How to create optimal health
Health is not just the absence of disease, its a multi-factorial approach that requires us to look into all aspects of our life such as;
Being healthy may have different meanings to each individual person, and every case is unique. What is for certain is that our diet and nutrition will play a massive role in our overall health, related to all those individual aspects.
So how can nutrition play a role in the above aspects and why should we take these into account?
Firstly, lets talk about Social.
We all want to look great and lose weight, but are you willing to give up alcohol and parties to do so?
As defined by WHO, to be considered as having optimal health, you need to have a balance of physical, nutritional and social well being. Maintaining healthy social relationships is paramount for anyone to maximise their enjoyment in general life, so it is not something we would encourage you to put at the way side for long periods as we look to improve other areas of our lifestyle.
When going on a diet, generally for the short term, these things will be avoided or cut down.
However there are ways to educate yourself so that there can be minimum disruption to your social life. For example;
Swap beers for vodka. Chose lower calorie drinks and stick to these throughout the night.
Stick to meat and vegetables when dining in restaurants, and choosing between a starter or dessert, not both.
Increase your NEAT and exercise levels prior to a social event. If you know you have an event coming up where there will be alcohol and food consumed, you can chose to do extra cardio on that day, and even the week leading up to the event. This will help to increase your output and hopefully prevent any noticeable weight gain. You can check out our previous blog on Alcohol and Dieting for more help on this subject.
Lets move on to Emotional health.
Do you have an Emotional attachment to food? Using food as an emotional outlet can lead to weight gain and health problems later in life.
Now this isn’t to say having an ice cream after a hard day at work is a bad thing, we just have to make sure its not a consistent habit that is going to knock us out of our calorie deficit or something that could lead to health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
If you find yourself emotionally eating, try to work at spotting your triggers. Stress, bad sleep etc. Do you have trigger foods? If so, at the beginning try not having them in your home until you feel more in control of you relationship with food.
Remember emotional eating habits can stem from our childhood, therefore it is not an overnight fix.
The Economic side to dieting is something that is not addressed as much as it should be. Have you budgeted for your weekly food shopping and gym sessions? Not everyone can afford high end services so you can opt to join possibly a lower entry system such as group training or group nutrition program.
Organic foods are not compulsory for fat loss. If you can afford to buy them then there is no harm, but remember organic foods alone wont make much difference to your overall health. Organic refers to the way the food is produced, so, of course, better quality nutrition will have a better quality internal result in your body. However, the main focus should be your food choices in general before you would begin to think about that. It can be expensive, so may not be an option for you. You need to be exercising, maintaining a good weight, looking after you mental health and overall well-being.
Are you Physically fit? For most people they just want to be able to run around after their kids without feeling out of breath after 1 minute! Or be able to keep up with a demanding job. Fuelling your body with the right foods will allow you to have better energy levels and increased muscle mass (if supported by training).
Ideally we want to be doing exercise on a regular basis from a young age. This not only develops good habits leading into adulthood but allows us to build optimal bone mineral density. This can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life
Your Intellectual and Psychological health is a huge part in the decision making process when beginning new lifestyle changes.
Seeking help from a professional will make the process easier and will remove a lot of the thinking and theory, you just need to put it into practice while learning and educating yourself along the way. This can be hiring someone who is an expert in the field, whether that is a dietitian, personal trainer or psychologist. These can all have really strong benefits to your physical and mental well being.
So as you can see, health is multi-factorial and they are all interconnected.
Creating optimal health involves addressing all these issues and creating a sustainable balance.
Tips for creating optimal health…
Maintain energy balance and hit your daily protein goal.
Eat lots of vegetables, some meat, diary and fruit. Limit refined foods and alcohol.
Exercise 2-3 times per week.
Drink 2-3 litres of water per day.
Increase your NEAT and activity levels throughout the week.
Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night and manage your stress levels.
Pay attention to your mental health and seek help if appropriate.