Our Love & Hate Relationship with FOOD! Holiday Series: Part 1

It’s the dreaded Holiday Season and for some and this time of year is a total struggle!!! The food struggle causes significant anxiety and depression. Thanksgiving is behind us but Christmas eagerly pursues us!!! Food is an essential substance we need 3-6 times daily to maintain total body homeostatic function. So let’s examine food basics and evidence based facts to help guide us all in making better food selections. Whether an elite athlete or the weekend warrior; balancing nutritional intake to maximize daily energy and energy for work-out performance output without overeating can be challenging.

There are so many “expert opinions” about the best combination of nutrients and supplements, that it can become confusing and at times discouraging. Understanding how nutrients work inside the body in relation to metabolic functions and tasks is the greatest key to nutritional success. Also, understanding how your body works and responds is another great key not only nutritional success but performance output and recovery. The general prescription for macro-nutrients based on a 2000-2200 calorie eating plan is 40-60% carbohydrates, 20-30% fats, and 10-35% protein. An athlete or competitive active adult expends a significant amount of energy during practice and performance. New research has proven that athletes need more macro-nutrients to provide the proper amount of fuel to help maintain energy levels during performance. Furthermore, research has also proven the need for proper nutrition for restorative and preparatory purposes after a work-out.

Our goal is to feel good and confident with our selections and remove the guilt of
our food choice wasn’t the best for a day, two, three or a week. We do not want to
create negative eating cycles as a means to “punish” or “discipline” ourselves.
One of the more common negative cycles we create stems from skipping meals
especially when we feel we have not made excellent meal choices. According to
the blog published in the Huff Post College (05/2016) entitled “Stop Skipping
Meals. Seriously”; there are three behaviors associated with skipping meals. The
behaviors are as follows: meal skipping evolves from circumstantial to habit; meal
skipping creates cravings and meal skipping slows you down.(Huff PostCollege,
2016). These behaviors elicit symptoms which disrupts daily routines. Some of
the symptoms include: headaches, brain fog, irritability, mood swings, weight gain,
and unhealthy metabolic changes.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the purpose for following daily nutritional standards is as follows:
1.Balancing calories to manage weight
2.Foods and food components to reduce
3.Foods and nutrients to increase, and
4.Building healthy eating patterns (Powers & Howley, 2012)
There have been guidelines established to ensure that all healthy individuals have a guideline to follow so that they can maintain and in other cases improve their health. These standards have created recommended daily intakes of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and caloric intake values from macro-nutrients
obtained from food products. Some of these nutrients can be acquired through supplementation. In other instances, some populations of individuals such as
week-end warriors, collegiate, and elite athletes; require nutrient intakes above the
recommended amounts to maintain the intake and expenditure balance of calories.
There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats,
and proteins. We need a balance mix of all of these nutrients to maintain a healthy
state of homeostatic balance. Athletes need to maintain an increased balance of
these nutrients due to the nature of their sports. These sports activities demand a
high rate of turn over for these nutrients in order to provide the body the energy
requirements necessary to performance of the sport. These same nutrients must be
rapidly replaced. We will explore the effects on performance when insufficient nutrients are
provided to our body system.
Huang, J. and Mehta, Nandeet.(2016). Stop Skipping Meals. Seriously. HuffPost
College. The Blog. CLICK HERE
Powers, S. K. & Howley, E.T. (2012).Exercise Physiology: Theory and application
to Fitness and Performance. ( 8th ed). McGraw-Hill. New York, New York