Some people eat for health, some for weight loss, some for performance, some for religion and/or ethics, some out of convenience and price and some for body composition. Then there are those who eat for a combination of reasons. Primarily, I believe that both health and performance/fitness should be the driving forces for choosing the foods that we choose to put into our body. For if you are providing your body with a variety of nutrients to support optimal health and reduce risk for disease, it is likely that your performance will improve because metabolic processes will be supported by a good balance of vitamins and minerals. If you are energized by efficient metabolism, you will likely be able to take your training to the next level (or fitness routine) and thus, body composition changes will become evident. Ultimately, when you find that right balance between diet and exercise, your body will become an efficient machine.
With so many rules as to when you can eat and how much, sometimes the easiest way to adopt more heart-healthy habits is to prioritize health over body composition. For some, don't worry - the weight will come off if you aspire to reach a healthy weight. For others, those who seek body composition changes for performance, perhaps it is most important that your training and recovery routine allows for consistent training to increase lean muscle mass and an efficient use of fuels prior to wanting to change everything in your diet. But when eating for health, you will find yourself wanting to gravitate toward more whole, quality foods packed with nutrition, rather than becoming obsessed with calories, grams and percentages....oh, and all that "bad" food that everyone is telling you not to eat. Bad food? Not in my food vocabulary.
To tell a person that they can only have 2 snacks a day and can not eat past 7:30pm would be silly if that person was seeking fruits and veggies for snacks. However, if the 2nd afternoon snack was a candy bar and the 9pm snack was a bowl of ice cream or bag of chips, more often than not it will be more beneficial to a person to make heart-healthy substititions rather than trying to eliminate the calorie-dense choices altogether (aka "go cold turkey"). By focusing on food for the prime reason that it helps nourish our body, it becomes quite simple to prioritize certain foods that you know will provide your body with a variety of nutrients. Once you create this wonderful foundation, there becomes a lot more wiggly room when it comes to enjoying occasional treats and not feeling so overwhelmed by the many food products available to consumers.
When reading my latest issue of Environmental Nutrition (march 2012, volune 35, Number 3), I read a great article titled "Cancer-fighting Plant Foods". I found it odd that it said "plant-foods" and not just "Cancer-fighting foods". Perhaps the emphasis on plant foods was to remind the reader that plant foods have a host of powerful properties, beyond just being "low cal" (which is often why people choose to eat them when "dieting". Particularly the ability to safeguard you against cancer, I think we should give a bit more credit to fruits and veggies. Whereas at one time, if you were eating a salad people would say "oh, are you on a diet?" I believe that a satisfying, balanced salad or plant-strong meal is simply a pro-active measure of increasing your chance of a quality-filled life (both in terms of fitness and health).
While you may not know (or need to know) the exact science of food in the body, I find it all very interesting. Perhaps my 6 years of higher education in Exercise science and Exercise physiology opened my eyes to an exciting field of how nutrition affects the body during exercise. But squeeze in my 3 years of education to become a RD and my current job as a clinical dietitian in a hospital, I have a very large appreciation for food and how it affects our body on a daily basis.
Printed in my latest issue of Environmental Nutrition,
Nutrients, Fiber and Phytochemicals help fight against cancer
The latest research suggests that food choices can fight cancer development at many different stages:
1) Nutrients - such as folate from dark green vegetables, oranges and legumes (beans, tofu) and phytochemicals (compounds found in plant foods), such as allyl sulfur found in garlic, and isothiocyanates, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, help turn on tumor suressor genes and turn off genes that lead to cancer development and its ability to spread.
2) Healthy bacteria in your gut use dietary fiber and resistant starch (a type of fiber abundant in dried beans) to produce butyrate, a fatty acid that seems to protect colon cells.
3) Some phytochemicals stimulate inactivation of carcinogens or self-destruction of abnormal cells.
4) Phytochemicals can provide antioxidant protection against DNA damage and fight inflammation.
Every year I make breakfast for dinner on Valentines day, for Karel and myself. This year I wanted to do something besides French Toast or Pancakes (two of our favorites) so I decided to look inside my 'fridge to see what ingredients I could put together.
I called my mom when I was pulling out ingredients for the meal and I told her about my idea to make a brown rice crust. She asked "Where did you come up with that idea?" and I said "In my head...like every creation I make."
There are so many different ways you can use the same ingredients in my quiche and make your own plant-strong creation. Never lose sight of not only enjoying what you put in your body but also the "work" that goes into making a fabulous "insert-name" creation.
Asparagus, zucchini and mushroom quiche w/ brown rice crust
1/2 cup brown rice (cooked)
1 tbsp part-skim ricotta
1 whole egg, 1 egg white
Pepper, cumin seeds, chili powder
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a glass casserole dish with non-stick spray or coat with oil.
2. Scramble all ingredients in bowl and pour into dish.
3. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until crust is brown on edges and firm to the touch.
4. Turn down oven to 350-degrees.
4 large mushrooms (sliced)
1 small zucchini (sliced)
2 large roma tomatoes
1/2 medium onion sliced
1 large clove garlic (sliced)
8-10 spears asparagus (cooked and chopped)
4 eggs (1 whole, 3 whites)
1/8 cup skim milk + 1-2 tbsp
1/4 cup shredded cheese (either as a topping or inside quiche)
1. In large bowl, combine all ingredients (except onions) and mix well. Add additional 1-2 tbsp milk if you can't seem to wet all of the ingredients. The liquid should not be higher than the veggies. The eggs will rise in the pan to form a quiche so it's ok if the veggies are not submerged in liquid.
*Tip: if you are wanting to make this for kids or someone who is not a big fan of veggies (yet :) ), use the cheese as a topping as seeing the cheese will make the meal look more exciting rather than mixing in the cheese.
2. Pour mixture on crust and press down firmly. Sprinkle onions on top.
3. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until egg mixture is firm.