Energy on your plate: Nine tips for getting more nutrients
I sometimes say in jest: I don’t count calories but nutrients. Of course they cannot be counted, but I do mean seriously that I pay attention to whether I get enough variety in nutrients. Only plenty of variation will continue to give me plenty of energy in the long run. Incidentally, there are many nutrients that we do not yet know. Nutritional science is only in its infancy; they discover new substances in apples and pears every day. Fortunately, those apples and pears themselves know what substances are needed to make them into an apple or a pear.
Adequate nutrition is not the same as a healthy diet
For a long time we thought that it didn’t really matter what you actually ate, as long as you took in enough calories to maintain a normal weight and didn’t eat too much, because then you would get fat. And if you want to lose weight: just limit calories and you’re done. Simple, right? So no! It makes a big difference which types of food you mainly eat. It is not only about calories, but also about all the substances that you ingest together, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, plant substances, fiber etc. Also for your weight.
There are several reasons why it cannot be taken for granted that with adequate nutrition you also feel healthy and energetic. It could be the type of food you choose, the ratio of the macronutrients carbohydrates, proteins and fats or a lack of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. This can be made worse by the lack of nutrients in the soil on which our crops are often grown today.
Energy on your plate, how do you do that?
You can boost your health and energy if you make sure that every bite you take contains as many nutrients as possible so that your body is actually getting everything it needs. Often you automatically get less need for ’empty calories’, so calories and nothing else for good nutrients such as sweets. Feeding yourself well can ensure that you can suddenly lose weight while you previously did not succeed. Or that instead of feeling lethargic and tired you suddenly start to feel much more energetic and vital again, because all systems in your body start working better again. Your body simply needs all those substances to keep you healthy and vital.
So often consuming empty calories is not such a good plan, because your body continues to crave ‘real’ food, which in turn does not get it if you only have a march or a hamburger, or even a white sandwich with eat cheese to satisfy your hunger. In this way your body continues to ‘whine’ about real food: you give it filling without giving it nutritional value. But what then? Here are nine tips to ensure more nutritional value on your plate and thus energy in your body.
1. Organic makes sense
For starters, make sure to buy whole, organic foods that are full of healthy nutrients whenever possible. A meta-analysis of 343 studies showed that there were clear differences between the composition of organically grown foods and conventionally grown foods. Compared to conventionally grown plant foods, organically grown foods were found to contain much higher levels of antioxidants such as poly phenols, flavones and flavonols. Many studies have associated these chemicals with a lower risk of a variety of diseases, including stroke, certain types cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Residues of pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium were found much less in organically grown crops. Because much more cultivation is done in the open field in organic cultivation, using natural compost instead of chemical pesticides, the soil life there is relatively much healthier and this is reflected in the nutritional value of the products.
The organic variants also contain more healthy nutrients and fewer harmful substances for animal products. It often contains more healthy omega 3 fatty acids and the ratio between omega 3 and 6 is also better.
I often hear that organic food is so expensive. On the other hand, your body needs less to become saturated and is very happy with all the healthy substances it ingests! So if you want to eat healthier, start by opting for organic as much as possible and also for as much vegetable as possible. And eat with the seasons, that saves your wallet!
2. Green smoothies to chew
A green smoothie gives you a delicious boost of healthy nutrients. Make your smoothie with lots of organic green leafy vegetables, some fruit, and add some extra healthy fats and proteins like avocado, nuts, seeds and seeds. Easy and delicious! Because you use everything and do not squeeze any juice, you also retain the fiber. It is best to make the smoothie so thick that it actually becomes more of a ‘drinking salad’ that you really have to chew on. This allows for a slower digestion and better nutrient absorption. I often transfer a green smoothie from my blender into a deep bowl and eat it with a spoon. Do you have no ideas for tasty and healthy smoothies or drinking salads? Examples for this can be found in my e-book Drink salads, click here.
3. Healthy snacks
I recommend eating about 5 to 7 servings of vegetables every day, about 350-500 grams in total. Preferably even more. When you consider that only a quarter of Dutch adults even achieve the official guideline of 200 grams of vegetables per day, that is quite a challenge for many people. You can achieve this by also having vegetables as a snack to start. For example a few carrots, tomatoes, celery, red pepper or pieces of cucumber, possibly with some tasty hummus, nut butters or tahini. I regularly snack with these kinds of vegetables with a nice lick of nut butters or (homemade) pesto or hummus.
4. Less filling, more nutrition
Some types of food are filling but give our body few nutrients, so that we quickly get hungry again. These are the so-called ’empty’ calories such as refined starch products such as bread, pasta, chips, (breakfast) biscuits and crackers. They do fill for a while, but they give your body far too few real nutrients, especially in the form of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and healthy plant substances.
If you want to feel nice and full but also get enough of those substances, then rather take some more starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and beet. The starch ensures that you are nicely saturated and that you do not get hungry again too quickly. You can also replace regular pasta or rice with, for example, zucchini pasta or cauliflower rice. And an avocado is always great. Simple, fast, tasty and nutritious!
5. Nuts and seeds
Sprinkle some mineral-rich nuts, seeds and / or kernels in salads, in your breakfast or with lunch. Think of chia seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds , pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews or walnuts. The nuts and seeds also provide healthy proteins and fats in your meal. Make a mix of nuts and seeds in a glass jar, then you can always get something out of it. If you first briefly roast in a frying pan, they will become just that little bit better. Also consider coconut flakes.
6. Extra vegetables with every meal
Change the way you compose your dishes by starting from now on more and more vegetables instead of letting the choice depend on which carbohydrates or proteins you want. Plan your meal so that half or more consists of vegetables. If that makes you panic, start with a quarter of the vegetables on your plate. An easy option to start is, for example, a mixture of (pre) sliced vegetables and stir-fry, with some meat or egg and wholemeal rice, if necessary, but then always reduce the proportion of carbohydrates (less rice or pasta for example) and increase the following times. the share of vegetables, until you have more than half of the vegetables on your plate!
7. More energy; also with your breakfast
Many people eat the same breakfast every day. Nice and easy of course. Every day bread, a few crackers or a breakfast with muesli or cruesli. Even if you have a healthy oatmeal breakfast with fresh fruit and nuts every day, that’s not the best option. Variety is healthier, especially if you add vegetables to your breakfast more often. Make a green smoothie or ‘drinking salad’ with lots of (leaf) vegetables, some fruit and avocado, or bake a tasty frittata with lots of vegetables, Eggs and vegetable milk. Do you need recipes for inspiration? In my e-book Optimal Breakfast you will find enough examples, click here!
8. Add vegetable proteins
Many people suffer from sugar peaks and troughs; they feel shaky and light-headed, sometimes an hour after the previous meal, and then have the feeling that something has to be eaten immediately. Often people then resort to the fast carbohydrates, with which the cycle of first a peak and increase in energy and then a quick valley again with sudden fatigue and drowsiness continues. Ultimately, this pattern leads to insulin resistance and then to diabetes.
Break this vicious circle by maintaining a stable blood sugar level. You can do this by adding healthy proteins to your meal. These ensure that your food is absorbed and digested more slowly and that you feel satiated for longer. Good vegetable sources of protein include legumes such as beans, peas and lentils, unroasted nuts and seeds such as hemp or chia seeds, or quinoa. If you still want to eat animal protein now and then, choose (organic) fish, meat and eggs, but it is better for your health to get as much as possible from vegetable sources.
9. More color on your plate gives more energy
The more color on your plate, the better, because different colors of fruit and vegetables also contain different important nutrients. More color therefore contributes to more ‘density’ of the nutrients you consume. For example, the beautiful color of red cabbage comes from the so-called anthocyanins and the bright red color of tomatoes comes from lycopene. These and other plant substances all have different positive effects on our health. Colorful vegetable foods such as beets, pomegranates, turmeric, spinach, cabbage and sweet potato are all very high in antioxidants. Eat all the colors of the rainbow and you will notice it in your energy level!
If you find this article valuable for your health and vitality, please help spread it by sharing it with other women. This can be done by means of the social media buttons above. I also always like it when you leave a comment: what do you do to get more variety of nutrients on your plate?