is right? The answer lies in you and your unique appetite and energy levels. One type of eating will suit some people, whilst others may respond better to a different style.
Each of us has a unique metabolic rate that fluctuates over time. We all burn calories differently, and have varying levels of activity. Therefore our needs are different to the next person, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution for everybody. It’s important to identify how much of our eating lies in habits, and how much of it is the body naturally just doing what it needs to do. This is where intuitive eating comes in.
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is a phrase coined to describe a return to our ancestral eating habits, where we eat when we are hungry, and don’t deny ourselves food because it isn’t the ‘right time’. Similarly we don’t overeat when perhaps we need something else, like rest or water. Some intuitive eating tips include:
Slowing down: Eat slowly and take time out to eat. Stop eating on the go, standing up or at your desk! This allows you to properly chew and process your food, so you’ll get more nourishment out of it and stay fuller for longer.
Remembering to eat: Busy lifestyles often mean we forget to eat or gab something quickly on the go. But burnout culture isn’t healthy for us – especially when it impacts on our eating habits. Be sure to prepare food in advance and ensue you’re never without anything to eat, even if you’re in a hurry.
Eat when you’re hungry: Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t deny yourself food because somebody says so. Similarly, don’t eat when you’re not hungry (this is harder to do and requires the next step)
Tune in to your body: Listen to and become attuned to the sensations within your body and what they mean. Some signs you used to attribute to hunger may not be what you previously thought.
Eat more when you do more: If you’ve been a long walk or had an intense gym session, remember to eat more to refuel properly.
Hydrate: Drinking enough water is incredibly important, as sometimes our appetite is affected by thirst, not hunger. Drink 8L a day of water or non-caffeinated fluids such as herbal tea to help your body to function optimally.
Don’t obsess over calories: Counting calories can be helpful if you want to lose weight, but don’t obsess over it. This can colour you view of eating and stop you from eating enough, or eating when you really need to.
Our bodies are amazing things – so it’s really important to look after them! If you’re in need of a pick-me-up or want to help detoxify and support your body, call me today to discuss how my specialised treatments can help.