Pictured above is a meal my good friend had for dinner the other evening. By the looks of it, I am going to guess the nutrition content of the plastic tray it came packaged in was about equal to the actual contents. This prepackaged, heavily processed Dollar General meal is chock full of calories, fat, sugar, sodium and preservatives and that is about all. You can bet on your health not being at an optimum level when you consume this kind of garbage which sadly, is typical of the Standard American Diet (SAD) now days. Every where we turn, we can find absolute trash being sold as a quick and easy food products, whether it is at the local grocer or convenience store, or at any number of fast food restaraunts across our nation. We are saturated with calorically dense foods that offer us very little in the way of proper nutritional qualities such as we receive from consuming whole natural foods which have not been heavily processed with large amounts of sodium, sugar, fats and preservatives. The Standard American Diet today is energy rich and nutrient poor, which means we are getting very little bang for the buck nutrionally for the amount of empty calories we consume each day. This type of dietary habits, besides sedentary lifestyles, is exactly why we have such an obesity epdemic in America today. Unfortunately, other modern countries are beginning to experience this rapidly growing problem and are not too far behind us.
The basic concept of nutritional density is the amount of nutrients you get for the calories consumed. (1)
Friends, if you want to lose that big round belly and to be able to live a much healthier life, then you must clean up your diet and begin eating with a sincere purpose of providing your body with a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are required to keep your body up to optimum health. Ideally, you want to eat foods that are not heavy with saturated animal fats, added sugars, sodium and preservatives. Avoid processed meals as much as possible, they are horrible for you! You should incorporate fruits and vegetables to your day as well as whole grains, dairy products, fish, lean meats, poultry, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds. Good healthy foods. When you are looking at items in your grocery store, always check the nutrition labels and buy the foods which are richest in protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and dietary fiber. By making a conscious choice to consume nurient dense foods, you will get the beneficial nutrients your body requires without consuming too many calories. In fact, if you are even semi-active and consume whole, healthy foods with zero sugar and no processed foods, you will find it actually quite difficult to eat enough calories in a day to not lose weight if you have an obesity problem. Fact, if you want to lose weight or to stop gaining, choose nutrient rich foods and cut out food and drink which are nothing but empty calories. This works for anyone who gives it an honest effort, no matter who you are.
Here is another consideration as we age, from Harvard Health; Getting enough nutrients through diet is challenging as we age. Our bodies. Our bodies do not absorb nutrients as well as they once did, yet we tend to need fewer calories and eat less. So, it is important to make the most out of the foods we do eat. (2)
When we are young, our poor food choices are about as dangerous to our long term health as smoking. In that the consmption might make you feel good in the moment, while taking years for the ill effects to catch up. Then one day as the lines on our faces have grown deeper and our hair has turned gray, we discover that our poor choices are now bearing down on us, and it is not pretty. We can find our blood pressure has elevated, we might now have type 2 diabetes, and it is likely our blood labs are also mostly out of their normal boundaries for good health. Just consider for a moment if you will, the number of senior citizens who have had to move into nursing homes simply because they have become to obese and weak to get themselves on or off of their commode along with not being able to maintain healthy personal hygiene habits. I can not imagine anyone has ever thought this would be a lifestyle they would envision for themselves as they are snarfing down a 700 calorie Dairy Queen Blizzard.
We need fiber as much as we need vitamins and minerals!
Many high calorie, nutrient poor food products are chock full of unhealthy ingredients, yet are quite low in dietary fiber. When we consume nutrient dense foods, most of which also provide adequate fiber content, we can prevent constipation, stabilize our blood sugar, and lower our cholesterol which are all common problems in older citizens while now also becoming a problem for much younger folks. One word of caution, if you need to add more fiber to your diet, then do so gradually as too much too fast can cause gas, bloating and even constipation if you do not drink plenty of water to keep it all moving through your digestive tract.
Often you will hear people lament they would eat healthier foods if only they were not so expensive compared to the garbage which is largely typical in the Standard American Diet of heavily processed foods which contain large amounts of sugar, fats, sodium and preservatives. While it is true that a healthy nutrient dense food may cost a bit more than a cheap food item, by consuming the healthier choice, you will actually eat less as your body is getting properly nourished. When you eat cheap high calorie, nutrient poor foods you are more prone to get cravings for more as your body needs nutrients it is missing. The next consideration is a poor diet leads to poor health. People who eat poorly are more prone to sickness and chronic health problems than people who have healthy dietary habits. Therefore, even “IF” you did save at the grocery store, with the cost of medical care now days, your savings and then some will be ate up by doctors visits and expensive medications. You can bank on this, in that at some point, poor nutrition choices are going to cost you big.
Make every bite you take count towards being as healthy an individual as you can be.
(2) Harvard Health Publishing