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Column: Morinville Physical Therapy answers questions about nutrition

We continue to be committed to improving our skills over at Morinville Physical Therapy in order to better serve our patients. Dana Vinge has just completed a certification in nutrition coaching and is eager to begin helping interested individuals with their nutrition and health goals. Nutrition is an important part of life—we all have to eat, and what we put in our bodies greatly affects our weight, energy levels, organ and tissue health, and overall psyche. So where do we start? Today we are going to go through the 5 most asked questions we get asked about nutrition.

Question 1: I’m new to this whole nutrition thing, where do I start?

A: One of the first steps to learning how to feed your body better is to find out what you’re actually lacking (or deficient) in. 80% of the population has at least one nutritional deficiency, and identifying what you’re missing makes any health or fitness goal more attainable. To eliminate deficiencies the first order of business is finding out what you’re already eating, and then creating workable strategies for rounding out your diet—getting a bit more protein, enough vitamins and minerals, adequate healthy fats, and more water. Once deficiencies are addressed, portions and food quality can be integrated, but it’s important to remember this is a systematic process, it takes time and guidance to gently improve your relationship with food.

Question 2: What’s the best diet to follow?

A: Really, there is no best diet. All dietary protocols have their pros and cons, and what works best for one person might not work best for another. What’s most important is that you’ve found an approach that improves your relationship with food so you can be consistent. It should be manageable for your life logistics and budget and give your body enough of what it needs to stay healthy and perform as you need it to. Nutrition fundamentals emphasize whole foods, getting enough protein, eating lots of vegetables, prioritizing high nutrient density, promoting eating slowly until satisfied, and minimizing processed foods.

Question 3: Is counting calories important for weight loss?

A: Weight management is a simple equation—if you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight. However, the science behind counting calories can be time-consuming, imprecise, and complex. You do not need to count calories in order to see great results in body transformation. There are many other ways to look at food that are less stressful, less time consuming, and focus more on nutrient content than calories.

Question 4: Should I avoid carbs?

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A: No—carbs are an important macronutrient for your body, but you should be making sure you’re getting the right kind of carbs, in the appropriate proportions. Most folks would do best eating a moderate amount of high-quality carbohydrates daily—whole grains, fruit, root vegetables, beans, and legumes can be great sources of vitamins and minerals and help meet your body’s energy demands. Everyone’s carbohydrates requirements may differ, but the bottom line is carbs are not inherently fattening, or bad, particularly in whole food sources.

Question 5: Do sleep habits and stress really affect nutrition?

A: Yes, but the effects can vary from person to person, as do the best sleep and stress management strategies. Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise when we are talking about health, productivity, and body composition. Having good sleep hygiene and healthy sleep habits can be literally life-changing, and is an integral part of happiness and vitality. Stress is all about finding the perfect amount. Too much, or the wrong kind of stress can harm our health, while good stress can be positive, keeping us focused, alert and at optimal performance. Stress affects everyone’s mind and body differently and we all have different recovery times from stress, so finding your optimal stress zone and learning how to recover properly is the best way to stay healthy.

There are hundreds of hard questions about diet and nutrition and all kinds of differing answers, so how do we know what’s right? We get questions from patients all the time, and honestly, the answers can be confusing. The answers to the above questions only scratch the surface of healthy eating, but starting small and working towards big changes is a great place to begin. Changing your diet and your relationship with food doesn’t have to be a big, overwhelming, and instant change where you eliminate large scale foods from your diet altogether. It can be a slow process, with many small achievements along the way. If this has motivated you or piqued your interest and you’d like to know more, please phone the clinic at 780-939-5150 and set up a nutrition consult. We all have to start somewhere.

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