How to manage your own nutrition: Tips for eating better
Eating healthy isn’t really about losing weight. It’s about nutrition, giving yourself more energy, improving your mood, keeping sickness away (all important things right now) and in the long run, living longer. In fact, it’s so important that it’s recognized as a specialty within the medical sector, known as Nutrition and Food Service Management. Nutrition management is needed for diverse situations, such as patients with diabetes or cancer, those in palliative care, or people who just had surgery. But before you can help others, you need to help yourself. Here’s a few ways you, personally, can eat healthier, from Insider, Thrillist and The Active Times. Some of these strategies could be scaled up in a nutrition management career.
Don’t just eat something because it says it’s healthy
Something can loudly call itself low-calorie or fat-free and still have a lot of other unhealthy things in it, like salt or sugar. For example, whole wheat bread isn’t healthier by default. It CAN be, but you need to make sure the specific one you’ve chosen is actually better for you. It always comes down to the same thing: Learn to read the nutrition labels. They never lie!
There’s such a thing as too much of the good stuff
Just because you’re eating fresh, whole foods doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about portions. These foods still contain sugars, salts, fats and other things you don’t want too much of. It’s possible to overeat good foods, too.
There IS such a thing as too little of the bad stuff
Just eating less isn’t the key either, because if you inadvertently starve yourself, your body’s metabolism will slow down and it’ll start storing more of what you eat, as well as making you more hungry and tired.
Carbohydrates aren’t bad
So often, after a tiny bit of research, people trying to eat healthy will just decide to stop eating high-carb foods, such as pasta and bread. But they provide your body with energy, so while cutting them may cause some immediate weight loss, it’s not actually good for you and might actually make you feel burnt out, thanks to all the blood sugar you’ll lose.
You need to eat breakfast
Skipping meals just leads to weight gain, and does weird things to your body’s metabolism, triggering that starving state I mentioned above. Eating a well-balanced breakfast is a great way to fuel your body for that all-important start of the day.
Pay attention to what you drink
It’s not just what you eat that’ll affect your health. Unless you’re only drinking water and black coffee, the liquids you take in can be bad or good for you as well. Keep the cream and sugar out of your coffee, watch your alcohol intake, and consider some nutritious smoothies. Beer, in particular, is often the same as drinking bread.
Don’t overload yourself on protein
Protein is important and has the advantage of making you feel full and building muscle – but have more of it than you need and it’ll just get turned into more fat. So, if you’re making a protein shake, don’t overload it, and definitely don’t try to live off of them exclusively. Again, a balanced diet is the key.
Don’t fall off the wagon on weekends
Cheat days happen, but entire cheat weekends can be bad for you and can easily cancel out all of the good things you took in during the week.
Keep your diet mixed
Once you’ve figured out a few healthy foods to eat, it’s tempting to just eat them over and over again. But you might miss essential nutrients, and on a psychological level, the boredom alone could lead you to stop eating healthy. So keep your diet varied and interesting.
Exercise can lead to mistakes
First of all, the saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet” is true. Though getting some exercise is always good for you, it can’t be a replacement for eating healthy. At the same time, working out can make you hungry, so you need to be careful not to overeat in your post-workout hunger.
Beware of salad dressing
Salads are a good, easy way to eat healthy, but one of the easiest blunders to make is to cover them in ranch, blue cheese, Caesar, or other dressings that basically cancel out the goodness in them. So stick to low-fat dressings (and check the labels!), or just go for an old-fashioned vinaigrette. Being informed can help you make better decisions and turn healthy eating into a habit, not a chore.
Another thing to watch out for: Vegetable oil
Don’t cook with too much vegetable oil, since it can slow your metabolism, and doesn’t really have much in the way of nutrition. Instead, consider unrefined olive oil or avocado or almond oil. These are healthy alternatives you won’t even notice in your food.
Interested in a career?
As a Nutrition and Food Service manager, you’d be applying knowledge like this to help people that need their nutrition managed. In this career, you will plan, organize and deliver menus to accommodate the needs of patients in the healthcare industry. If Nutrition and Food Service Management sounds like a career you could do on a large scale, Centennial College can connect you to it with its two-year diploma program. It’s the longest program of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area, and has received plenty of awards for how well it can prepare you for your career. Before graduating, you’ll take part in a field placement, practising what you’ve learned in a real workplace to make sure those that should eat right get the healthy nourishment they need.
By Anthony Geremia