How much food are we supposed to eat?
Our Rich Organic Tapestry
Food provides us with vitamins, minerals (including sodium), potential energy (via all the macronutrients), hydration (fluids) and roughage (dietary fibre).
The foods you choose will influence your immune system, brain chemistry, mental and physical performance, digestion and the essential microorganisms that live inside your body (e.g. gut flora).
A percentage of what you consume passes through, but the majority is woven into your very being.
What should I eat?
The universal wisdom is that, if you eat a wide range of wholefoods (minimal processing) including fruits and vegetables, dairy, legumes, lean meat and fish (or equivalent plant protein) and drink plenty of water, you will be well on track to fulfilling your nutritional requirements.
The ‘what to avoid’ list is equally universal: processed foods and drinks that contain added sugar and / or salt, refined grains or excessive fat.
Your body needs ALL the macronutrients so it is not healthy to eliminate or overdose on any one group – but you do have a choice of which foods to eat within each food group. For example, fruits and vegetables are Carbohydrates and are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Pasta and bread are also Carbohydrates, but they fall into the category of ‘refined grains’ and should be minimised.
How much do I need?
As a rule, we tend to overdo salt, protein and sugar.
Excessive salt can cause circulatory problems such as high blood pressure. Too much protein (red meat and shakes) increases acidity in the body, which can leach Calcium from your bones causing Osteoporosis and other skeletal issues.
In terms of energy, we each need to take in a minimum amount of kilojoules every day just to keep our organs and essential body processes humming. This minimum is called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and it is different for everyone depending on age, gender, height, weight, fitness and health status.
Additional energy is required, on top of the BMR, to support brain and physical activity during the day. There is another rate called Estimated Energy Requirement (EER), which is the total amount of energy you will need over a 24-hour period based on your physical characteristics.
EER is calculated by multiplying your BMR by your Personal Activity Level (PAL), which is a scale of how active you are. On average, your essential body processes (BMR) will burn around 70% of your total daily energy intake (EER).
Quantity versus Quality
Potential energy comes into the body from many different sources including Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates.
It is fundamentally important to consider the nutritional quality of your food in combination with the quantity of energy (and nutrients) it will bring in.
Counting kilojoules is a hollow activity if the energy is coming in from unhealthy sources.