That Gut Feeling
- Could you be allergic to what’s on your plate?
- Struggling with weight loss? You need to get smarter than just cutting out food groups.
- You get clothes smart with weather. Do you get ‘food smart’ too?
- Wondering why diets are not working? Hello! When was the last time you met you?
Let’s face it. At one point or the other in our lives the topic of food and what it does to our body has surfaced. It may have been your mother valiantly admonishing you to select your greens over the in-your-face junk, that energetic friend with a fab body dishing dietary advice, your exasperated spouse obliquely referring to your stubborn, unrestrained eating habits, your trainer insisting on you maintaining a food diary or your doctor ticking you off politely, striking favourite food items off your daily buffet. You would probably have to be from Mars to say that food has never come up in a conversation.
This blog is not going to be a sermon on good and bad food habits. I am sure you have googled ‘super effective diet plans’, ‘how to lose weight without dieting and exercising’, ‘quick weight loss’, and enticing quick fixes to life altering searches by now. I am also sure these searches get more creative depending on mood and zeal.
“What I am going to do is, highlight a few additional pointers that should be on your radar at some point and definitely if you are starting to get serious about food related goals.”
First, appreciate how the word “nutrition” needs to be differentiated from the loosely (and widely) used term “diet”. As a dummy’s guide – what you put in your mouth is your diet, and what your body is able to extract from it is nutrition. It should then be no rocket science to realize that ‘nutrition’ is what dictates how the body behaves and performs (and how this eventually impacts the mind).
“Garbage in, garbage out” is unfortunately not restricted to just computers.
We could be eating, but not eating right. And what is ‘right’? This is the tricky part. By and large, it is what serves your body the best in keeping it healthy (internally and externally), functioning as seamlessly and painlessly as possible, and serving whatever goals you have set out for yourself. Weight management is a big and important part of it, but not all of it. Apart from being aware about your calories, here’s a truth to acknowledge: not all calories are equal and neither are the sources for the same calories. One item may be nutritionally superior to another for the same set of calories. It’s all a matter of getting smart about eating. That said, a few other points to keep in mind about your eating.
From being lethal to creating mild, continuous discomfort, food allergies are more prevalent than we might think. These could be triggered by a variety of food items in our daily diet. Milk, eggs, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, wheat, grains with gluten, fish/shellfish, soy, are some common triggers. There are uncommon sources too. Symptoms of food allergies could be many – skin rashes; runny nose; tickle in the throat; red, itchy, runny eyes; upset stomach, cramps, diarrhea; vomiting, gas and/or feeling bloated; swollen lips, tongue, throat; trouble breathing; chest pain; passing out etc. Sometimes it’s difficult figuring out allergies and assigning them as possible causes of persistent health issues one may face. But it’s important to start paying attention to what is being consumed, especially if health issues keep recurring. It’s equally important to know that one can develop an allergy at any age. Keeping a food journal can help analyzing flare ups and narrow potential triggers. Allergies not only cause inconvenience, they could also compromise the gut’s ability to process food properly, leading to more health issues. A happy gut is a happy body. Any diet and nutrition plan should be sensitive to this fact.
I have mentioned this in my earlier blog (Stop Wishing, Start Doing) that simply focusing on cutting down food intake for weight loss is not enough. Keep an eye on your alcohol consumption, especially if trying to lose weight and belly fat (even with an exercise plan in place). Alcohol is calories. You don’t have to totally give it up, but there is absolutely every case for keeping an eye on amount/frequency of consumption.
WEATHER IT OUT:
The body burns more calories trying to keep itself warm in cold climate. It is comparatively easier to digest heavier foods then. Hot liquids help the body stay warm. In hotter weather, the body needs more hydration, cooler and lighter food to function well. One needs to replenish the salts lost in sweating to avoid cramping and weakness, especially if one is working outdoors or exposed to the heat. The body is amazing and smart, really. It sends out intuitive signals, including those based on weather. All we need to do is tune in and follow them.
EATING FOR PERFORMANCE:
Nutrition can make or break performance. It’s not just what to eat, it’s also when to eat what. While this is true for the general population, it becomes acutely relevant for those pursuing any sport or endurance/athletic pursuits. Athletes are now usually aware of the need to structure their eating plans as much as their training plans. Nutrition also plays a big role in coping with illness and health conditions. In both scenarios, it’s eating for performance – for the body to cope with and deliver what is being demanded of it.
AGE IS A NUMBER:
Yes and no. It’s not a number for chasing dreams and reaching for the impossible. But it becomes a number in eating right to make that dream a reality. Our body changes over time with the natural process of ageing. At any age we need to eat as per the demands being placed on the body. Additionally, one also needs to eat mindful of the body’s changing status (demand vs supply of energy), ability to process various foods, health of ageing muscles and bones, changing metabolism and any age related health issues. Even for the same goal, nutritional planning needs to be mindful of the age and how the body can be made to cope and deliver. For e.g. a marathoner can be of any age, but the nutritional requirements to run a strong marathon should factor in the age of the runner to deliver best results. An effective nutrition plan will then not only boost performance but also aid in better post run recovery and injury prevention.
The word says it all. These are meant to “supplement” your diet. Whether natural, organic or otherwise, it is wise to remember that no matter what the claims of manufacturers, these are not the panacea they are usually made out to be. They can be helpful in addressing some deficiencies that might exist, and are often periodically prescribed even by doctors. But if you expect any supplement to right a wrong without making adequate lifestyle choices (read nutrition and exercise), you are being willfully naïve and short sighted.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Get smart about yourself. Ignorance is not bliss when it concerns your health. Take charge of your eating, your movement, your attitude towards health and you’ll be able to reclaim life more.