Healthy New Year…With a Dash of Danger
In NFCA’s January 2011 newsletter, which we just released yesterday, I asked a few of our favorite gluten-free athletes to share their “Tips for a Healthy New Year.” One of my favorite tips was Pete Bronski’s suggestion to work out they way you like. If you’re not a fan of the gym, try tennis or yoga. If you prefer treadmills, then by all means, hit the machines.
For my part, I’ve made it a goal to run more. I’m an avid power-walker, but I needed some extra oomph to break my stride. My new motivation? The Warrior Dash. It’s a 3.5-mile run in the woods, over cars, through a swamp and up a hill. There are even some nets and tunnels involved. I signed up on a whim and now it’s my number one reason to run, run, run whenever I lace up some sneakers.
Of course, being healthy isn’t just about exercise. A balanced diet is also key to achieving your self-improvement goals in this “Year of You.”
To help you along, here are additional “Tips for a Healthy New Year” from Pete and Erin, with an emphasis on balanced eating. Read up, then tell us what your plans are to make 2011 the “Year of You.” (For more inspiration, follow NFCA’s “Athletes for Awareness” blog.)
- If you’re staring into your pantry and refrigerator, wondering what to eat to fuel your body during workouts, stick to the basics. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. Your body needs protein to build muscle, and carbs to fuel those muscles with energy. Prior to a workout, try eating some easily digestible carbohydrates for an extra boost. Rice, potatoes, corn and quinoa are all excellent gluten-free sources of carbohydrates.
Not sure where to start in tackling a healthy gluten-free way of eating? Think of it as putting premium fuel in your tank. Focus on whole, naturally gluten-free foods to make up the majority of your meals. You don’t have to replace gluten-filled products with gluten-free ones; instead, try eating a bit differently:
- Fruits and vegetables. In their natural state, fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. Expand your horizons and try something new. Get at least one serving with every meal, hopefully more. Need a snack? Grab an apple and some nuts instead of reaching for a processed cracker. Try drinking a glass of water and eating a small to medium sized apple before each meal, or when you are feeling “snackish.” You’ll be surprised how much this will cut your hunger and allow you to make smart choices for your meal.
- Meats, poultry and fish. These are your primary protein sources. In their natural state, all meats and fish are naturally gluten-free. Don’t be afraid to cook in bulk a couple days a week and have leftovers to last you for a day or two.
- Healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and nut butters. These are great flavorful additions to any item (and good right out of the jar!), but are very calorie-dense. If you are trying to gain weight, this is a good thing, so use them liberally. If you are trying to slim down, use these in moderation and watch those serving sizes!
- Naturally gluten-free starchy carbohydrates. Consider the many varieties of potatoes, rice, quinoa, amaranth and millet. Eat these in moderation if you are not active, especially if you are attempting to slim down.
Weight Loss vs. Weight Gain:
- If you’re dealing with unexpected weight loss or gain while recovering from celiac disease, don’t fret. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise will help your body find its new, natural equilibrium weight. Help your body find that “new you” by staying away from overly-processed, pre-packaged gluten-free foods, and opt instead for whole gluten-free grains, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and whole meats and fish.
- The main key with weight gain or weight loss lies in what and how much you eat. Calorie amount is the first consideration when you are manipulating your body weight and body fat level. Calorie quality is a very close #2. You need to have an appropriate level of calories from quality food, which supply you with nutrients you need. If you are trying to lose weight, it won’t matter how much you exercise if you continue to eat more calories than you are expending. The opposite is true with gaining weight.
- Get acquainted with serving sizes. Purchase a food scale if you wish. You don’t have to weigh and measure your food, but you do have to have an idea of what and how much you are eating. Speak with a dietitian or nutritional consultant if you need help.