Nutrition is one of the key aspects of health, and maintaining peak health should be one of your key goals. In this article, we’ll discuss how JB tracks nutrition, and how he focuses on keeping it a top priority. If you focus on eating good food, it will help you achieve the rest of your goals in life.
Health is Our Number 1 Priority
If we want more success in life, we have to make health our first priority. We want to improve our quality of life, and we want to have the energy and vitality to enjoy life!
The food that we eat has a huge impact on our health. This idea was first taught by Hippocrates, who is considered to be the father of modern medicine. Hippocrates, who was born in 460 BC, in ancient Greece, said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
JB feeds his dog, Neo, a mostly high quality raw food diet. Science has shown that many of the diseases that modern dogs get come from their diet. Dogs evolved eating raw meat. Most dog kibble is made with grain, rather than meat. The saying in dog nutrition field is “You’re going to pay for it now, or pay for it later.” If we don’t feed our dogs good raw food on a regular basis, we’re probably going to end up with expensive vet bills.
Pay for It Now
So this is also true for people. We want to “pay for it now” by eating high quality nutrition. We want to keep our quality of life good. Of course, genetics plays a role. Some people seem to be pre-disposed to live longer than others. But we want to hedge our bets with good nutrition.
How do we do this? We need to understand nutrition and nutrition systems. Nothing too complicated, but we do need to understand the three basic building blocks of good nutrition: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
There’s not too much controversy about protein. We can get protein from animal sources or from combining plant sources. Protein provides important elements and amino acids that our bodies need to thrive and build muscle and strong, healthy bones. Not enough protein in our diet leads to a multitude of health problems.
Next there’s fat and carbohydrates. These provide energy, which is measured in calories. Fat can come from animal or plant sources. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrates come from plant sources, and a gram of carbohydrate provides 4 grams of energy. Sugar, in all of it’s forms, is a primary source of dietary carbohydrate in our society today.
New scientific studies have disproven the idea that “fat makes you fat.” In fact, we now know that too many carbohydrates makes us fat. Our modern high carbohydrate diet leads to many of our modern diseases – obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, etc.
Our bodies manufacture fat from excess carbohydrates. If we have more carbs “on board” than we can burn, then our body stores the extra energy as fat. This is a well known and scientifically studied physical process.
This means that we need to understand how many carbohydrates we eat in a day. A great basic goal is to eat a little less that 100 grams of carbs a day. If we can reduce our daily intake of carbs below 50 grams of carbs a day, we begin to burn the fat we have stored in our body.
Our body operates like a car that uses two fuel sources – a hybrid. When we are eating mostly carbohydrates, our body burns carbs. But when we reduce our carbs below 50 per day, the body switches over to ketosis, or fat burning mode. Unlike a car, this switch to ketosis can take a few days. We can feel a little off while our body switches into fat burning mode.
However, we soon start to feel better once we begin to use our stored fat as fuel. Remember, fat provides 9 calories of energy per gram. We actually can feel more energetic when we are in ketosis. Since it takes several days to achieve ketosis after binging on carbs, a consistent low-carb diet is the only way to achieve and stay in ketosis.
How we react to the foods that we eat is very individual. So in the beginning, a tracking system like a simple food diary is very important. Just write down what you eat, and then keep track of your mood afterwards. Did it give you energy at first, but make you feel tired later? Do you feel more grumpy after eating it? Or, does the food make you feel like you can take on the world?
Paying attention to how we feel is the best way to figure out what food our body really thrives on. Foods can have an obvious physical impact, but they can also effect our moods and emotions. Because our diets are so widely varied, we may want to try an elimination diet, eating just a few basic foods, for a few weeks to eliminate foods that many people are allergic to.
Then as we add foods back into our diet, we want to notice how we feel after we eat them. Foods can effect us even 24 hours after eating them, so a simple elimination diet is the best way to discover foods that might be causing problems for you, personally.
Of course, before making a major change in the way that you eat, you’ll want to consult with your physician or a qualified nutritionist.
Eat Real Food
Since we know that animals thrive when they eat real food, we want to strive to do the same thing. Please do some basic research for yourself and learn about the foods that you eat regularly. You want to know several things about your foods. How many carbohydrates per serving they provide, what other nutrients you can get from the food, and if any sugar in any form has been added to the food. Take the time to read the labels!
Better yet, avoid foods with labels! In general, if you shop at the edges of the grocery store, you will be buying real food. Fresh vegetables and fruit and high quality meat is the foundation of a great diet.
As much as possible, avoid the middle of the store… those items are generally highly processed, and often contain extra sugar to make them taste better. Avoid products that are labeled low fat, or no fat. When naturally occurring fat is removed from a food, it doesn’t taste as good, so the manufacturers usually add sugar to the food to improve the taste.
Some studies about Alzheimers are starting to hypothesize that in order to maximize our brain health, we may need to include more healthy fats in our diets. This is a relatively new finding, but worth considering as we choose our foods.
Find what works for you
You have to find what works for you. Everyone seems to react to foods in a slightly different way. This can be challenging, because often a food group, like dairy or grain, will be promoted as a “great addition to a healthy diet”. But, it may not be a great addition you YOUR healthy diet!
If we have an engine that needs a special mix of fuel, we want to put the right fuel mix into that engine. That way the engine will work well for a long time. If we use the wrong fuel mix, then the engine won’t work right and it might even be damaged. It may break down and wear out much sooner that if we had used the right fuel.
Even your car will run better and last longer on the premium grade of gasoline than on the regular grade. It may not seem like a big difference at first, but a great mechanic can listen to the engine and tell you the type of fuel you’ve been using. The quality of the fuel makes a big difference!
We want to put the right fuel mix into OUR physical engine, to maximize our performance and our durability!
Other Systems for Health
Since we are working so hard to eat right, we want to be sure to measure the results! Get your blood work done on a regular basis. Understand where your cholesterol is. Understand your hormone levels. Get a blood pressure cuff and take the time to measure your blood pressure on a regular basis.
If you are overweight, buy an inexpensive blood glucose monitor, and test your blood glucose on a daily basis. High blood sugar is the result of eating more carbs that your body can process. The health impacts of high blood sugar are huge and well documented!
It is easier than ever to know if your blood sugar is too high! Simply reducing carbohydrate intake so that your fasting blood sugar is around 83 will provide huge health benefits. The cost of the blood glucose monitor and testing strips is tiny compared to the increased health benefits that come when you know what is happening in your body.
Remember, pay now or pay later! The costs involved with measuring and tracking your health are far less than the costs involved in a major medical crisis. The cost of learning about the foods that you eat is minimal compared to the benefit of vibrant health and abundant energy that you can get when you eat right for your body.
What about Supplements?
Consider vitamin and or mineral supplements, as well. It can be very difficult to get the right balance of vital nutrition from your diet. Again, study the topic, talk to your health care practitioner, and use the supplements that work for you.
What about Travel Food?
It’s easier than ever to make healthy choices when you travel. Even at most fast food restaurants, you can get a great salad with some meat on it. Avoid the soda, avoid the french fries and other high carbohydrate foods. You can eat right even when on the road.
Plan ahead for flying. Pack some healthy snacks that you can eat on the plane if you don’t have time to grab a good meal on a layover. You might also carry a nutritional powder that you can add to milk or water. A little bit of pre-trip planning will help you stay on track with healthy eating.
Take Responsibility for You
Remember that nobody loves you like you do. Don’t wait for your doctor to suggest that you should change your diet. Don’t wait for your family to give up a food that is bothering you personally. Take responsibility for what you choose to eat, and figure out if you might feel better by making some different food choices.
You can ask your family to support your dietary changes, but make up your mind to stay the course even if a problem food is regularly in your house. You have the power to make a plan for eating that is right for you. It time, if you are consistent, your family will accept your new way of eating as long as you don’t try to force them to change. No one can “make you” eat anything. You’re in control of you.
If you want a better quality of life, that is within your control. Be sure to work with a doctor or nutritionist. Be sure to track your results. Be scientific and curious. If you have trouble giving up “comfort foods”, make a plan of action for a new behavior when that food craving fits. Get some counseling if necessary, or join a group that is working on giving up the same type of food, or staying on the same diet. You’ll have greater success when you have the emotional group of a group or mastermind!