Updated: Jul 10, 2018
Have you ever sat down to eat a meal and found yourself unintentionally counting your calories? Rather than doing meal math at every meal, you should start counting what really matters such as: water intake, protein, fruits & veggies, sodium, fiber and sugar. When it comes to choosing foods, these are key-elements to a balanced diet. Counting calories can cause an unhealthy mindset. Choosing foods based on the quality rather than the quantity is a great way to fuel your body with the nutrients that it needs.
Water intake is VERY important, especially in the summer time! Even when you aren’t sweating your body looses water by breathing and through digestion. Drinking fluids is one way to stay hydrated, but you also can eat foods containing water such as: celery, watermelon, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers! Lack of water can cause us to become dehydrated and to feel lethargic. Adequate water intake per day for women is about 11 cups and for men its about 15 cups. If you are very overweight or are trying to lose weight, you might need to drink even more water.
Protein is essential to your whole body and is apart of creating your hormones and enzymes. It also is the major building block of bones, muscles, skin and even blood. Eat foods high in protein such as: eggs, beans, seafood, milk products and white-meat poultry. It's best to keep your protein intake about 10 g per meal at minimum, as well as adding it to snacks throughout the day. Spreading protein out throughout the day is better in order to maintain blood sugar and insulin levels. If you are working out consistently, then the protein intake should be higher to help your body recover.
Fruits and vegetables contain many natural vitamins and minerals that help keep you healthy. Some vitamins that are abundant in fruits and vegetables are Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. Vitamin A helps with the formation of bones, tissue and teeth. Vitamin B assists in converting food into fuel, this allows for us to stay motivated and energized throughout the day. Vitamin C assists with the absorption of iron as well as boosts the immune system. Vitamin K helps blood clot, which stops excessive bleeding. Its recommended that you should be eating about 2 servings of fruit per day and 3 servings of veggies.
Sodium, Fiber and Sugar although not seeming like much should be monitored. The American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg per day is an ideal limit however, no more than 2,300 mg per day should be consumed. The issue with sodium is that it is found almost everywhere and even in food that seems to be healthy. Monitoring this can decrease your chances for developing edema, a condition in which your body has an excess of sodium, a water-like fluid will collect throughout different parts of your body. This causes swelling in places like your feet, legs, ankles, stomach or even lungs. Fiber is essential because it assists in digestion, it can lower blood cholesterol as well as decrease high glucose levels. Its recommended that men should be eating 30 to 38 grams a day and women should be eating 25 grams. Foods high in fiber include: oats, peas, beans, apples, and carrots. Sugar is definitely something to watch for in those who have insulin resistance. Without insulin, eating an abundant amount of sugar will cause a spike in blood sugar. It is recommended that women limit their sugar intake to 6 tsps or 25 g a day, and men limit their sugar intake to 9 tsps or 38 g a day.
Counting what really matters will allow you to nourish your body with quality food and be aware of the foods that you should be eaten less of. Eat to live, in order to nourish your body with fuel; rather than living to eat.