YOU ARE YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Movement, Motivation and Mindset for Active Seniors

Energy Bite 222 – Are You What You Eat?

“They” say, “we are what we eat”. That’s easy to say but it begs the questions of what, how much, and how it’s prepared.

I am taking a Nutrition Course as part of the process of renewing my Personal Trainer Certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). The course includes a lot of food chemistry and chemical formulas which I barely understand, and will most likely forget after I complete the final exam. But most of the basic content is quite useful.

The content pretty much follows the most recent Dietary Guidelines for food and nutrition as set forth by The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Health & Human Services, and incorporated into what used to be the “Food Pyramid” and now redesigned and redesignated as “MyPlate”. You can find more information here.

It makes me realize just how much misinformation about food we are pounded with in the electronic media, print magazines, bookstores, and online on a daily basis. There are more diet books on the bookshelves today than ever. Many say the same thing. Others are radically different. I won’t name them all, there are as many different names for diets as there are food varieties. They all cite major “studies” that “prove” their way is correct.

As homo sapiens, our “diet” includes varieties of meats, vegetables, grains, fruits, dairy and other edibles (and not so edible) which include protein, carbohydrates (including sugars), fats, vitamins and minerals. It’s the proportions of these various nutrients that seem to make up all the controversy over “diet”.

Some “diets” emphasize a high carbohydrate structure, while other promote low carb and high protein. Several years ago, a very low fat diet was big. Soon we discovered that very low fat diets caused dry skin and hair, and problems fueling some of our internal organs. Some fats in the diet are necessary. There are solid fats (lard, butter, etc.) and liquid fats (oils). Some solid fats are treated to become more liquid and some liquid fats are treated to become more solid (some butter substitutes for example). There are Omega 3s, 6s, and 9s (depending on whether the “first double bond starting from the methyl end of the molecule lies after the 3rd, 6th, or 9th carbon atom.” — be sure and remember that when you buy your next piece of Salmon)  — Insel, Paul, Nutrition, 5th Ed.

Some people choose to eat a vegetarian or meatless diet, and others choose a completely raw, plant based diet. Some eat eggs and dairy and others don’t. Some eliminate meat for humanitarian reasons and others eliminate meat because they believe meat is bad for you.

All “diets” are likely to change your body composition, and since 75 to 85% of body composition is a result of what you eat, it’s easy to understand why people are willing to accept the claims of so many different commercial and fad diets to achieve weight loss or weight gain. Exercise plays a major role, but is not the most important factor in your body composition.

For the most part, the science of food and nutrition is pretty basic. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, cut back on sugars and solid fats, and don’t stuff yourself. And while the science is still out, and there are a lot of arguments and studies in all directions, the “MyPlate” model that is promoted by the FDA and HHS is probably filled with the best nutrients in the best proportions for good health and personal energy as any of the many fad diets we see promoted everywhere we look. And that’s the moral of this story.

I’ve said so many times on these pages that I lost 30 pounds fairly consistently over a number of months by simply upping the fruits and veggies, cutting back slightly on eating meat, and cutting way back on sugar; pretty much following the MyPlate model. I still like a good steak; just not as large nor as often. It worked for me.

Thank you for reading.


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