New here? Learn about my wellness project, during which I will explore different areas of wellness for a whole year.
We are what we eat. Simple as that. That is why nutrition is my focus for the first month of my wellness project.
Every day, we put food in our mouths for a variety of reasons, and it becomes part of us. Food can make us feel energized, sluggish, depressed, bloated, and if we’re allergic to a particular food, it can actually kill us!
Food is powerful stuff!
I have spent much of my adult life with stomach issues that have been explained as “IBS.” I tried to determine one or more culprits by doing an elimination diet last fall, and confirmed that dairy probably wasn’t for me. Other than that, I didn’t have much success in pinpointing an irritant, making me think that stress is also a factor.
From a body composition perspective, I’m in the normal range, but I do feel that I would be healthiest if I was about 5 – 10 lbs lighter. I have some fat around my stomach that seems superfluous.
By focusing on eating as well as I can (for me) for a month, I’m hoping that I will eliminate my stomach pains and hopefully improve my body composition just a tad.
Nutrition Resolution #1: No Refined Sugar
Refined sugar has no nutritional value and contributes to weight gain and a host of other problems (like cavities!). I.e., there is no need for our diet to contain refined sugar.
I have come to view refined sugar pretty much as a poison that doesn’t make me well at all.
I actually went off sugar prior to starting the wellness project. You can learn more about how I’m planning to beat my sugar addiction here.
What about Wine?
When I was planning my wellness project, I thought that I would exclude wine during this month. However, we have a fun tradition going where we have “Wine at 5” (per the Blue Zones Power 9®) most Fridays, and ultimately I decided that one glass of wine per week would be a nice treat.
Nutrition Resolution #2: Eliminate Dairy
Since I already know that dairy is an irritant for me, I decided to be more strict about cutting it out completely (inspired by reading the book What’s Eating Your Child). Even after my elimination diet, I’ve continued to each cheese and ice cream and just dealing with the pain.
Now I want to optimize for wellness, so dairy has to go. And of course, I feel so much better.
I do eat goat milk products, so that helps. I’m currently hooked on goat milk yoghurt (plain).
Nutrition Resolution #3: Drink Enough Water
I often feel thirsty and tired in the afternoon, and I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I’m not drinking enough water. I also know that being dehydrated can make you feel hungry, leading to overeating.
So how much water is enough? Some people say drink when you’re thirsty. Others say drink 8 cups per day. My favorite recipe for hydration is this formula:
0.5 Ounces x Body Weight in Pounds = Daily Fluid Requirements in Ounces
For me, that’s approximately 70 ounces per day (or 9 cups). Then you should add a cup for every 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. So on a normal day, I supposedly need to drink between 11 and 12 cups of water.
The way I track this is by filling up a 32 oz pitcher in the morning and drinking two big glasses right away. (This really helps with digestion, btw.) Then I continue to drink water throughout the day until I’ve reached my water quota.
Of course, this method works for me, because I work from home. For people who spend much of their day elsewhere, a large water bottle would work just as well. Just remember to refill it!
Nutrition Resolution #4: Eat 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables
I have no problem loading up on fruit, but the truth is that I rarely crave vegetables. Or never…
But I know I need to eat more vegetables, so I decided to include them as a resolution. Of course, I’m cutting myself some slack here by saying “fruits and vegetables,” but I’m making sure that at least 2 of those servings are from vegetables.
Some ways I like to eat my vegetables:
- Carrots and celery with hummus
- Sautéed greens with garlic
- Roasted root vegetables
- Salads of all kinds
It takes a certain amount of effort to eat vegetables. At least some washing or peeling or chopping. But the health benefits are so great, it seems like a good investment of time.
TIP: Here are some easy ways to include fruits and vegetables from SparkPeople.
Nutrition Resolution #5: Keep a Food Journal
In order to monitor myself related to eating and also to track adverse reactions to food, I decided that my final resolution during nutrition month would be to keep a food journal.
The first two days, I used a small notebook and recorded what I ate and how I felt. Then I realized that recording this information electronically would make more sense for me and my lifestyle.
I had used FitDay in the past and decided to give it a try again. I really enjoy the various statistics and charts that they show you related to everything from exercise, calorie distribution, nutrient intake, etc. It requires a bit more time (especially upfront), but the record is really solid.
Here is an example of the “Average Daily Calories Eaten” chart:
Eating for Nourishment
An overarching goal for this month is to eat for nourishment rather than from boredom, sadness, social pressure, or whatever other reasons we eat.
This obviously requires some alternatives to eating as a distraction technique. For me, some of the options are:
- Working on tasks I enjoy.
- Going for a walk.
- Singing/playing the piano.
- Reading a good book.
- Drinking water.
Over to You!
What would you focus on if you were working on your nutrition?