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Filling vs. Fueling

09/01/2017 06:18PM ● Published by Manda Koolis

As we head into the new school year, our lives change gears and we adopt new patterns and schedules and eventually build new habits for our next season.  Often, the habits we carry with us to the next season are those we have become comfortable with over time.  These habits can help us or hurt us.


Habits involving our nutritional intake border between emotional/psychological and physical.  What do we want to eat to please ourselves versus what does our body need to be nourished?  How do you make your food decisions?  Really, take a second and think about this because your answer to this question can significantly impact your energy levels, relationships and health.


Our bodies need nutrients, both macro (i.e. fats, proteins, carbohydrates, water) and micro (think of all your vitamins and minerals, i.e. things you need in trace amounts).  This is what makes your body go, go, go.  I have found people focus on the macronutrients without thought of the micronutrients. 


I like to think of the macros as the fuel you put in your automobile and the micros as your spark plugs.  If all we do is fill the tank, we never go.  We need the spark plugs to ignite the fuel to utilize it and make the engine go vroom!  The opposite is having great spark plugs but junk or little fuel, as in we consume vitamins and supplements but forget to feed our bodies quality fuel.


As more and more “fast-food” restaurants open up, we can see they are filing the need of food with convenience.  Convenience is something we all seek in our harried, over-scheduled lives.  Often fast-food restaurants, however they are masqueraded, allow us to “check the box” that we have fed ourselves.  Unfortunately, convenience comes at a cost.  We become overfed and undernourished.  Too many calories are underutilized because of a lack of movement and lack of ability to utilize the fuel taken in because it won’t burn.


The more nutritious fuel we consume, the easier and healthier our bodies are able to function.  The easier and healthier our bodies function, the better we are prepared to handle the stressors, either physical or emotional or psychological.  Our body will not be fighting for energy because the fueling part has been taken care of.  (Do not forget to get adequate rest!) 


After almost 30 years of reading diet books and watching the research come across my desk, a few things have held true throughout time:


• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables:  As a matter of fact, I have not met someone who has overeaten in this category.  A large percentage of people eat about 1/4 to 1/2 of what they should be consuming in this category.


• Lean meats:  For most people this will translate to chicken or fish with a periodic visit to the beef section for a lean steak.  I have talked with a couple heart doctors who recommend the fewer number of legs, the better.


• When it comes to carbohydrates, the jury is out and the arguments for varying levels seems to be a current topic.  I recommend staying as much as possible away from “processed” carbs like sugary foods, pastas, french fries, etc. and more towards things such as sweet potatoes and quinoa.


Jack LaLane, a man of amazing wisdom and feats well into his later years (he passed away at 95), said, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”  I have found in my life and lives of my clients, the closer we have eaten in obedience to this basic statement, the better we have been.


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