For the past three weeks I have been giving nutrition seminars at my local gym. The gym’s program coordinator knows me fairly well from going there so often and doing some of my spin certification there, so she knew I was working on my Masters degree in nutrition and asked me to fill in for their regular nutrition presenter. I presented to a variety of programs generally focused in weight loss and was asked to just discuss Nutrition 101. Ok, there are university courses for nutrition 101, there are doctoral programs for nutrition 101, there are lifelong careers dedicated to nutrition 101, but here I was, attempting to give participants the basics of nutrition in 45 minutes. It was really tough creating such a presentation but it really allowed me to reflect on my nutrition philosophy and what I wanted to convey to people about how and what to eat.
I love catchy quotes, so that will make up the basis of this post, but I also threw some in to my nutrition presentations as well. The biggest point I tried to make was that nutrition wasn’t about taking in an exact number of grams of carbohydrates per day, or counting each and every calorie, it was about small changes that allowed your lifestyle to support healthy eating. It was about thinking of food in a new way, enjoying and savouring the flavours of food and fuelling your body with the highest quality nutrition.
Nutrition isn’t restriction and eating unhealthy food isn’t a “reward,” it’s a punishment to your body. A lot of my presentation came from my scientific background. I had to learn the Krebs cycle, I had a million flashcards for the amino acids and all of their many transformations, and I know the biochemical reactions that allows food to be used as fuel, which makes my approach to eating possibly different than others. When I look at an ingredients list and see a chemical, I think about when I learned how it was broken down in the body… and the truth is, I didn’t learn that. Our bodies are trained so well to process foods that grow in nature, but the chemicals and artificial substances that make up a way too much of society’s food today? Nope, our bodies are clueless. Chances are, if you don’t recognize the ingredient, your body probably doesn’t either.
Without talking about statistical significance, randomized control trials, meta-analyses, and how I try to find current nutrition information, I attempted to convey to my seminar participants that short-term solutions to lose weight now won’t work for a lifetime. A quick fix or fast solution isn’t really a solution at all.
One of my favourite type-A life quotes is “failing to plan is planning to fail,” because it is basically how I run my life. I have seven colour-coded categories in my agenda for goodness sake. I talked a bit about this in my presentation because I think it is really important for those looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle, adopt some healthy habits, and in the case of the programs I was speaking to, lose weight. Planning can make a huge difference and I don’t just mean food prepping every Sunday (although that is really fun and awesome), I mean family support in healthy eating, learning new cooking techniques and trying new recipes in the kitchen, and exploring new foods at the grocery store. Plan for a healthy life and it might actually happen!
Of course, I talked about the importance of macro and micro nutrients and the meaning of nutrient dense foods, and what ratio of carbohydrates-fats-proteins to include in your daily intake, but I hope what came across was lifestyle. I attempted to bust a few nutrition myths, provide people with insight into how to trust nutrition information, and give a basis for daily meal plans, but I wanted to show that food wasn’t an enemy and in fact, was a pretty incredible part of our lives.
It’s really hard to live by this philosophy in a convenience-based, artificial food-filled, world, but I think having these thoughts in the back of my mind when I am packing my lunch or making dinner is a really good thing. Everyone has their own idea of what “healthy eating” is and often it’s different than mine but that’s okay. I don’t always make the best decisions and I don’t know one person who eats perfectly, but having a healthy relationship with food and its role in a healthy lifestyle is one of the best things you will ever do for yourself.
Do you have some nutrition words you live by?
What does healthy eating mean to you?