For better or worse, this is Michael's take on eating. I have some areas I'd tweak, but needless to say, we're not battling the Freshmen Fifteen or the bad effects of a steady diet of beer and pizza. Guest post --sans any parental editing--by the college guy:
Since we’re talking about nutrition, I feel it my obligation to confess that I am grossly underqualified to speak about the body or any related subject.
However, I am also an NCAA Division 1 athlete. I run an average of eight miles each day. I have four percent body fat. And I manage it through my diet, however amateur it may be.
students, soccer moms, business executives and weekend warriors all
have a common denominator. They seem to be too tired and too busy all
the time. On average, the American adult gets 6.7 hours of sleep per
If it isn’t sleep habits, then what other habitual practices could possibly effect the body’s energy?
Immediately, diet presents itself. We are a country hooked on instant. Whether it be communication, entertainment or dinner, we love things fast, furious and abbreviated.
However, few realize that fast food kills slowly.
Simple salts and sugars create instant energy for the body. When you’re very hungry, or very tired, you may notice your body craving candy, soda, potato chips or french fries. That’s because these foods have an abundance of either simple salt or sugar. Simple, in the sense that the body can break down and use the salts and sugars almost instantly. The problem is that the energy in these types of foods lasts for only 30 minutes or less. There and gone in an instant.
Imagine you’re building a fire. If you simply light a stack of paper on fire, the fire will burn fast and die faster. But if you combine wood with the paper, and are diligent to the flame, your fire will burn for hours.
Nutrition is the same way.
Your body needs sugar and salt. The trick is finding them in complex forms that offer more than simple energy. The following are some meals and ideas that I’ve found to work. Maybe you hate them; moldy black tea doesn’t appeal to most -- BUT, it works! Or maybe you love them. Love or hate, hopefully it gives you some ideas and some thoughts.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But almost everyone has little time to cook a wholesome, round meal before class or work. Mom always told us to eat a rainbow throughout the day. Really, try to eat a rainbow for every meal. Again, breakfast is on the go so eat some natural fast food.
Peaches, strawberries, plums, pomegranates, bananas, blueberries, apples, oranges, pears, mangos and kiwis. Put any three of these in a blender. Add apple or orange juice. Blend with ice. Super delicious.
These are fruits with some extensive combination of Vitamins C, A and K, potassium, iron, fiber, niacin, and antioxidants and deliciousness.
I just threw out a lot of vitamin jargon. None of it I understood at first. Antioxidants have to be good. So are vitamins. What’s niacin? I eat Special K so I think I’m covered.
To give a brief, and incomplete overview, here are some things to know about some necessary nutrients:
Vitamin C is really good for you. Just google it. It’s a pro-oxidant and an anti-oxidant and it does the moonwalk in your dietary system and makes you feel alright. It boosts your energy and it keeps you healthy. Vitamin C is the Brad Pitt of vitamins. Just dreamy.
Vitamin A is like the middle reliever in a baseball game. You need it to link your starter and your closer. Without it a lot of necessary functions in your body don’t happen. And if you don’t take in enough vitamin A, uh, you go blind. Vitamin A is necessary for the following functions:
▪ Gene transcription
▪ Immune function
▪ Embryonic development and reproduction
▪ Bone metabolism
▪ Skin health
▪ Reducing risk of heart disease
▪ Antioxidant Activity
Vitamin K helps get rid of bruising, fight Alzheimer's disease, liver cancer and helps promote calcium bonding. I broke my nose last fall and boosted my vitamin K and calcium intake. The bone was supposed to take two months to heal. It took two weeks.
Niacin deficiency is characterized by fatigues, irritability, slow metabolism, poor concentration and anxiety. Be happy. Get that niacin.
So you have blender full of this goodness. Before you blend add some spinach. Why? Because spinach is God’s vegetable. Seriously. Pretty much everything you need to survive can be found in raw spinach. Vitamin A, B, C, K, B6 and B12, thiamin, magnesium, fiber, zinc, iron, riboflavin, potassium and protein are all found in spinach.
After you add your spinach, add a tablespoon of flaxseed powder. A tablespoon of flaxseed will give you 25% of your daily value of calcium and iron. Flaxseed also is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 which promote brain function and reduce depression.
Okay, now you can blend that nutritional dynamo and enjoy.
For most people, that should offer a substantial, healthful option to start the day. If you are more active, or require a little more substance, couple the smoothie with a piece of toast and a hard-boiled egg. I timed myself this morning and it took me seven minutes for the smoothie, a minute for the toast and two minutes for the egg which I had boiled the night before.
Breakfast is a big deal because it lays the foundation for the rest of your day. If you don’t get the nutrients you need to function for the day in the morning, the rest of your day will be spent trying to make up for the ground you’ve lost. Your body will be trying to carry out functions and burning reserve nutrients. As a result, you get tired, depleted and grumpy because you’re low in everything.
Assuming you’ve eaten well for breakfast, lunch and dinner are simply a continuation and extension of what you’ve started in the morning.
Again, lunchtime can be a rush for everyone. The night before, usually I make myself a salad. But it isn’t a girlie salad ripe with green stuff. And it isn’t your fat uncle Bill’s salad soaked in salt and Thousand Island dressing.
Take a can of white tuna, drained and rinsed. Add spinach, black beans, diced avocado and tomatoes. Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. You are now eating a protein and fiber-rich, essential fatty-acid meal that will fill you up and never let you down; somewhat similar but decidedly different from a Bud Light commercial.
The tuna is almost pure protein. The black beans are the preeminent source of fiber. Avocado has Omega-3s and Omega-6s. The tomatoes continue your Vitamin-C intake -- let’s face it, you really can never have enough Vitamin-C.
Why the olive oil and balsamic vinegar? Because together they’re delicious!
Come dinner time, I’m usually starving. My go to is some kind of grilled meat or fish (steak, chicken or salmon), coupled with rice or potatoes, a slice of artisan bread and a small salad.
The steak and chicken give you more protein. Rice and potatoes give you starch and carbohydrates which are great in promoting energy. The bread is another source of carbohydrates.
The salad gives essential vitamins and minerals. Usually, I make it with spinach, pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries, tomatoes, sliced almonds, and Kalamata olives. Pomegranates offer some sweetness and are high in Vitamin-C and antioxidants. Dried cranberries pretty much offer no benefit -- but they’re cheaper than pomegranates. Kalamata olives are nutritionally worthless as well, but they add flavor without a lot of sodium or cholesterol.
Now, I eat way more than what I’ve mentioned above. That’s a result of the amount of time I spend exercising, which is upwards of three hours per day. Personally, an easy way of getting positive calories is to drink an eight-ounce glass of whole milk and eat a tablespoon of raw peanut butter in between meals. Protein and fat. It boosts my energy and stays my appetite till lunch or dinner.
Finally, every Monday I drink a bottle of kombucha (kom-BOO-chuh). Here is a my kombucha apology and you can agree or disagree or question. The stuff is almost magical.
Kombucha is a living culture of beneficial microorganisms. Kombucha is made through the fermentation of black tea using a kombucha culture, otherwise known as mold or mushroom. Active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols are created during the fermentation process. Kombucha is NOT a drug nor is it a cure for anything. But, it is simply a super healthy food that helps the body to find (or regain) its natural balance in the body, which promotes overall well being. Essentially, if your body is regulated and calm, you’re healthier. And if you’re healthy, you’re not sick. Try it. You’ll understand.