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Taking Care of Ourselves: Eating Well to Live Well

BY RICHELLA BOGGAN, NUTRITIONIST AND COACH | 2021

Put your best fork forward

We all have food choices to make every day. If we make our choices out of looking for comfort and convenience today, we can anticipate less than healthy outcomes. Putting your best fork forward depends on us making a solid behavioural connection between eating well and living well.  Setting up a routine that supports the right nutritional load in your food is easier than you might think, but can require a change in how we think about food. Making what may feel like uncomfortable choices today can help you to make positive changes to your whole system.

Personal responsibility

Holding the power in our decisions as to what to eat and when requires mindful preparation and choice. It is a matter of personal responsibility, and the person who generates the reward from eating well to live well is you. The challenge is that the right food habits often do not fit with our daily routines and therefore may not seem like easy, comfortable choices. Socially acceptable versus biologically normal patterns of eating for our physical wellness often run in opposite directions. One direction leads to disease and illness, the other leads to thriving and enjoying the benefits of healthy living.

What helps is to have an awareness that food has many functions in our lives. One is to provide the raw nutrients that support our life; others relate to celebrating events, rewarding ourselves, creating comfort, dealing with feelings. It is in the chaos of how we use food that we can often lose sight of what serves our biological physical system best, and how ultimately respecting food for its nutritional value needs to take priority.

Here's a recipe for Energy Balls - a healthy snack that's easy to make, and which will help you to start making a change to your snacking habits throughout the day.

Here's the science bit...

Evidence tells us that excessive caloric intake is the major driving force behind an escalating obesity and type two diabetes epidemic worldwide. Poor quality fats and carbs play a significant role in the development of diabetes. Higher glycaemic load and transfats are also associated with an increased risk of Diabetes. Sugar sweetened drinks add directly to visceral fatty adiposity (fat that wraps around your organs). Poor nutrition is responsible for a range of illnesses. But we have the chance to eat better in order to live better.

As we emerge from lock-downs and the shifts in behaviours which this has caused for many of us, we can recognise that our immunity is something we have power to boost through how we eat and what we eat. Other key biomarkers we can boost through quality nutrition include liver function, methylation, oxidation, glycation, lipidation and inflammation - basically, our whole physical system.

It's worth remembering some of the benefits to optimising how and what we eat:

  1. Promotes mental health and mental strength
  2. Promotes emotional balance
  3. Produces increased energy and vitality
  4. Protects from disease
  5. Boosts immunity naturally
  6. Is associated with a long lifespan
  7. Supports the optimism we have about lives

What works well is to keep a simple frame of foods that threaten your ability to live well and foods that reward your ability to live well.

 Examples of Threat Foods

  1. Any processed or ultra-processed food or drinks. The simple act of having to open a packet is a sign that it is likely a processed food.
  2. Fried Food
  3. Cereals, biscuits, cakes, sweets, dairy filled chocolate, desserts, crisps, refined breads.
  4. Cured and smoked foods
  5. Avoid anything that advertises that its ‘low fat’

Examples of Reward Foods

  1. Fruits and Vegetables
  2. Quality Meat and Fish, organic where possible
  3. Nuts, seeds and legumes
  4. High fibre foods wholegrains
  5. High quality dark chocolate in small amounts

Putting your best fork forward daily means to work on deriving your calories from 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% Fibre rich carbohydrates, and 25% from protein rich food. We can start making a positive change today in our eating habits.

Top Tips to maximise your personal nutritional integrity

  1. 80/20 rule. At least 80% of the time stick to a flexible quality nutritional plan, and save the other 20% for holidays and real celebrations
  2. Rest your system for at least 12 hours a day where you don’t eat anything, only drink water.
  3. Leave a minimum of 4 hours between your last foods and sleep time.
  4. There is no substitute for water. Upgrade the quality of the water you drink.
  5. Slow down and eat mindfully chewing your food well.
  6. Eat a variety of colour and texture and have a raw component to each meal.
  7. Find rewards that are not food related
  8. Own your own success, and recruit the right qualified help and support.

In short, the power is in our hands - we can do it, eating well to live well, taking care of ourselves one forkful at a time.

You can learn more about nutrition and eating well to live well in our Nutrition Made Easy course. 

Felicity McCarthy headshot

About the author

Richella is an Irish Times Training tutor, a clinical nutritional therapist, high impact leadership mentor, performance coach and master coach trainer with advanced Neuroscience. She delivers the Nutrition Made Easy course.

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