What is a nutrient? A nutrient is defined as: a substance that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and growth. So, nutrition is therefore the process of obtaining or providing the food necessary for life or growth. But how do you distinguish between what is ‘essential’ or ‘necessary’ and what is not? Are Peanut Butter Oreos essential for life and growth? I wish they were but they are not! Is water essential for life and growth? Definitely. Something I feel passionately about is nutrition education; I think that doctors or nutritionists should partner with educators to introduce nutrition education into mainstream schooling. However, until that happens, it is our duty to educate ourselves.
Nutrition is scientific. There is a guideline on the back of your food containers that tells you your ‘Recommended Daily Amount’ of each vitamin and mineral as well as your recommended intake of calories, carbohydrates, fat, sugars, fiber, protein, etc. This guide can be altered based on whether you are looking to gain weight, maintain your weight, or lose weight. There may be some readers shaking their heads, and trust me, I know it is more complicated than this, but for now, let’s keep it simple. Foods have different compositions of each nutrient so you can customise your diet to ensure you are getting appropriate amounts of all of them. This is why fad diets don’t work. You are restricting yourself and maybe even eating something that your body isn’t used to, which can have all sorts of crazy effects on your body.
Have you ever heard of “Freelee: The Banana Girl?” This is a Youtube star who tells her followers to eat a diet solely consisting of bananas (and a limited selection of raw vegan foods). This girl is a fruitarian so she only eats fruit. She even puts bananas in a blender with water and calls it “banana milk.” Personally, I think she should be sectioned. If you are only eating fruit and working out a lot, you might look fantastic but your body will literally be surviving on a constant sugar rush. Fruit contains Fructose, which is a form of sugar that is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. I won’t bore you with the science but if you ask a nutritionist what they think of a diet solely consisting of bananas, they will probably laugh in your face.
So, let me be clear, I am not a nutritionist. There is so much I don’t know, but what I do know is that fad diets, restrictive diets, diets where you only eat bananas, are not maintainable. So, what do I eat as part of my ‘diet’? Right now, I’m eating lots of kale, spinach, green apples, cucumber, celery, oats, almond milk, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, coconut milk, lean meats, sweet potatoes, lemons, eggs, fish, rice and greek yoghurt. These are some of the foods that I buy and consume on a regular basis. But this changes all the time. Get the picture? It’s all about balance and variety. You can probably find something from every single food group in my kitchen. The paleo and primal lifestyles are the ones that have appealed to me the most because they are all about eating clean, non-processed foods. This just makes sense to me. When I first started making “clean” meals, I thought to myself, “this tastes and feels really healthy.”
Where do I learn about food? Honestly, I follow nutritionists, dieticians, personal trainers, and other professionals on Instagram and I look at photos of what they are eating. There are a couple of blogs I follow as well, for recipes and to see other people’s stories. It also helps that one of my good friends and colleagues, Karen from ‘Good Clean Chow,’ is a nutritionist and she is kind enough to share tips and info with me every now and then. I am constantly seeking information on the internet and Google-ing ingredients or foods I haven’t heard of before. As we all know, the internet is full of rubbish, so I try to get my information from responsible and credible sources. I am a young professional who doesn’t have the kind of budget to afford a nutritionist, a dietician, or a personal chef, so I spend a lot of time educating myself. My friends might tell you that I am obsessed with food and I am sure it can come across that way sometimes because I do talk about it a lot. But I want to make sure that I am feeding myself things that will benefit my body rather than harm it. As I mentioned in my previous post, there is the constant worry that I will get fat or unhealthy again, and I will do everything I possibly can to make sure that doesn’t happen, starting with what I eat. I am still a work in progress, and lately I feel I may have hit a wall, but as Karen reminded me the other day, sometimes you need to congratulate yourself on the progress you have made rather than beating yourself up about how far you still have to go.