Nutrition: Keep the Wheels Turning

“Eat c’mon, have a lil’ more,” the mantra I would hear from my Italian family and relatives while growing up.  So, it wasn’t surprising that some of them now battle chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, gastric esophagus reflux disorder (GERD), overweight issues; and some in fact, have passed on due to such health disorders.  Portion size, along with the selection of food choices definitely are primary factors in contributing to such diseases.   Surprisingly, when we have an ailment or a pain and go to a physician, they do not ask what we ate that day or the previous day.  Even though science has revealed that proper nutrition, inclusive of an exercise program is essential to wellness and living a healthy life.

Healthy nutrition is still at the bottom of the list when it comes to options prior to taking a pharmaceutical drug to treat chronic disease.  If we know this, why has the whole population not been able to incorporate such priceless knowledge into our everyday lives, and why does the U.S. have the highest obesity rate compared to Europe and China?  These are the realities of our modern world.  What then is the solution when it comes to proper nutrition?

When we think of a system failure or malfunction, we can use the analogy that our body is a vehicle taking us from one place to the next with an internal chip, our mind.  Our ability to think, feel, and make choices is what sets us aside from being a robot. As I’ve experienced, we generally do not wait until our car is stranded on some desolate road and completely out of fuel, to refuel.  We fuel up as the vehicle uses or expends energy maintaining a smooth balance that creates less wear and tear on the car.

Similarly, by using nutritional food exchanges and offering options of eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, our glucose levels remain balanced.  Fast foods and prepackaged processed foods are loaded with carbohydrates, fat, and sugars—quick fixes to fueling up and these can be harmful to our health.  If we were cars, would you like to continuously be run down to a bottomless tank and then quick started again and again with short periods of smooth running until you become exhausted, burned out and need to be brought into the shop for repairs?

Decades ago, we were not bombarded from a gazillion TV channels and digital magazines, newspapers, blogs, and social media, blaring advertisements to us from every food product imaginable.  We also didn’t have the luxury of buying fully prepared meals in a grocery store, or online for that matter, delivered to our door, without having to get off our seat.

Fat is needed in the human body in order to run smoothly.  Using the analogy of a car, fat like oil lubricates the muscles and joints allowing the body to function properly.  However, if the fat intake exceeds the actual energy expended, then the body has no recourse other than to store this fat.

In contrast, a lack of fat in the body or a lack of energy from an inadequate supply of nutritious foods can cause a process known as Gluconeogenesis.

Simply put, the body has its own natural form of survival and when the body is not being fed nutrients for energy, it will form new glucose on its own.  Cortisol is a hormone in the body responsible for breaking down muscle tissue and when necessary to survive, turns it into sugar.  Instead of burning fat in this case, the body would burn muscle creating malnutrition prone to health problems.  A balance of the right amounts of fat intake and energy expended is crucial to maintaining good health and weight management.

How much exercise is appropriate and which foods are best eaten to sustain healthy living? While acquiring my Fitness Nutrition certification, a requirement was to interview several certified nutritionists or registered dietitians and then determine the differences of each practice’s philosophy.

Through my research I discovered contrasting opinions about what each believes to be proper nutrition.  I believe that part of the core problem as to why so many people are still overweight and/or battle hyperactivity with their children, may be due to the very lack thereof, “streamlined information” being fed to us about nutrition.

There really is no magic formula or quick fix for weight management.  Sure, such fixes might be offered as solutions such as fad diets or supplements, injections, or even surgery for that matter. We can buy virtually anything for the right price, right? I’m still disturbed and yet amazed, that some people resort to such a drastic measure and cut their bodies, bleed profusely, and go through months of rehabilitation just to extract excess body fat, verses learning effective ways to eat and exercise.

Fortunately, the solution to both a healthy bodily function and life is simple.  A daily awareness and maintenance of both nutritious food intake and physical activity.

Given the option, which path do you choose?  Fitness Nutrition training has offered me effective techniques to teach better eating and exercising habits.  Eating better makes us feel better.  And if we feel better, we exude greater confidence.  With a meal and exercise program designed specifically for someone’s body type, the body becomes healthier and stronger with more energy for everyday living.

Self-discipline however, is essential.  The daily constant enemy is the bombardment of commercial advertisements.  Food packaging plays a huge role in what we buy and what entices our kids.  Generally, we buy through visual perception.  If food looks appealing, or the advertiser’s model is attractive, then likely, whether the food is nutritious or not, it becomes the choice.

Have you ever seen an advertisement with a really attractive overweight model, out of breath, advertising a food product that contains loads of fat, refined sugar and carbohydrates and promotes, “You can look and feel just like me?” Hmm…something to think about.


Yvonne Hendricks is a Specialist in Exercise Therapy, Certified Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer and Cookbook Autghor
About the author

Yvonne Hendricks is a media personality, health and wellness expert, chef, author of Yvonne’s Cookbook “Let’s Eat!” Authentic Neapolitan Recipes & World Travel Inspired Meals , and vegetarian “pescatarian”even before it was an actualized word who lives and practices a healthy lifestyle for over 35 years. LEARN MORE

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