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Nutritional Common Sense

July 1, 2014 1 Comment

downloadPhilosopher Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.” While that could be true in most aspects of life, it is certainly accurate when it comes to healthy nutrition. Eat right and exercise is the common sense response you will get asking a neighbor or from listening to the morning talk shows to the million dollar question of what is the best way to get into shape and lose weight. Yet if the majority of people knew that to be true, why is there such an alarmingly high incidence of obesity in this country? Could it be that we just don’t eat right? Could it be that we just don’t exercise enough? Is it a combination of both? These questions pose interesting points to ponder; points that can not be easily answered in one word answers or explanations. However, the answers to these questions can be traced back to the source of the evil, and that evil is misinformation and confusion.  And nothing can cause more confusion than what does it exactly mean to eat right.

A Platter of Disaster

Each year, a new diet book debuts on The New York Times Best Sellers list that either completely contradicts the other diet books already on the infamous list, or simply adds to the confusion. One book preaches the “evil” of carbohydrate consumption; another one cites the necessity of eating foods in certain combinations; one talks about eating like caveman did; yet another claims that all one needs for optimal health is to eat a particular food item. What is one to do and who are you to believe?  If you kept track of everything you ever heard you were not supposed to eat, you would be left with nothing at all.  While so many people say they need to eat right, the truth is they really have no idea where to begin.  An understanding of nutrition fundamentals, not folklore, and a little common survival sense should clear some of that confusion.

In the Beginning

First, understand that at the cellular level, biochemically all humans are relatively the same.  That being said, what fundamentally affects one of us at the cellular level will most likely affect all of us.  There are only three sources of energy that our bodies can ingest.  They are collectively called macronutrients, better known as protein, carbohydrate, and fat.  Our bodies need all three sources of energy, so eliminating or drastically decreasing intake of any one of then with no consideration for what the effects and potential consequences are is like playing Russian roulette with your health.  Sure, you may see some immediate satisfaction, but chances are sooner or later it‘s all going to blow up in your face. It’s not as simple as eat this, not that, and there is no magical combination of foods that is going to yield a desired result.

Stop With The Dieting

Want to eat better and start feeling great – stop dieting! Looking closer at the root of the word “diet” and you will see the word d-i-e – die. To DIEt guarantees failure and not always in the short run, which is where too many of us have our focus.  If you still believe you must diet, ask yourself these questions: Is the diet realistic? Is the diet maintainable? Is the diet palatable? Is the diet livable? If you answered “No” to any of those questions, stop while you are ahead.  Learn to love and appreciate real food and make it a larger portion of your calorie intake as opposed to fast, packaged, and highly and deceivingly marketed processed food.

Keep It Real

What constitutes real food? Basically, any consumable that is as close to its original biological make up as possible: meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, fruits, vegetables, unrefined sugars and starches, and water.  A movement known as “eating clean” has gained some popularity but here’s no objective definition of what that means. Packaged and processed food, even those labeled or perceived as healthy, are deceptive. Reading labels and recognizing more than just the calories but the ingredients will make you question a lot of what you put into your body.  It is however not always just about what you eat, but how much you eat.  Portion distortion is what the “experts” have named the typical American plate.  Our perception and the reality of meal portion sizes are vastly different.

Eating is a necessary and vital human function. Why it has become so gray and diluted is because people are always ready to make a buck at your expense. When it comes down to it, nutritional common sense comes down more to the two old axioms “You are what you eat”, and “You get out only what you put in.”  And that is all the nutritional common sense you will ever need.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

Comments (1)

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  1. Dan A. says:

    What would be helpful to me and likely others, would be an actual 5 or 7 day menu of common, normal realistic meals/snack that a person might eat. Including a few fast-food or diner stops. I eat over half of my meals out side the home. Thanks so much for all the great info you give us!

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