Simple nutrition 3 - Meal planning
Blog 3: Meal planning
To start this 3rd instalment in our simple nutrition blog series, I’d like you to look at the lead image showing the companies that own all the world’s ‘food brands’ (a larger version is available here) and try to find which of these provide high nutrition. Any luck? I didn’t think so. How are these companies, that own most of the food products we devour, helping us to consume nutrition?
It clearly demonstrates how the marketing departments at large corporations look to persuade us to consume their products and how they try to dupe us with their advertising, for example they will state that this drink, bar, packet gives you energy. Should we be looking at food in this way? Or should the question be “where’s the nutrition?”
Whilst you can guess what this instalment is about from the title, I should give you a warning. I am not going to tell you exactly what you should eat and when, there are literally thousands of fad diet books and pseudo nutritionists out there bombarding you with what you should and shouldn’t eat just go into Waterstones and see how many nutrition books there are. No, what I will say, and this is backed up by the science, is that nutrition is individual, which means that which may work for one person might not mean it works for you. That said, and if you haven’t understood this by now you’ve not been reading these blogs properly, if you eat nutrient dense food with less sugar, drink water not fizzy or sports drinks and generally move about and lift heavy stuff (heavy for you and your skill level) then you’ll be probably be on the right track to being healthier. Only position of health can you start to become a better athlete.
One thing I will comment on is calories, as the world is completely obsessed by blooming calories! The worst thing to ever happen to nutrition, other than the U.S food pyramid*, was people talking about “you can’t eat this food because it is high in calories and high calorie food makes you fat” No, no, no, no, nooooo!!!! Nobody should look at food in this way, this just makes it even more confusing. Athletes in particular should never have to worry about calories as to be a great athlete you shouldn’t think about calorie consumption. Your thought process should be as follows: Do I know where this food is from? Is it full of nutrition (i.e. not full of sugar and processed ingredients)? Does this food make me feel good afterwards? Yes, to all 3? Then eat it. Don’t eat for fuel or energy, there is bundles of “energy” in cake, but have you ever seen a fat, cake eating person with bundles or energy???!
I do understand that when at school/college/work that our choices are limited however it comes down to being prepared. Either you prepare your food yourself in advance (and by reading these last few blogs and taking the time to work out what works for, you will help you make better choices) or you are prepared to speak up to those in charge of school/college/work environments in order to make changes. If you don’t want to do this alone then find like minded people that will help, speak to school councils, HR departments etc.
There are, however, foods that evidence suggests you should not be eating:
Breakfast cereal: Not only are most cereals crammed full of sugar, they always offer very little nutritional value, so much so that they have to be fortified with vitamins! See the attached document for more information on this and prepared to be shocked...
Lunch: Fast food aka fake food, pre-prepared, highly processed sandwiches/wraps/ are a big no!
Dinner: Large portions of pasta or rice, while these foods are ok in moderation do not make them the principal ingredient.
Pre/post training – see the attached document for more information on ready to drink shakes. If you are going to make something for training, ensure that the sugar content is low, and the nutrient content is high.
Our development philosophy of Prepare, Progress, Perform also can be used to contextualise this information. Prepare – by learning to listen to their body and prepare their own food using high quality ingredients, in tandem with mental and physical preparation, the athlete builds underlying principles in order to form long term habits. Progress – The athlete, from a foundation of health can now start to further progress and develop their physical and mental qualities. Perform – Educated, self-aware and healthier athletes can train more frequently, get more from their training and ultimately perform better.
The attached document provides a little more information. Hopefully, by following the simple guidelines in this series of blogs, we have assisted your ability to make informed decisions on your nutrition. If you feel you require any further information on meal planning or to discuss your nutritional or training requirements, please do get in touch.
*Designed to control people and ensure that there was enough food for the burgeoning population. How can countries feed a large populous on high quality, nutrient dense food? They simply can’t so let’s simply give the people the cheap stuff that even the animals don’t want to eat.