Well, here we are, it’s October already and those cool fall days are upon us and that innate mechanism which causes many of us to “conserve” our calories is revving up.
While you can’t compare a body to a diesel engine, you can analogize their inner workings and performance based on the type of fuel used and regular maintenance.
Many of us become more sedentary than normal in the fall and winter months.
We tend to consume more calories, while we burn fewer.
To define active; you are exercising four to five times per week, with a nice balance between cardiovascular conditioning and muscle strengthening (let me remind you that work, while tiring, is not exercise).
Sedentary really just means doing very little in general.
Most of our readers will be between these two lifestyles, as our busy schedules do not allow for a great deal of free time to get out and exercise.
I will discuss this at greater length in a future issue.
My goal for this issue is to educate our readers about what types of fuel our bodies need to function optimally and avoid “engine” breakdowns.
Again, many of you are likely wondering why I am talking about nutrition, and not about back problems.
I am trying to help you build a healthy foundation upon which to build a healthy lifestyle.
This will help enhance your physical and mental health and may help reduce the number of sick days or injury recovery days you take, which translates into dollars saved and earned.
A basic view of your digestive system is this.
A hollow tube, open at both ends, and separate from your other body systems. Your body uses fuel that is measured in Calories, and the food we consume can also be measured as such. One gram of: Fat = 9 Kcal (K…yes 1,000’s…remember we are powering billions of cells, 24/7!); Protein = 4 Kcal; Carbohydrate = 4 Kcal. So, this is the price of your fuel, and if you take a serving size of something like 28 grams of chips…20 grams of Carbs, 8 grams of fat, 0 gram of protein.
The total is (20×4)+(8×9)=152 Calories (Calories with a big “C” = Kcal).
You may also appreciate that this is a universal standard, so it is actually a fuel that the government can’t tax!
Of course we can’t just count calories, we also have to look at whether they are healthy calories or not…in other words, balance.
I am not going to get more technical, like types of fats or sugars (carbs), my goal is to provide the foundation upon which you can start to eat better in order to function better.
Now, you can determine your activity level, count calories in your meal (most food has calorie count and content on the back of the packaging or you can find values online), and next you must determine what to eat and how much!
This is by far the most difficult step at first, but with each meal and each day, it gets easier until it is second nature.
You should eat five to six small meals each day.
Eat breakfast within one hour of awakening and a meal or snack every four hours throughout the day to keep your metabolism going and blood sugars stable.
I find weighing foods is not necessary, although reading nutritional labels is essential.
Try not to get caught up in anything too complicated – like weighing foods. Simply use your hand as a guide.
The palm of the hand (circumference and thickness) = one protein serving (red meat-use 1/2 the palm of your hand). One fist (1 1/4 cups) = fruit serving (carbohydrate). Two fists (2-4 cups) = vegetable serving (carbohydrate).
Tip of the thumb (1 tsp.) = one fat serving.
A typical meal should contain two servings of carbohydrates, one serving of protein, and one serving of fat.
If your body frame is large, you may need double this amount, still the balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins must be maintained.
The actual amount that you consume will depend on your body size and whether this is a main meal or snack.
Remember the key is to keep portions balanced even when eating snacks.
Here are some principles to help you enjoy food and keep you on track:
Be careful not to take in too many high-glycemic carbohydrates with any particular meal especially when eating out.
Don’t eat bread, potatoes, and dessert all at the same meal. In fact, recent research reveals it would be best to avoid high-glycemic foods all together.
Be creative with your snacks and be sure that they contain the right balance of good carbohydrates, good fat, and good protein.
Always have healthy snacks readily available.
If you don’t, you will eat whatever is around when you get hungry.
Purchase lean bars, balance bars, and lean drinks, which already have the proper balance and have them readily available.
You will tend to have some withdrawal from a high carbohydrate diet.
However, once you become consistent with this diet you will feel much better with a marked increase in energy.
Examples of high-glycemic foods are things like white rice, potatoes, candies, chocolate bars, syrups, things made with white flour and refined (white) sugars, corn starch, noodles, etc.
I am not advocating that you should stop eating carbohydrates, as they are essential to life, but rather look for alternatives to the processed foods and try whole-wheat noodles or bread and eat fruits instead of candies or chocolate.
Hopefully this article has held some appeal to you.
I know that in your industry it is even more difficult to find a healthy meal and a schedule by which to maintain some consistency in your diets, but I want to urge you to really make an effort and commit to making a change for yourselves for at least three months (Yes, this will take you through the toughest months of the year).
If you have any health conditions please consult your medical doctor or health care specialist before starting any type of new diet plan or eating regimen.
Remember, it took a great deal of time for you to get to your present state, so you should not expect big changes to occur in a short time.
Next month we will start to discuss common workplace injuries relevant to the industry, and some strategies for their prevention and remedy.
Have a great month and drive safely!
– Dr. Marc Blackstone is a chiropractor at City Health Chiropractic & Massage located in the RoadKing Travel Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Any questions or comments may be directed to him through his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 403-204-1205 or Toll-Free at 1-866-466-0026. You may also view this article and others on the clinic Web site: www.cityhealthchiropractic.com