What is Fuel?

The very functions of life are completely dependent on energy, which in turn is derived from the combustion of foodstuffs. Growth and the continual process of repair depend on the utilization of protein and other nutrients. The life of the individual cell is dependent on oxygen and water; but it is hemoglobin, which carries the oxygen to the cell, and it is the ultimate breakdown of carbohydrate and interrelated nutrients which, with the fluids we drink, supplies the water. Enzymes and vitamins are the two sides of a coin; minerals come from the earth and from flesh to reach every cell.

Nutrition is at work during our entire lifecycle — from infancy to adolescence, adulthood and in our senior years — and can be the antidote for many of today’s common problems, such as stress, pollution, sexual vitality, and disease prevention.

Dietary Guidelines

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce risk for chronic disease.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.  Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

→ More information about the Dietary Guidelines 

Estimated Daily Calorie Needs 

→ “Choose My Plate” Food Groups

Fuel Efficiency

Dummy (to keep closed)
The Importance of Hydration
Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. Water is needed for good health.

How does my body lose water?

Water makes up more than half of your body weight. You lose water each day when you go to the bathroom, sweat, and even when you breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is really hot, when you are physically active, or if you have a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid water loss. If you don’t replace the water you lose, you can become dehydrated.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Symptoms of dehydration include the following:

  • Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
  • No tears when crying

Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration to take action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.

 

Tips for staying hydrated

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Purchasing bottled water is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste. Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it from the tap instead.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.
  • Be sure to drink water before, during, and after a workout.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
What is Mindful Eating?
Simply put, mindful eating is learning to pay attention. Instead of eating mindlessly, putting food into your mouth almost unconsciously, not really tasting the food you’re eating, you notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. You learn to pay attention to your emotions during and after eating.  The goal of mindful eating, then, is to base our meals on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort.

Strategy 1

In Eating Mindfully, Susan Albers recommends starting with one mealtime: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Choose a specific location to eat, such as your table or the lunchroom at work. Sit quietly. Don’t get up, and don’t answer the phone.

Have all the food you intend to eat on the table in front of you before starting. To be mindful you must give your full attention to your eating. You must focus on the process of eating and enjoying your meal.

Strategy 2

One way to slow down the process of eating is to challenge the way you have always done it.

For example, try eating using a pair of chopsticks instead of your customary utensils. This will force you to take smaller portions, eat more slowly, and look at your food more closely. Other strategies include eating with your non-dominant hand, chewing your food 30 to 50 times per bite, or trying to make the portion of food you’ve taken for the meal last 20 minutes.

Observe the sensation of picking up the food and placing it in your mouth.

Strategy 3

In Coming to Our Senses, mindfulness guru Jon Kabat Zinn says, “When we taste with attention, even the simplest foods provide a universe of sensory experience, awakening us to them.”

The “Raisin Meditation” is an exercise based on Buddhist teachings. (Note: if you don’t like raisins, you can use another fruit or nut.)

Raisin Meditation

  • Sit comfortably in a chair.
  • Place a raisin in your hand.
  • Examine the raisin as if you had never seen it before.
  • Imagine it as its “plump self” growing on the vine surrounded by nature.
  • As you look at the raisin, become conscious of what you see: the shape, texture, color, size. Is it hard or soft?
  • Bring the raisin to your nose and smell it.
  • Are you anticipating eating the raisin? Is it difficult not to just pop it in your mouth?
  • How does the raisin feel? How small it is in your hand?
  • Place the raisin in your mouth. Become aware of what your tongue is doing.
  • Bite ever so lightly into the raisin. Feel its squishiness.
  • Chew three times and then stop.
  • Describe the flavor of the raisin. What is the texture?
  • As you complete chewing, swallow the raisin.
  • Sit quietly, breathing, aware of what you are sensing.

Kabat Zinn discusses the experience thus:

“The raisin exercise dispels all previous concepts we may be harboring about meditation. It    immediately places it in the realm of the ordinary, the everyday, the world you already know but are now going to know differently. Eating one raisin very, very slowly allows you to drop right into the knowing in ways that are effortless, totally natural, and entirely beyond words and thinking. Such an exercise delivers wakefulness immediately. There is in this moment only tasting.”

References:

  • Albers, S. (2003). Eating Mindfully. Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
  • Kabat Zinn, J. (2005). Coming to Our Senses. New York: Hyperion.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a condition that is associated with having an excess of body fat, defined by genetic and environmental factors that are difficult to control when dieting. Obesity is classified as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is a tool used to measure obesity. Obesity increases your risk of developing related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea, to name a few. Many individuals are affected by obesity and are not aware of it.

Calculate Your Body Mass Index

The BMI Calculator is an easy-to-use online tool to help you estimate body fat. It is a measure of your weight relative to your height. Combining BMI with waist circumference measures and other risk factors for heart disease can yield your risk for developing obesity-associated diseases.

BMI Calculator

Risk Factors for Health Diseases Associated with Obesity

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
  • High triglycerides
  • High blood glucose (sugar)
  • Family history of premature heart disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking

For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, it is recommended that you lose weight. Even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. People who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.

Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.

 Selecting a Weight-Loss Program

Some people lose weight on their own; others like the support of a structured program. Overweight people who are successful at losing weight, and keeping it off, can reduce their risk factors for heart disease. If you decide to join any kind of weight-control program, here are some questions to ask before you join.

  • Does the program provide counseling to help you change your eating activity and personal habits?
    The program should teach you how to change permanently those eating habits and lifestyle factors, such as lack of physical activity, that have contributed to weight gain.
  • Is the staff made up of a variety of qualified counselors and health professionals such as nutritionists, registered dietitians, doctors, nurses, psychologists, and exercise physiologists?
    You need to be evaluated by a physician if you have any health problems, are currently taking any medicine or plan on taking any medicine, or plan to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds. If your weight-control plan uses a very low-calorie diet (a special liquid formula that replaces all food for 1 to 4 months), an exam and follow-up visits by a doctor also are needed.
  • Is training available on how to deal with times when you may feel stressed and slip back to old habits?
    The program should provide long-term strategies to deal with weight problems you may have in the future. These strategies might include things like setting up a support system and establishing a physical activity routine.
  • Is attention paid to keeping the weight off? How long is this phase?
    Choose a program that teaches skills and techniques to make permanent changes in eating habits and levels of physical activity to prevent weight gain.
  • Are food choices flexible and suitable? Are weight goals set by the client and the health professional?
    The program should consider your food likes and dislikes and your lifestyle when your weight-loss goals are planned.

There are other questions you can ask about how well a weight-loss program works. Because many programs don’t gather this information, you may not get answers. But it’s still important to ask them:

  • What percentage of people complete the program?
  • What is the average weight loss among people who finish the program?
  • What percentage of people have problems or side effects? What are they?
  • Are there fees or costs for additional items, such as dietary supplements?

Remember, quick weight loss methods don’t provide lasting results. Weight-loss methods that rely on diet aids like drinks, prepackaged foods, or diet pills don’t work in the long run. Whether you lose weight on your own or with a group, remember that the most important changes are long term. No matter how much weight you must lose, modest goals and a slow course will increase your chances of both losing the weight and keeping it off.

The Nutrition Facts Label

Start with the Serving Size

  • Look here for both the serving size (the amount people typically eat at one time) and the number of servings in the package.
  • Compare your portion size (the amount you actually eat) to the serving size listed on the panel. If the serving size is one cup and you eat two cups, you are getting twice the calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label.

Check Out the Total Calories

Find out how many calories are in a single serving. It’s smart to cut back on calories if you are watching your weight.

Let the Percent Daily Values Be Your Guide

Use percent Daily Values (DV) to help evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily meal plan.

  • Daily Values are average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day. A food item with a 5 percent DV of fat provides 5 percent of the total fat that a person consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat.
  • Percent DV are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack
  • You may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day. For some nutrients, you may need more or less than 100 percent DV.

The High and Low of Daily Values

  • Low is 5 percent or less. Aim low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • High is 20 percent or more. Aim high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Limit Saturated Fat, Added Sugars and Sodium

Eating less saturated fat, added sugars and sodium may help reduce your risk for chronic disease.

  • Saturated fat and trans fat are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Eating too much added sugar makes it difficult to meet nutrient needs within your calorie requirement.
  • High levels of sodium can add up to high blood pressure.
  • Remember to aim for low percentage DV of these nutrients.

Get Enough Vitamins, Minerals and Fiber

  • Eat more fiber, potassium, vitamin D, calcium and iron to maintain good health and help reduce your risk of certain health problems such as osteoporosis and anemia.
  • Choose more fruits and vegetables to get more of these nutrients.
  • Remember to aim high for percentage DV of these nutrients.

Additional Nutrients

You know about calories, but it is important to also know the additional nutrients on the Nutrition Facts Label.

  • Protein
    A percentage Daily Value for protein is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans and peas, peanut butter, seeds and soy products.
  • Carbohydrates
    There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Eat whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta plus fruits and vegetables.
  • Sugars
    Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, occur naturally in foods such as fruit juice (fructose) and milk (lactose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup. Added sugars will be included on the Nutrition Facts Label in 2018. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars.

Check the Ingredient List

Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Those in the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities, those who wish to avoid pork or shellfish, limit added sugars or people who prefer vegetarian eating.

HealthQuest Lead Ambassador – “Fuel”

Tara Roberson – Tara@healthquest4you.com