Let’s change the way we think of eating. Most of our lives we’ve thought of eating as something to do when we get hungry, but let’s instead think of food as something that will nourish our bodies and keep them healthy and vital. Food is the way we provide our bodies with the fuel it needs to conduct our everyday activities. Within food are components that our bodies use to generate energy, to grow and repair, and to fight off invaders like toxins.
The energy food provides is in the structure of macronutrients, which are combined in an endless variety of ways to make up the food we eat. These 3-calorie contributing macronutrients are protein, carbohydrate and fat. Energy that food provides is measured in calories. If we eat more calories than we need, the energy is then stored as fat.
- Protein is essential and we cannot make it ourselves, therefore we must consume it. We need protein for growth and repair of body tissues.
- Carbohydrates provide a readily available source of fuel. Carbohydrate is part of many foods.
Most foods are a mixture of all 3 macronutrients
It’s helpful to know what the major macronutrients are in the foods that we eat. We want to balance the levels of the macronutrients in our daily meals. In general, here are the food groups and the kinds of macronutrients they are made up of:
- Fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta and rice are mostly carbohydrate
- Dairy foods, chicken, beef, and fish are good protein sources with widely varying amounts of fat
- Beans have protein and carbohydrate and very little fat
- Oil and butter are pure/good fat
In the 70’s the lipid theory became popular, basically stating that fat is what makes us fat. Fat was taken from food and replaced with sugar, which is a simple carbohydrate. Skim milk was chosen over whole milk and processed foods have taken over. Now, more than ever we have chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease on the rampage. The lipid theory is only that, a theory, we need to get back to the basics and learn how to balance the all the macronutrients.
Start with dinner…choose a protein source, then choose a good quality carbohydrate food such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and don’t be afraid to add a little fat, good fat that is! An example might be grilled chicken, rice, and broccoli with butter salt and pepper. Start slow, be conscious and expand your food choices.
Next week: Eating, Exercise, Energy and Metabolism Part 2, let’s talk about metabolism