During the pandemic, many of us had more time for self-reflection than usual. Early on, when we were spending almost all our time at home, we tackled long-delayed projects, spent more family time and did more home cooking. Now that commerce is returning to normal, I hope we will retain some of the food habits we developed when we were cocooned at home.

Specifically, I want to give you five words that I hope will help motivate you to make permanent changes in your food life. As you think about these five words, you will see a new pathway that was always there, but you just weren’t looking at it. And following this easy pathway will lead to a new and better you.

The Five words: Nourishing is Different from Eating

We must all eat to survive, but nourishing is different from eating. Nourishing involves eating foods that help you perform, feel and look your best, and help your children develop both physically and mentally to their full potential. When you eat foods loaded with empty calories and inferior ingredients, you aren’t helping your body perform at its highest level and aren’t acting to
preserve your health. You instead land yourself on an emotional and energetic roller coaster that eventually leads to a reduced quality of life. In the United States, most of us are fortunate to have access to a wide range of plentiful foods – why not choose foods that nourish and help you thrive?

Nourishment Throughout the Life Cycle

Nourishing is important in all stages of life. From in the womb through to your twilight years, each phase of life presents different opportunities and challenges and requirements on your body. What you eat directly affects how you develop as a child, what you are able to accomplish in your adult life, and how you feel and manage disease as you age.

Nourished Children Grow into Thriving Adults

Good nutrition is especially critical in the early years when the body is developing and growing at an astonishing rate. Sixty percent of all nourishment during the first year of a child’s life goes toward brain development! Nutrition has a major impact on whether a child develops to reach their full potential. It is the single greatest – controllable – influence on babies in the womb and
during infancy. Undernourishment during this critical time may influence brain development and negatively impact future cognitive and social ability, school success and productivity. Studies show that children who suffer from early malnutrition (ages 0 to 5) have poorer IQ levels, cognitive function and school achievement, as well as greater behavioral problems than children who are adequately nourished. And this early lack of nutrition has consequences into adulthood. Even children who are well fed can experience nutritional gaps when the food they eat is devoid of necessary nutrients.

The Importance of Nourishment into Adulthood

As adults, nourishing foods help you perform and feel your best physically and emotionally, and support your health so you can live a long, successful life. Eating nutrient-rich foods helps protect your health and boosts your immune system so you recover quicker when you do get sick. For seniors, nourishing foods are essential to successful aging, maintaining a high quality of life and
minimizing the effects of disease and disability.

Nourishing is not difficult. You start by eating 3 nutrient groups and minimize or eliminate 4 other groups. That is only 7 things you have to learn to start enjoying a richer quality of life! Let’s get started on making these simple changes.

Start putting these three nutrient groups in your meal plan:

• Lean protein – chicken, fish, lean cuts of beef and pork, eggs and cheese, beans and legumes
• Slow carbs – carbs from vegetables, fruits and whole grains
• Healthy fats – expeller-pressed, organic fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil; butter and other dairy in moderation

Make sure you are eating real food that is as close as possible to how it was grown or raised.

Now start minimizing these four groups:

• Added sugar – 50% comes from the liquids we drink
• Fast carbs – refined grains used in snack foods, cakes, cookies, white bread and buns, etc.
• Bad fats – partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated fats (man-made) and heat-refined, damaged fats from otherwise good sources
• Added chemicals, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and excess sodium

If it is processed food or fast food, it is not nourishing you. With the exception of frozen vegetables, if it comes in a bag, box or can it probably isn’t your friend. Avoiding foods that are full of empty calories and inferior ingredients is the first step towards a better you.

Once you start looking at food this new way and make this a regular part of your life, you can begin to refine your plan to meet your specific needs. Focusing on various nutrients will help you reduce stress, decrease inflammation and body pain, and improve energy, mental clarity, and your immune system. By learning what these nutrients are and what foods contain them, you can build your individual food strategy.

Now you know the secret. Today is the first day in the rest of your life. Start nourishing and stop just feeding yourself and you will love the way you feel!