As the clock ticks beyond 2014, the tidal wave of New Year’s resolutions rolls in. Without healthy foundations to support our initial enthusiasm they too will soon wash away. Why not take a new perspective to a new year and create lasting foundations to build a lifetime of successful years ahead.
Nutrition provides the key building blocks in all elements of life, from sports performance, life balance and body shape to general health and disease prevention. Just like a training program, one step follows the next as you build to the finish.
Begin with the bricks of your foundation:
1. IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING
Throw out the idea you need to eat 100 per cent a certain way to be successful. Although many eating ideologies — paleo, vegan, raw, zone, etc. have great background to them, it’s finding a balance with food that will create your solid foundation.
Your body works on the principle of nutrients in and energy out. If you want more energy, eat more nutrient-rich foods. These are real, whole, fresh and, if possible, local. Be conscious of your choices and create a positive relationship with food that is about fuelling your active, energy-filled machine.
2. THINK WHOLE
Mother Nature does a wonderful job with whole food — food that comes in its own packaging, such as a seed, a shell, a husk, skin or peel. The closer you eat to nature, the higher the nutrient content. Whole foods yield more energy, promote better recovery and develop stronger immune support. Here are some easy steps to begin incorporating more whole foods in your diet:
- Replace boxed cereals with steel cut oats or quinoa.
- Instead of juice, eat the fruit and drink water.
- Choose wild rice or a new grain instead of pasta.
- Replace refined sugars with honey, maple syrup or molasses.
- Instead of refined condiments such as ketchup, salad dressings and sauces, add nuts, seeds, herbs and spices to add flavour, texture and colour.
3. PICK PLANT POWER
Plants are the powerhouse of nutrition and the foundation for lasting health. The complexity of nutrients each plant gives us has yet to be fully determined, but we do know the nutrients you get from your fruits, veggies and delicious herbs and spices cannot be synthetically duplicated.
Morning smoothies are a perfect place to get your fruit. Choose nutrient dense berries such as blueberries, goji and açai, brightly coloured superfoods that boost your body and taste amazing.
For veggies, think about colouring your world. Foods that mirror the colours of the rainbow contain disease-fighting antioxidants — so look for food that is green, purple, orange, yellow and red. Keep your veggie intake high during the cooler months by eating hearty meals such as soup, chili and chowder.
Try using herbs and spices (yep, these are plants, too) instead of salt and pepper. Enlighten your senses by adding taste, colour and texture from herbs and spices, most of which have additional health properties. For example, cinnamon balances blood sugar, turmeric (the bright orange herb in Indian food) is an anti-inflammatory, oregano has cold supporting properties. Even the parsley on your plate is great for fresh breath and digestion. The list goes on.
With these three steps your nutrient load can rise and your body will respond strong and energized.