THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF GREAT NUTRITION
BY PAMELA M. SMITH R.D.
Many people say it’s impossible to eat well in today’s junk-food world. The challenge, though daunting, is not as complicated as you’d think. My “Ten Commandments of Great Nutrition” emphasize what you should eat (rather than what to avoid), when you should eat, and why you should be eating certain foods. Remember, you don’t need to learn how to diet; you need to learn how to eat!
COMMANDMENT 1 – Thou shalt never skip breakfast.
Think of your body as a campfire that dies down during the night. If it isn’t stoked up with wood in the morning, the spark turns to ash. There’s nothing left.
Your body awakens in a slowed-down state. If you don’t eat breakfast to meet the body’s demand for energy and boost the metabolic system, the body turns to its own muscle mass (not fat!) for energy and slows down even more, conserving itself for a potentially long, starved state. Then when the evening gorge begins, most of that food will be stored as fat because the body isn’t burning energy at a fast rate; the fire has gone out. The food you eat then is like dumping an armload of firewood on a dead fire.
COMMANDMENT II – Thou shalt eat every three to four hours and have a healthy snack handy.
Once you’ve begun your day with breakfast, the goal is to keep the system working for you. To prevent your blood-sugar level from dropping and to keep your metabolic rate high, you need food distributed evenly throughout the day. The blood sugar will normally crest and fall every three to four hours. As it begins to fall, so will your energy, along with your mood, your concentration and your ability to handle stress. Going many hours between meals causes the body to slow down metabolically.
That means the next meal (healthy or not) will be perceived as overload; the nutrients will not be used optimally, and the lowered blood sugar will leave you sleepy and craving sweets. When you eat frequent, small meals, your body has a chance to metabolize those calories efficiently, burning them for energy instead of storing them as fat. Several small meals a day deposit less fat than one or two large meals. You must keep your body fed with the right things at the right time to metabolize calories efficiently.
COMMANDMENT III – Thou shalt always eat a carbohydrate with a protein.
Eating evenly throughout the day is not the only important factor in keeping your metabolism burning high and your body working well. Every meal (and snack) should include both carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates – all fruits, fruit juices and non-starchy vegetables – are 100 percent pure energy and fuel for the body to burn.
Proteins (meats and dairy products) are the building blocks for the body; but if no carbohydrates are available, the body will burn proteins. Eat a carbohydrate with a protein to protect it from being wasted as a less efficient fuel source.
You need that protein for vital building functions: boosting the metabolism; building body muscle; keeping body fluids in balance; healing and fighting infection; and making beautiful skin, hair and nails. But protein is so potent that you don’t need much of it.
Around six ounces of chicken provides all the protein you need in an entire day.
COMMANDMENT IV – Thou shalt double thy fiber.
Grandma used to say, “Eat your roughage. “Now we are counseled to double our fiber. This can be done with wholesome foods prepared in a wholesome way – whole-grain breads and cereals, unprocessed oat and wheat bran, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables.
To increase your fiber intake:
** Use whole grains rather than the white, refined types. When purchasing, look for labels such as 100 percent whole wheat, with the word “whole’ first in the ingredient list.
** Eat vegetables and fruits with well-washed skins. Peel only those that have been waxed – Choose more raw or lightly cooked vegetables in as non-processed a form as possible. As vegetables are ground, mashed, pureed or juiced, the fiber effectiveness decreases.
** Add a variety of legumes to your diet.
** Add unprocessed bran to your foods. Try eating it as a hot cereal, sprinkling it uncooked on your dry cereal, or making homemade bran muffins.
COMMANDMENT V – Thou shalt trim the fat from thy diet.
Fat is a nutrient that the body needs in very limited amounts for lubrication and for transporting fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E andK). But when eaten in excess, fat:
** Increases your cholesterol level and your risk of heart disease and stroke.
** Increases your risk of cancer, particularly of the colon and breast.
** Increases your risk of gall bladder disease – Elevates blood pressure, regardless of weight.
** And makes you fat!
As much as we need to eat carbohydrates and proteins at each meal, we don’t need fat in the quantities we consume. One ounce of fat supplies twice the number of calories as one ounce of carbohydrate or protein, and research shows that fats in food are stored as fat on the body more readily than carbohydrates or proteins. Less fat in your diet means less fat on your body and less cholesterol in your blood.
COMMANDMENT VI – Thou shalt believe thy mother was right: Eat thyvegetables.
Vegetables and fruits are simple carbohydrates that provide a storehouse of vitamins, minerals and other substances to protect a disease. They are also valuable no-fat, no-cholesterol sources of fiber and fluid. Generally the more vivid the fruit or vegetable’s color, the more essential nutrients it holds. That deep orange or red coloring in carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches and strawberries signals their Vitamin A content. Dark green leafy vegetables such as greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts and broccoli are loaded with Vitamin A as well as folic acid. Vitamin C is found in more than just citrus; it is also power-packed into strawberries, cantaloupes, tomatoes, green peppers and broccoli. If they’re loaded with color, they’re loaded with nutrition!
COMMANDMENT VII – Thou shalt get vitamins and minerals from food, not pills.
Can good nutrition be put into a capsule? No! Do you need to take vitamin-mineral supplements? It depends on your lifestyle choices. Do you skip breakfast? Lunch, too, sometimes? Do you travel a lot? Eat out frequently? Drink alcohol? Have a high-stress career or home life? Drink coffee?
If you answered yes to many of these questions, your nutritional state is at high risk! If you were to continue this course, you would benefit from supplemental vitamins and minerals. However, supplements are not the only answer. You can remedy the situation by subtly rearranging your life to include balanced, wholesome meals and snacks at regular intervals each day. Just learn what to grab and when to grab it!
COMMANDMENT VIII – Thou shalt drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Increasing one’s water intake to meet the body’s needs can produce miraculous results. However, most people grew up drinking just about anything but water!
Water makes up 92 percent of our blood plasma, 80 percent of our muscle mass, 60 percent of our red blood cells and 50 percent of everything else in our bodies. What an important ingredient to good health!Although often ignored, water is as essential a nutrient as the other five: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. We can survive many days, even months, without food. But we can survive only three to five days without water.
How much water do you need? Eight to 10 glasses each day. As you begin to meet this need by drinking more water, your natural thirst for it will increase. As you learn what water does for your body, your motivations for drinking it will grow. Drinking water is habit-forming; the more you drink, the more you want!
COMMANDMENT IX – Thou shalt consume a minimum of sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol.
Called by many names-honey, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose – sugar is sugar! It causes dental cavities, obesity and high tri-glycerides; it wreaks havoc with diabetes and hypoglycemia. Cut back on your daily use of sugar and eat fruit to satisfy your natural craving for a sweet taste. Sugar abuse is not worth robbing yourself of precious energy and stamina.
As for salt, most people consume five to 25 times more than they need, leading to hypertension and kidney disease. Caffeine, a relatively mild stimulant, promotes irritability, anxiety and mood disturbances. As for alcohol, one of the most common and addictive drugs of our time, much medical research is implicating excess alcohol as a factor in many killer diseases.
COMMANDMENT X – Thou shalt never go on a fad diet.
Why is it so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it? Why is it so hard to keep weight off. The solution begins with an acknowledgement: Weight is not the problem, it is only the symptom. Ones eating patterns and perspectives about food are the problem. We eat, not to meet our bodies’ physical needs for nourishment, but for other reasons, often emotional. Freedom comes only in dealing with the problem, not the symptoms.
I consider the word ‘diet’ to be a nasty four-letter word. It speaks defeat and depression and denotes temporary action! We go on diets only to go off them. Diets don’t work; they modify behavior only temporarily.
Its time to break the diet mentality with a nutrition consciousness that works for life. You can feel better, have abundant energy from morning till night, and look more radiant and healthy. Now that you have a new plan of eating and the knowledge to undergird it, you never need to diet again!
How to determine Your Daily Caloric Needs
If you are female, multiply your ideal weight by 11. If you are moderately active, multiply your ideal weight by 13. If you are very active, multiply your weight by 15. If you are male, multiply your ideal weight by 12. If moderately active, by 15. If very active, by 20.
The total will be the approximate number of calories you need to maintain your weight. To lose one pound a week, you must lower your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. Example – You are a woman weighing 125 pounds and moderately active. Multiplying your weight by 13 gives you a daily caloric need of 1,625. To lose one pound a week, you need to take in 1,125 calories each day.
Pamela M. Smith, R.D., is a nationally known nutritionist, author, and culinary consultant. She has appeared on “The Today Show,” “CNN News,” and “The 700 Club.” This article is adapted from her latest book: “Eat Well – Live Well.” (Creation House).
The above article is from FOCUS ON THE FAMILY magazine, May, 1993. p. 10 – 11.
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