The Culture of Eating
By Jim Wilson
Personal Fitness Trainer and Owner of Physique Magnifique
Of the many elements involved in a complete health and fitness program as well as in competitive athletics, diet by far seems to be one of the most challenging areas for lots of people. Sometimes it’s because old habits are hard to break and people are reluctant to try something new and different, while other times it’s because what’s suggested is completely foreign to “normal lifestyle” eating behaviors. When you think about it, most eating behaviors revolve around culture. For example, in everyday life, the culture of fast food seems to attract the most popular votes from people on the go. Also, depending on the national origins of the people there are various eating cultures. Even during the holiday season, the culture of eating will vary depending on the community. For example, good ‘ole rib-stickin’ foods such as turkey and dressing, ham, candied yams, black-eyed peas, cornbread, fried chicken, peach cobbler, sweet potato pie, and pecan pie are common holiday foods that I grew up with in my community.
In the world of exercise and fitness, the culture of eating can become much more complicated than it needs to be and can change from one minute to the next. One minute it’s no carb, high protein, high fat, and the next minute it’s low carb, moderate protein, low fat, and on and on. Then there are the ready-made foods that are created to hopefully take the guesswork out of which foods are best for optimum health and nutrition, and hopefully save time in preparation. Those foods can range from healthy fast foods (if there is such a thing), to frozen meals, TV dinners and a variety of meal replacement drinks and food supplements. On top of all this, everyone is looking for the “easiest” and “fastest” way to get results.
While all of the above are great attempts to obtain a healthy eating lifestyle, many beginning fitness enthusiasts still fall short of gaining success. As a full-time personal trainer and gym owner, I am constantly in search of different food varieties and motivational ways to accommodate the needs of my clients and members.
One method that I have found to be successful is to have each person document his or her eating program and identify all of the foods he or she likes to eat. This usually helps to develop a basic format from which to make some conscious eating decisions. Our recent incorporation of a program that has access to a huge database of nutritional information has helped tremendously in making such conscious decisions.
The next step is to identify which of the foods documented are snack foods and which are foods that offer better nutritional value. If it walks, swims, flies, or grows in soil, it can be considered real food. When you shop for groceries, shop around the perimeter of the store because that is usually where all the real food such as meats, dairies, fruits and vegetables can be found. Most all of the other foods in the aisles are frozen or processed. And of course, never go shopping on an empty stomach as this most often results in choosing snack foods over more wholesome foods.
Finally, when preparing the meals, plan ahead. For example, try to cook enough food to last at least several days. It also helps to pack all the meals for the next day into separate containers so that they are ready to be simply micro-waved and eaten as needed.
I hope that this article will help you in starting a health-conscious diet to kick-off the New Year.
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