When to Eat and What to Eat

Healthy Eating, Weight Management: When to Eat and What to Eat

By Nurse B

There are no set rules on nutrition, or one size fits all for weight loss. To maintain a healthy diet and reach our health the goals we need to find out what works best for us and use that as a guideline. Sometimes that can be difficult. There are several diets to choose from, each with its own set of controversies. My rule of thumb is to do what makes your body and mind feel good. Now, that does not mean to eat pizza and ice cream every day (although that does sound tempting). It means try not to get stuck on one type of diet, especially if it makes you feel worse.

Balanced meals and snacks are a great way to make lifestyle changes for optimal health. Fruits and vegetables are my favorite because they are nutrient-rich with essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and packed with antioxidants. Evidence shows there are significant health benefits in eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables like reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Exchange empty calories with calories that count. They will help you feel full much longer than a bag of chips. 

To meat or not to meat? Studies have shown that too much red meat is not healthy for our cardiovascular system. If you do choose to eat red meat, do so in moderation and make sure to look for grass-fed. Conventional animals are pumped with hormones and antibiotics. Milk and other dairies should also be grass-fed. If you choose to be vegetarian there are several alternatives to meat that have just as much protein and vitamins like fish, legumes, and almond milk.

Always stay away from processed meat, refined sugar, and flour. They are stripped of their nutrients during processing and hold no nutritional value. We call that empty calories. Try to incorporate brown rice or quinoa into your meals as a healthy alternative.

Meal frequency is person-specific and depends on level of activity, state of one’s health, and nutritional requirements. It is best to wait 3-5 hours in between meals because it is the average time for stomach contents to empty into the small intestine. This will ensure you have a true appetite to eat vs eating out of habit. Never eat a big meal right before bedtime, eat at least 3 hours before you turn in as it can interfere with sleep. Do not work out on an empty stomach. It is best to have some protein pre work out. 

Intermittent fasting is on the rise. Fasting is not advised with some health conditions so be sure to check with your doctor before you start.  When you fast several things can happen on many levels. Our body starts to balance hormones, inflammation markers decrease and it can even make stored fat more accessible. You tend to eat fewer calories and this is why most people tend to lose weight. The two most common types of intermittent fasting are 24 hours (a 24 hour fast once or twice a week) or the 16:8 (16 hours of fasting with an 8 hour window to eat). 

No matter what your health goals are you can not go wrong with eating a rainbow of nutritious foods. There is no time but the present to start making changes for a healthier lifestyle!

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