Healthy Eating. What exactly does it mean?
Not a doctor.
Cards on the table here straight away. Here in Craft Food Traders we are not doctors, dietitians, nutritionists or nutritional therapists. We do, however, have the experience of over 20 years in the food industry; observing trends, nutritionally analysing food and talking to proper experts. This is a massive area with any amount of published material out there so we are going to narrow this piece down under 3 main headings; Basic Nutrition, Weight Loss, Performance.
We eat to survive. Our bodies use food and drink as fuel. This fuel is converted to energy which is measured in calories. The energy drives everything we do, from thinking to running and everything in between. Rough figures, a human being on average needs around 2000 calories every day to get through all the normal activities of existing, working, playing, etc.
Pretty much every natural food out there has some calories in it. The basic components of the food being carbohydrate, fat and protein.
Of course different foods provide different quantities of these components plus potentially a wide variety of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
The vitamins and minerals perform a wide variety of functions in addition to the function of the food as an energy source.
So essentially we need the food as a source of energy but depending on the food itself we get varying levels of nutrition.
Let's move on.
We are all familiar with the term "balanced diet". In simple terms this means keeping a healthy balance of the main dietary components of Carbs, Protein and Fats and including as many other nutrients as possible. Another balance that's important is that between "healthy" and "unhealthy" options. If a diet is heavy on indulgence type foods; chocolate, biscuits, wine, sweets, it's going to be very difficult to achieve nutritional balance with the remaining daily calorie budget. This diet will be too high on carbs and too low on everything else.
Let's be realistic. Everyone should enjoy a tasty treat. We have a whole section in our online store devoted to indulgence and we are very proud of these quality Irish products. What is important is to balance these choices with other more nutritious choices.
When we talk about diet and health and healthy eating it's almost certain this conversation will come around to weight loss unless you are a fairly serious sports person. Personally I am not comfortable with the focus on weight as there are other important considerations such as fitness (many people are fit but overweight), body shape and well-being. However generally speaking weight can be a good metric to measure progress on a new healthy lifestyle journey.
With some exceptions (maybe) gaining weight is caused by consuming more energy than you expend. Energy comes in the form of the food and drink you consume and is burned up by activity and movement. If an individual knows their calorie requirement for normal daily activity, adds on some extra for exercise and only consumes that calorie quantity they will stay at their current weight. To lose weigh you create a calorie deficit, to gain weight you create a calorie excess.
Simples! Let's not get into body shapes and muscle mass etc in this article. The majority of us are not gaining weight through addition of muscle. This is actually quite a difficult thing to achieve.
The Fitness Chef offers a very practical approach towards management of calories. He doesn't demonise your favourite guilty pleasures, just encourages you to control your portions and be aware of the contribution.
Some of us are into physical activity to such a degree that we want to use food to help our performance in this area.
Someone like Evan Lynch who specialises in this area can develop a whole programme to suit an individuals requirements in the area so we won't be backing ourselves into any corners on this blog.
Suffice to say that depending on each requirement there is a bit of research, analysis and planning required in order to maximise nutrition to achieve physical goals. Our Wellness section can help source some of these foods, particularly in drinks and snacks. What you eat and when you eat it can be very important to how your perform.