It’s the beginning of a new year, and everyone is talking about healthy resolutions. We see it in blog posts, Instagram stories, lengthy Facebook rants—this is the year I’m going to eat better. And what a fine resolution to make! The merits of making resolutions (or the decision to publicize them on social media!) aside, we’d like to help our readers achieve better nutrition by understanding some of the ways nutrition affects everyday life.
5 WAYS NUTRITION AFFECTS DAILY LIFE
Remember the age-old phrase, you are what you eat?
It’s true. Our body signals and reflects the quality of nutrition it receives in a variety of ways. And because many of these signs are mostly tolerable, however uncomfortable or unpleasant, we accept them as the norm and live on. This includes warning signs like sleeplessness, stress, anxiety. Low energy. Even depression.
In reality, many of these symptoms are connected to diet in some way, and making dietary improvements can not only improve these conditions, but pay huge dividends over time in terms of overall health and quality of life.
So, in the spirit of helping you achieve your resolution to eat healthier this year, here are five areas in which making good on this resolution will help move the needle in the right direction.
Energy. How fitting that one of the key measurements of what we eat is food energy. Fact is, there is a direct connection between diet and energy. A quick story: yours truly recently completed a week-long “detox” diet focused on avoiding sugars, fats, caffeine, and alcohol while incorporating healthy fats, fruits, and veggies. At first, my energy was at an all-time low (like, had-to-nap-in-my-car-at-lunch low). Once my body finally adjusted, though, I felt a noticeable boost in my energy levels, mental alacrity, and general well-being. All I did was eat differently.
Cravings. If your diet is characterized by copious amounts of fat, salt, and sugar, guess what you’re going to crave above all other things? That’s right: late at night, when that pang of hunger hits, it’s the ice cream you’ll be reaching for, not the roasted sweet potatoes. Oh, and guess how you’ll feel when you don’t satisfy those cravings? Pretty terrible. Which leads us to…
Mood. A number of studies show that there is a link between what you eat and how you feel. We’re not only talking energy here, necessarily—we’re talking mood. Ever hear someone throw around the word hangry to describe how they’re feeling? How about cranky? Or even just blah? There’s a good chance that nutrition has something to do with it.
Stress. Stress is a reality we all face, to varying degrees. And it’s often when our stress levels are highest that our nutrition suffers most, including impulse behavior like binge eating or ordering that second round of drinks. The good news is that even moderate changes to nutrition can have a direct impact on stress levels over time. Pro tip: instead of reaching for sugars or booze in times of weakness, try a little exercise, the proven way to regulate and reduce stress levels.
Movement. Poor diets, especially those high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, can lead to inflammation, impact muscle gain and weight loss, and negatively influence recovery time. By sustaining a more nutritious diet over time, one can experience reduced inflammation, better mobility, and improved quality of life. This is especially true of those living with obesity.
IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU EAT, BUT HOW YOU EAT
If you’re reading this and thinking, Okay, but how? We get it. Rather than give you a laundry list of tips on improving nutrition, try keeping this simple principle in mind: it’s not what you eat, but how. What do we mean by that? Get to the root of your nutritional imbalances. Maybe it’s not where you go for lunch, but how often you tend to go there. Are you eating food close to bedtime on a regular basis? Are weekends unhealthy grace periods for binge-eating pizza storms? Mindful nutrition can even be as simple as taking a look at how fast or slow you eat your meals, or how thoroughly you chew. Try slowing things down a bit! Don’t know where to start? Make a written inventory of everything you consume daily, for a week, then review that diet journal.
You might find some surprising insights!
Regardless of how you approach nutrition in the new year, there’s no question that the choices you make will affect your daily life. The key is to find a strategy that you can sustain over time. Baby steps to the bus, as a wise person once said. In terms of nutrition and daily well being, the results can be tremendous.