Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @yungmiami305
To anyone reading these words, I’d like to say that I’m no nutritionist, no physician and everything you read you should absorb knowing these very important facts.
What I am however, is a very interested individual that grew up in Lisbon, Portugal with a mum that always taught me to use the medical system for my benefit. So, I’ve done my research, taken third and fourth opinions and seen a lot. We’ve always been the family that does the check-up ahead of the check-up, the family that has the doctor’s personal number on our phone and the family that through our link to Brazil (which is the holy grail for everything fitness and wellness) has always been interested in taking care of our bodies.
We’re also an African family that still lives in Africa and as such, is accustomed to cooking and using things like palm oil. But you know, balance, always!
So, I can wholeheartedly and honestly say I’m a great example of someone that has had to and continuously has to do a lot of work and research around my relationship with food and what it represents in my life both culturally and socially.
And I start there because of this simple shift in how we view our nutrition.
What we put into our bodies, what we eat and drink is directly connected to our health and wellbeing and that’s how we should view it, treat it and exercise it. Of course, like all of the things we have been talking about, society and ‘evolution’ has shifted our view of nutrition from something we need to survive to a key component in how we live, feel and interact. We connect with family and friends over food, soothe ourselves emotionally with it and for a great majority, see it as the enemy or a tool. But nutrition and its benefits go beyond losing weight, gaining weight or being social with the ones around us.
A balanced diet and good nutrition can reduce the risk of heart diseases, reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, improve our wellbeing, our immune systems and directly affect our energy levels (just to name a few!). No matter if you’re vegan, pescatarian, flexitarian or veggie, there are a few things we all should be conscious and aware of if we want to keep a healthy body, healthy weight and healthy lifestyle.
PROTEIN is key
How ironic is it, that protein is the common denominator in losing weight, gaining weight and maintaining weight. Of course, the amounts are variable and will depend on your body and all the uniqueness that is you and what you’re focused on. But what’s the same is that your intake of protein is the focus. Did you know that protein helps our body repair and make new cells? It also helps to reduce muscle loss, builds lean muscle and aids in maintaining a healthy weight as it takes longer to digest than carbs. Keeping you fuller for longer.
VEGETABLES and FRUITS are a gift
These are one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals and yet they get a bad rep. A lot of us, dare I say, had a ‘NOPE’ vegetable or fruit experience at some point that led us to view the whole group as a tricky one. We also started making vegetables and fruit not as sexy and appetising as so many other types of foods. Alongside the many health benefits that we get by eating vegetables and fruits we also get: fibre. Of course, some are higher in fibre than others but fibre is absolutely essential in helping our body regulate its use of sugar which in turn keeps our hunger and blood sugar in check.
Everybody’s body will react differently to the number of calories they intake depending on their lifestyle. However, according to the NHS ‘When we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies store the excess as body fat. If this continues, over time we may put on weight’.
So, what we need to know is this, we have to be mindful of eating and drinking the calories that we’re going to use up in a day to maintain a healthy weight.
BALANCE is the way forward
…and carbs are not our enemy, they are our main source of energy and much needed. However, and like everything else they should be consumed according to what your needs and specificities are adjusted to your lifestyle. Nothing should be excluded from your diet and you should be conscious about how you’re approaching your nutrition.
Be mindful of what you put in your body. Figure out your relationship with food and use it for what it is: nutrition.