Often times, when we hear the term diet, we think of a weight loss program or some type of food restrictions. Very rarely do we associate the term “diet” with “nutrition.” As a result, we find ourselves on one or a combination of these 3 diets listed below without considering nutritional quality, quantity, balance, long term effects or effectiveness.
Because our goal is always to empower you to make BetterChoices, we think it is important for you to understand a few terms before we discuss these 3 diets.
- Diet: the foods and beverages a person eats and drinks.
- Nutrition: the science of the nutrients in foods and their actions within the body.
- Foods: products derived from plants and animals that can be taken into the body to yield energy (fuel) and nutrients for the maintenance of life and growth and repair of tissues.
- Chronic Disease: diseases characterized by slow progression and long duration. (ex. heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers)
So, when you think about your diet, think about the foods and beverages you consume every day. When you think about nutrition or when you hear us say nutritional balance, think of the nutrients (vitamins/minerals) that you get from food and understand they have a connection to every cell in your body. Lastly, when you think about food, think about food in terms of sustainability and direct influence over your overall health and wellness.
Take some time and think about your current diet habits, daily nutritional intake, and food preferences. Are you fueling health or feeding disease?
Take a few minutes and consider these 3 diets that are slowly and silently changing lives.
1. Carcinogenic Diet (Cancer)
>Low fruit and vegetable intake
Low level of antioxidants (especially vitamins A & C)
Low intake of whole grains and fiber
High dietary fat intake
Nitrosamines, burnt and charred food
High intakes of pickled and fermented food
High animal-food, low plant-food intake
2. Atherogenic Diet (Heart Disease)
High saturated fat (>10% caloric intake)
Trans-fatty acid intake
Dietary cholesterol intake >300mg
>Low fruit and vegetable intake
Low intake of whole grains
No or excess alcohol intake
High sodium intake
Low potassium intake
Low intake of milk or dairy foods
High waist circumference (men >40 inches / women >35 inches)
3. Obesogenic Diet (Obesity)
Caloric intake exceeds needs
>Frequent fast-food consumption
High fat intake
Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption
Energy-dense, low-nutrient food choices
*Atherogenic/Obesogneic Diets (Diabetes/type II)
This is a harsh reality but the truth is, each of these diets are related to the “onset and severity of five of the ten leading causes of death in adults – cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and liver disease. Each of these chronic diseases have risk factors that CAN be modified through changes in lifestyle, nutrition, and physical activity.
Notice the “and” part in that last sentence. Health is a balance of your daily habits, nutritional balance, and physical activity. Once you find the right nutritional balance, weight loss and sustainability of that weight loss will take care of itself. It’s more important for you to gain control over your lifestyle habits. Your lifestyle habits include being more mindful and intentional about your daily nutritional intake and physical activity.
Remember, the food choices you make will benefit or impair your health in proportion to the wisdom of your food choices.
We can not reiterate how valuable your daily nutritional intake is to your overall health and wellness. Now, not later, is the time to begin making small, simple changes every day that will yield big results.
Eric and Maleka Beal are health coaches and co-founders of BetterChoices, a health & wellness company and social community focused on educating, advocating, and promoting better health and wellness through lifestyle, nutrition, and fitness education.