Nutrition 101: Small Changes Make a Big Difference

by Michele Johnson

Dieting in the New Year?  Have you been trying to lose weight year after year only to find yourself gaining it back? The problem with crash diets and excessive exercise routines is that they are not meant for long-term results. In fact, crash diets may actually make you gain more weight in the long run. Because your body doesn’t understand why it’s not receiving the same amount of calories as it’s used to, it switches into survival mode, slowing down your metabolism and storing the fat you want to shed. Instead of shocking your body, make small changes at a pace that you, your body, and your lifestyle can handle.

Want to make this year different? First, you must learn to understand how your body works. Try keeping track of what and when you eat. Do you crave something sweet after a meal? Make a note. Does lunch feel like it’s lacking something without those salty potato chips? Jot it down. Try keeping a journal for a week—longer if you can. Keeping track of your meals and cravings will help you understand your body and your bowel transit time (the time it takes your body to break down and move food through your digestive system).  This will allow you to better understand your daily energy levels and the amount of nutrients absorbed in your body.

You probably know that proper hydration is vital for a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that you should only sip, not gulp, water during meals? Your saliva contains digestive enzymes, which are literally watered down when you gulp; when you sip, you allow your body to break down foods and absorb nutrients to its best ability. Don’t like the taste of water? This could be an indicator of high toxicity levels in your kidneys, which means you actually need more water than the average person. Try adding flavors to help you get used to the idea of water. Drinking water between meals will balance your hunger levels and cravings—especially for those salty foods!

Of course, you should eat a minimum of three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. However, did you know you should eat fruits first and veggies throughout? The reason for this brings us back to transit time—if you eat fruit after a meal, it will digest faster than the food already in your stomach, causing water retention and gas. You should also avoid prepackaged foods, which have no natural digestive enzymes and make your body work harder.

Proper planning is key. Keep a food journal and grocery shop at the beginning of each week. Make time to clean your produce and portion your snacks ahead of time. If you know what you’re going to eat each day, you’re less likely to slip up and eat something outside of your diet. Joining a class or group centered on healthy eating will help you hold yourself accountable for your eating habits and will help keep you on track.

To learn more, join Vitality Unlimited Spa’s monthly nutrition classes the last Thursday of each month at 6:30PM. For groups with specific needs, other days/times are available. For individual health concerns, Michele Johnson is available for one-on-one consultations.