Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Meat and Potatoes

By Dale ‘Doc’ Ross, M.D. ~ Rawhide Health, St. Maries

People frequently ask me about various aspects of nutrition, which I am always quite glad to discuss. I find that they are often striving to understand what is best for their bodies in the big picture. It comes down to personal choice and commitment to healthy decisions. The internet has spawned its own phenomenon of improvement limitation; you can search out and find ample support for any specific diet plan until you are certain that is exactly what you should be doing – regardless of whether it is right for you. To be fair, the internet can provide quite a bit of useful information, but it also causes a lot of problems in medicine today.

Nutrition, Diet & Eating
Nutrition is what we gain from food we eat. Your diet is what you regularly eat. Diet is not something that you “go on” or “off” of. Your diet makes up a fundamental part of your life. What do you usually eat? How and when do you have special foods or treats? Do you eat breakfast? Drink coffee? When is the last food you eat before settling in for the night? These are all aspects of your diet.

Eating includes diet and covers much more. “Having a meal” and “eating” is socializing, building kinships, and showing love. It is also indulgence, unregulated harm in many medical conditions, and a surrogate for attention. What and how we eat is some of society’s most enduring rituals. Food and eating are so much more than basic sustenance. We need to understand, at a fundamental level, how we use food and what we are doing to ourselves with it. This brings me to what I want to discuss – the nuts and bolts of eating.

Nuts & Bolts of Eating
Proper food choice balance is a key concept in industrialized America. We have so much readily available food that we can develop very poor patterns. The demands of life, family, and jobs pull many of us away from healthy routines.  We often do not even notice how far we have gotten from marginally passing, let alone good or outstanding habits and patterns.

Our bodies need protein, fat, and sugar in a balanced way to maintain our systems. Consuming over processed chicken parts that include bone, cartilage, and veins – commonly found in fast food nuggets – is not good nutrition. Skipping breakfast because you have no time or “I just never eat breakfast” does not help the body, especially when it is then force-revved with coffee, lattes, and energy drinks just to get you to mid-morning without a complete let down. I find people are often chasing sugar rush after sugar rush by grabbing whatever is available explaining, “I just have to eat something or I feel so tired/weak/drained/ . . . .” This can be done very innocently. Without proper understanding of our bodies and our foods, we cannot know how bad we are mistreating our bodies, or why our bodies break down. Too often we resign ourselves with, “It just runs in my family. It’s in my genes. What can I do?” The answer is: you can do A LOT!!

Healthy Recommendations
Now, I make healthy recommendations with caution. I educate patients about proper boundaries in their relationship to food.  So, when I say, “Good meat is good food,” it comes with a Rawhide Health caveat. Yes, steak, eggs, and milk all have phenomenal nutritional components to assist the body in doing what it needs to do. But a dietary recommendation is not free license to stuff yourself and overindulge just because the doctor said steak and eggs are good for you. 

Take a lifestyle approach to intelligent eating, balanced with activity at a level that’s appropriate for you. Learn what is good. Learn what is harmful. Decide what is worthwhile in your life once you know how much better you can feel when you take care of your body machine.

1) Take 15, 20, 45, minutes 3 or even 5 days a week to build up your body. That is as little as 45 minutes in a week; one week has over 10,000 minutes. The vast majority of Americans do not offer their bodies even that little.

2) Look to bring in approximately 25-30 percent of your calories from protein daily; remembering this nonetheless means 70-75% of all of your calories are still coming from fat and sugar.

3) Find the time to set yourself up for good wholesome, rejuvenating sleep of ~8 hours a night.

4) Drink more water and milk and less of anything else that has a direct impact on degrading your health.

5) Think about these things. Try them. Or, go ahead and do what you have been doing that you don’t think you have time or money to change. Or

6) Go the second route: your doctor and the local ER will gladly provide all the prescriptions you need while you are waiting for your first (or next) stroke or heart attack.

Good health is not rocket science; it starts with just 5 or 6 things, the nuts and bolts/the meat and potatoes. It can take some time to make a change. It helps to have a bit of support and direction. The biggest bang for your buck is in what you personally choose to live and die with. If you think you are ready for better in your life and are not sure where to start, find a doc you trust and go have a good long talk. The nuts and bolts – the meat and potatoes – of good health start with you.