It’s time to ask yourself: What is missing from my diet? Being healthy is not just about removing the bad stuff. It’s about getting the nutrients you need for your body to work as it is meant to.
What’s missing from your diet? It might surprise you that despite all the food and choices available, that anyone could possibly be missing anything from their diet. However, modern day food doesn’t always deliver the benefits it promises.
Once upon a time, people just–ate–food. They ate what was available, in season, or that they grew or raised. Ah for simple times! Today, the choices are unlimited. If you can’t find it at your local super store, it can be delivered right to your front door. Yet, even with all this abundance of food, many of us are missing some important things in our diets.
Here are five things to consider.
Instead of trying to cut fat, it’s a good idea to add healthy fats into your meals. First of all, learn what healthy fats are and why you need them. Healthy fats are really good for you and are essential to the proper functioning of your body.
This is probably the most difficult thing for people to believe because the low-fat propaganda has been strong since the 70’s. But here’s the thing. They only thing that has resulted from removing healthy fats from our diets is a population that is fatter and sicker than ever!
In fact, despite feeding our kids low fat yogurt, milk, cheese, breads, and pastas they are getting heavier and suffering health problems.
But fat itself is not the problem You and your children need fat. However, not the the fat from fast food chicken nuggets, or pizza but the fat that comes from good sources.
Everyone needs healthy fats for the best functioning of their body. Fat is not the enemy! And fat is not what is making you fat. If you want to know more about the benefits of healthy fats, check out this post.
Intervals Between Meals
Eating around the clock has health consequences. Your body needs time between meals not just for digestion but for the metabolic processes. This is a little controversial because there are so many experts telling people to snack between meals. I fall into the don’t snack camp and it’s mainly because I believe that our bodies do best with breaks between meals.
For me, two of the huge changes I made in the way I eat, were to quit snacking and eating heavy in the evening. I make all my food count by avoiding empty calories and eating nutritionally dense foods at three meals. I’m careful to eat a wide variety of food and to eat enough that I don’t get hungry or succumb to cravings.
One of the reasons that people snack so much is that they are eating foods that provide quick bursts of energy that don’t nourish and then leave you hungry and craving more. And oddly, many common snacks do the same thing. That cup of no fat yogurt or breakfast bar, while only having 150 calories, can still raise your insulin, which prevents fat from being metabolized. You want your body to have a chance to use fat as an energy source and it gets that chance when you don’t eat every couple of hours.
I’m not bashing being a vegetarian. I was one for seven years and I do understand the desire to not eat an animal for a food source. However, I do disagree with the idea that being a vegetarian or vegan is inherently healthier than being a meat eater.
This is addressed to meat eaters though. Along with low fat eating, eating only certain parts of certain animals is considered healthy by many people. You rarely hear meat recommended unless someone uses the word “lean” in front of it. Beef is okay, as long as it’s “lean.” I disagree. The problem with meat is how we eat it these days, with buns, breaded, or along side questionable side dishes.
If you are a person who does eat meat, consider eating cuts of meat that you haven’t tried before or that are a little fattier. Buy the best quality you can, eat enough to fuel yourself, and try not to waste. Only cook what you are going to use.
The idea that only a very few parts of animals are okay to eat has resulted in more animal deaths and waste. If the majority of people are only eating certain parts of an animal, then more animals have to be killed to provide that. One of the good things to develop recently is the head-to-tale movement. Instead of just eating breasts or tenderloins, advocates suggest eating most of the animal.
What is Missing from my Diet? Complex Carbohydrates
I was at dinner with a friend last night and I ordered a baked potato with my chicken. He eyed it enviously but wouldn’t order one himself. This might surprise some people but I have to have some starchy carbohydrates with every meal. I like to get mine in the form of potatoes (white and sweet), winter squash, plantains, bananas, beets, and carrots.
Like many people, I tried the Adkins diet and low carb eating. I didn’t like how I felt and didn’t stick with that long. However, when I did low carb in general but added in things like potatoes and winter squashes it was a very different feeling.
I discovered this while doing my Whole 30. There were days I felt better than others. Because I was keeping a journal, I realized that by eating even ¼ of a sweet potato with a meal, I felt significantly better than when I ate just lower glycemic vegetables. I still consider the sweet potato to be one of the most important foods in my diet. That is one vegetable I always have on hand!
What’s Missing from my Diet? Attention to Your Hormones
Keeping your hormones happy is important in maintaining a healthy body weight. I’m talking about insulin, leptin, and glucagon. These are three hormones that work hard to keep your body fueled.
When we feel overweight, we cut calories or exercise hard in an effort to force our body to behave. Sometimes that works in the short term to lose a few pounds. But it doesn’t affect the underlying issues. Our bodies are a complex system. While we often think it’s just calories and effort, there is also an entire hormone system at work in keeping all of our systems running efficiently.
One of the best things you can do for your body, is to pay attention to your hormones and eat in a way that encourages them to do what they need to do. Your body was made to burn fat and would love to have the option to do that. However by overeating sugar and foods that act like sugar as well as eating too often, your body learns to only use the quick-burn available carbohydrates in your blood. And when there is too much of that, it is forced to store the excess in your cells.
What’s Missing from Your Diet?
These are five things that I see most people missing from their diets. In fact, these things were missing from my own diet for years. I know at the beginning it can be scary to eat enough food and fat to not get hungry until the next meal. Believe me, I also understand the psychological barriers to giving up things like bread and pasta and eating in a way that supports the activity of my hormones.
As difficult as these changes seem, they are some of the most important things you can do for your health. While, I do talk about this in terms of weight and weight management, it really is about your overall health. Being thin doesn’t mean healthy, just as being a little heavier than you’d like doesn’t mean you are unhealthy. But the scary thing is that the things that ultimately will age you and cause disease are happening, incrementally inside of you. Maybe it won’t show up for several years but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
As always, I encourage you to learn about food and nutrition and make your own decisions. We are all a little different and what is right for me, may not be 100% right for you. But the misinformation put out by the media and even doctors can be very damaging to you and your long-term health.
It took me a long time to get to a place where I was comfortable with my body and my eating. It was only then, that change happened. It’s a process for sure! Much love to all of you on your journey.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.
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