by Meagan Stachnik
Chiropractic students will undergo various nutrition classes and health studies on how to appropriately guide patients in their quest for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Chiropractors should be practicing what we preach but how does a student who is currently in crippling debt, have zero spare time and live in an environment where the housing market could be considered exponential, truly live a healthy lifestyle? We need resources that are sustainable and don’t break the bank.
What benefits does a balanced diet provide?
Well for starters, it prevents disease and infection, such as cardiovascular disease. Our body utilizes and processes the necessary vitamins and minerals through the blood and tissues without blockage or depletion of essential nutrients. An added benefit is the ability to control weight. If we limit processed foods and continue with a balanced diet, we are able to control weight variability for the long term. Researchers state that 90% of our exercise regime should be focused on the kitchen while the 10% is truly exercise-based. When we nourish our bodies post-workout we are replenishing our body stores correctly and providing ample opportunity to increase energy and limit fatigue. If we do not fulfill the needs of our tissues, we limit our body’s ability to recover and heal. Finally, we need to nourish one of the most important organs in our bodythe brain. When we provide adequate nutrition, the brain can revert into more of a parasympathetic state instead of a constant sympathetic attempt to replenish the missing nutrients. The brain releases hormones that allow our bodies to grow and function which for children are one of the most important aspects. When the brain is continuously fighting to keep our bodies afloat, we could slip into a depressive or high anxiety state which limits our normal processing. We could fall into fatigue, high levels of stress, insomnia, have issues with our physical growth and potentially become immunocompromised. People can live a longer, more fulfilling life as a healthier diet sustains their systems to the fullest extent.
What does a balanced diet look like?
Fruits and Vegetables- Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal or snack (e.g. leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, avocado or blueberries). Whole grain foods- Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grain foods. These include crackers, wild rice, quinoa and oatmeal. Grains contain fibre, protein and B vitamins. Protein- Fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods. These include: legumes, nuts seeds, tofu, fish, and kefir. Water- At a minimum, men should drink approximately 15.5 cups (3.7 L) of water per day and women should consume approximately 11.5 cups (2.7 L) of water. Increase water intake based on exercise and environmental factors.
How to have a balanced diet on a budget.
1. Grocery Outlet- groceries for a fraction of the price with a selection of brand items sold at more expensive health food stores, for example, whole foods.
2. Frozen fruit and vegetables- If you are attempting to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption try frozen items first. They are less expensive and handle long term storage until you can maintain your healthy habit.
3. Smoothies are a great go-to and you can pre package smoothie bags in the freezer or fridge either pre-blended or not. When you are running behind, pour the bag into the blender or a cup with a choice of liquid (oat milk, almond milk, water) and walk out the door.
4. Farmers Markets- Markets are a great way to purchase food with low pesticide contaminants and you can learn a lot about care for the food. Near the end of the market time, vendors will want to take the minimum amount of food back with them and will haggle with you for the right price.
5. This is the time to grow your own garden- This could be a kitchen counter herb garden or one or two vegetables you regularly consume like tomatoes. Plant life also helps detoxify the air around you.
6. Track your local favorite food establishments for their meal deals. Taco Tuesday can be upgraded to become a healthier alternative.
7. Budget your meal and adapt to the budget. Don’t really want to eat rice today? Lentils are a huge budget friendly alternative to meals. You can throw anything into a pot or pan and create either soup, stew, hash or stir fry to finish off those lingering leftovers you are not sure what to do with. All four of those are budget friendly and you can have meals for a few days following.
Tips and tricks to eating healthier:
Plan a meal guide each week and where to get the items. Meal prep and include your friends and family when the day arrives. Prep easy to go snacks and buy decent food containers to package your meals. This includes making your breakfast and lunch the day before when you have a busy day ahead of you. Choose recipes that have a high amount of fruit or vegetables allowing you to consume more in one meal. A stir fry would be a great option. Avoid sugary drinks. Drink water when you feel hungry (mild dehydration can be confused for hunger) Invest in a crockpot or instant pot- throw food in and you do not have to worry about it for an hour-perfect time saver.