How to feed yourself

The basics of nutrition and food


Reagan Rinehart, Student Life Editor

You want to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and not the middle.”

— Vicki Morrison

2014 is coming to a close, and that means many of us are about to start our New Year’s Resolutions, a common one being dieting. With a new year, many of us will be trying to lose weight, and in a couple of months, many of us will feel defeated. Why is it so hard to go on a weight loss diet? It’s probably because often people try starvation diets.

Starvation diets, often marketed as “fast diets,” may work fast, but don’t have lasting results. Starvation diets demand cuts in calories to achieve weight loss. The biggest problem with this type of diet is that by starving your body of calories, you starve it of energy, which is all a calorie is. But not only energy, you starve your body of nutrients. Nutritionist Vicki Morrison said it’s “insane” to starve yourself. She explains that focusing too heavily on calories and not enough at the nutritional value of the actual foods that you put into your body isn’t an effective way of dieting, and often times, it will make you gain weight faster. Morrison said, “Your brain, every system in your body, is going to be telling you, you’re gonna be craving nutrients, to go put something in your body that’s nutritional.” A good comparison of two foods with roughly the same calories is brown rice (216 calories) and a glazed doughnut (260 calories). We all know that doughnuts don’t have a great reputation as a healthy food. That’s because there’s little nutritional value in a doughnut. Morrison explained, “Something with greater nutritional value (brown rice) will metabolize more slowly in your system and you would feel more satisfied than you would with, for instance, with a doughnut, which will spike your blood sugar really high and then drop you really low and then you’ll be hungry quicker. So in the long run, people just cannot stay on a starvation diet.”

Although there is controversy among experts over what macro-nutrients, (Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates), are the most important, most agree that the most effective way to eat healthy is by consuming Whole Foods. This means foods that are not processed or refined, or are as little processed and refined as possible, and are free from additives and artificial substances. You would want to eat whole foods as opposed to packages foods including those marketed as weight loss products such as breakfast bars, protein shakes and smoothies, sugary and processed cereals, and other goods with words like “slim” and “fit” added to them. Morrison said, “I would stay away from things in packages; you want to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and not the middle.”

Not only do processed foods metabolize more quickly, leaving you hungry faster, but there’s also trans fats, or hydrogenated fats in them. Morrison said, “most people think that saturated fat and trans fat are the same thing, and they are completely opposite.” She said that saturated fats are healthy, like animal fats, coconut oil, and palm oil, but vegetable oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil are bad for us. Trans fats can sometimes be in your food without being labeled as having any, because “0.5 grams of hydrogenated fat (can be) in the product and they (the food manufacturers) can still say there’s zero, but if you ate five or six of those, then you’re getting several grams of trans fat… so you have to read the ingredients and look for the word hydrogenated… any time you see the word “hydrogenated” even if it says zero trans fats, it has trans fats,” said Morrison.

We also have to be careful when we eat protein. Animal proteins like chicken, eggs, and beef will give you the nutrients you need, however if the animal the meat came from was factory farmed, it may lack the nutrients we need. Most meat sold in grocery stores and restaurants are factory farmed. When shopping for meat products, it’s necessary to be conscious of whether the animal was grass-fed on a farm, or grain and corn-fed in a factory.  The difference between many simple carbohydrates, like brown rice, legumes, and whole wheat bread, and complete proteins is that these simple carbohydrates do not have all 8 essential amino acids, “although,” Morrison added, ” you can put rice (grains) and beans (legumes) together and make a complete protein. Because there are 8 essential amino acids, and to make a complete protein, you must have all eight of them. Rice doesn’t have all eight, and neither does beans, but together they do.” Other combinations of carbohydrates to make complete proteins are nuts and legumes, and legumes and seeds. Other carbohydrates would be fruits and vegetables; although its important to have fruits and vegetables in our diet, the types that we eat determine how many nutrients we receive. We need most of all leafy green vegetables, like kale, spinach, broccoli, beats, and Brussel sprouts. Color is also very important; Morrison recommended avoiding white foods like white grains and potatoes, and instead eating colorful plants.

What is of utmost importance is eating to satisfy your body. This year, don’t strain yourself on a starvation diet, eat healthy foods in abundance.

Do you eat for nutritional value or for taste?

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