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  • Alisa Dusan, RDN, LD

The Basics - They Really Do Matter

This blog is not going to be exciting. But if we're being honest, nutrition blogs really shouldn't be. When it comes to feeding yourself well, there's a lot of hype and fear mongering out there. Exciting sells, it gets shares and likes and clicks and all of the things people making money on the interwebs want. The problem is, it causes us to get all excited about fancy new supplements and tricks that we forget that a lot of nutrition is really basic. There are very general, basic, everyday things that you should be doing to feel well. And if you're not, then fine-tuning what type of kale you eat really isn't going to matter. I get lots of clients in my office that want to know about very specific supplements, or try elimination diets, but don't eat regular, balanced meals. These things won't help them if the foundation isn't there.

So, let me make this really clear: If you are not doing the basics, the fancy stuff doesn't matter.

So, what are the basics? I'm so glad you asked because otherwise this list I came up with would have been a huge waste of time. If you want to feel better and are thinking about adjusting your nutrition, here's where to start:

1. Eat on a regular schedule. If you are not eating balanced meals on a fairly regular schedule, chances are, you're not going to feel well. You might not be allergic to anything or have "brain fog." You might just be hungry. Most people need to eat every 4-5 hours or so. If you're schedule makes it so you go 6 or 7 or more hours between eating, then you're probably getting too hungry. And if you're really accustomed to doing this, you probably don't even feel that hunger. You probably feel upset, lightheaded or just plain old tired. And when you get too hungry, your body will direct you to higher calorie food choices when you finally do eat. You know that you just had a really stressful day at work, but your body doesn't know that there isn't a famine going on out there so it directs you to seek out high energy foods. This makes it difficult to make great food choices when you do eat, causes you to eat quickly and, you guessed it, makes you feel pretty bad.

2. Eat balance meals. Folks, you don't have to count macros or avoid certain foods (unless you have a medical condition that requires it). Just put together balanced meals. Your body needs carbs, protein and a little fat to feel satisfied at every meal. It also needs some fiber (read: fruits and veggies). Take a minute and think back to the last meal you ate. Did it have a good source of carbs? Did it have protein? Where there some fruits and/or veggies? You probably got some fat by default. So, if you had all of those components, you nailed it. It's that simple.

3. Drink enough water. Start with the old 8 cups of water a day rule and see how you feel. Not everyone needs the same amount of water and it varies with activity level. But, you can bet if all you are drinking is Diet Coke and coffee all day, then you're body could use a little more water.

4. Make enough time for food. Food should never be all consuming, it should enhance life and relationships and aid you in accomplishing your goals. But it also can't be a complete afterthought. There's no way around the fact that feeding yourself well is going to take some time and effort. Take an honest look at your schedule. Do you have time each week to go to the grocery store or order groceries (I refuse to actually go to the store, but I LOVE Shipt). Do you have space in your day to sit down, even if it's just for 10-15 minutes a meal, and feed yourself? I'm talking about an actual table with a plate and even a fork if you really want to get snazzy. Are you taking some time to cook meals at home? It doesn't have to be every meal, but there should be some space in your schedule to prepare food at home. There are no magic bullets to feeding yourself well if you're not going to at least devote a little time to it.

5. Eat enough fruits and veggies. Guys, stop stressing about the details when it comes to produce. If you have reasons for wanting organic, cool. If you prefer fresh or are in love with your ugly produce box, awesome. But it's also great to use fresh and canned and freeze dried and pre-prepped in the bags. Just eat enough and don't let the details deter you from getting enough produce in your diet. Sometimes our pursuit for perfect keeps us from getting enough.

6. Sleep. I'm not a sleep doctor or scientist or anything of the sorts. But let me just say, you cannot eat your way out of not sleeping enough. It just doesn't work. Sorry moms with newborns, I wish I had more encouragement for you.

If you're not feeling well and are suspecting your diet may be the culprit. Start with these basics. Even though this list is simple, it can be hard to make these life adjustments - that's what I'm here for. Don't hesitate to make an appointment and we can work together to make a plan that works for you! Sure, some people have medical conditions or life goals that require more advanced nutrition and more fine tuning of their diets. But if you're not willing to do the basics of feeding yourself well, then don't waste your time, energy and money on fancier nutrition trends.

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