Our relationships with food, weight and health are complicated. For some, food is a four-letter-word. For others, it’s never been an issue at all. And for still others, it’s a subject they’d like to know more about, but don’t know how to begin.
Unfortunately, the vast amount of information and misinformation available has done nothing to simplify matters. If you’re new to the world of nutrition, you’re probably overwhelmed and wondering where to start.
First, congratulate yourself for caring. Making a choice to care about your health is a big deal. By understanding and implementing healthy food patterns, your life is about to change forever.
Next, take a deep, cleansing breath and relax. You aren’t alone, and you don’t have to know everything at once. In fact, the best thing you can do is to start small and straightforward. That’s why we’ve taken the time to share what we believe are the best first steps for you as you take control of your health by embracing proper nutrition.
Ignore Fad Diets and Quick Fixes
These days, diet zealots are a dime a dozen. As you begin learning about nutrition, you’ll come across diets that claim to be the magic bullet. They’ll promise you lowered blood pressure, smaller pant sizes, better sleep and more energy—in ten days or less.
It’ll be very tempting to jump in with both feet, but quick fixes are almost always a mistake. Before you sign on to eating only celery and chicken breasts for the next thirty days, take some time to build your foundation.
After you’ve learned the basics about nutrition, and more importantly, they way your individual body works, you can revisit the diets from a more informed perspective.
Talk to Your Doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor or another health professional you trust. Doctors talk to their patients about nutrition every day, so don’t worry about asking stupid questions or wasting their time. A solid understanding of nutrition is your first step to better overall health, and your doctor will probably be thrilled to help you start that journey.
Hopefully, your doctor knows you and your medical history. If you’re a new patient, however, they can still help you establish a baseline that will determine first steps. Your doctor can then make recommendations based on your current level of health.
The great thing about starting a conversation is that it can continue beyond your initial chat. As you learn and begin to implement changes, your doctor can answer your questions and address your concerns as they come up.
Buy or Checkout Library Books on Basic Nutrition
Investing in a comprehensive nutrition book is an excellent idea. You’ll want one that has an index, so you can reference it quickly when you have a question.
Checking out the children’s section in your local library is an even better idea. Books directed at young audiences automatically cut out the more complicated details, instead focusing on the basics. Flip through a few children’s nutrition books, and you’ll quickly absorb the essential building blocks of good nutrition.
If you don’t know where to start, ask your librarian to recommend a good children’s book on nutrition. If you’d rather do your research from home, you can always check out Amazon reviews on top titles, as well.
Use the Web, But Be Careful
The internet is our culture’s greatest tool, but when used incorrectly, it can be very dangerous. This is certainly true when it comes to searching for health and nutrition information.
If you wouldn’t take nutritional advice from any stranger you met walking along the street, then you shouldn’t assume every website or blog is telling you the truth about your body and the food you put into it.
For now, stick to professional websites written by certified nutritionists or that reference well-documented studies and research.
There is one exception to this rule: recipes. Once you have a list of foods you want to eat more, searching for healthy recipes is an excellent way to incorporate them into your meal planning easily.
Consider Taking a Class
Many public health departments offer basic nutrition classes. You can also search government websites for nutrition seminars or ask your doctor for a recommendation.
The Great Courses provide lectures on health and nutrition, but again be careful about your source. An Introduction to Nutrition class by a respected expert is the best place to start.
General Tips to Get You Started
As you begin your nutrition journey, we thought you might appreciate a few basic, well-researched tips to get you started on the right foot.
- Drink water, more than you think you should, but not so much you feel sick.
- Read the ingredients. You’re less likely to ingest unhealthy additives if you choose foods that have fewer than five ingredients.
- Prioritize protein, vegetables, healthy grains and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, butter, oils). These are the building blocks.
- Cut out sugar as much as you possibly can.
- Plan your meals. You’re more likely to make healthy choices if you have a menu in mind when you go to the grocery store.
- Remember that frequent exercise, quality sleep, reduced stress and lots of water are the best supports for healthy nutrition.
Food doesn’t have to be a bad word or a total mystery. By taking a few small steps, you can begin to understand the power for good it’s meant to be in your life and health.
By reading this article and checking out a few of the resources we’ve linked, you’ve already begun your transformation. That’s something to celebrate. Keep it simple, and we have no doubt that soon, you’ll be well on your way to a brighter, healthier, and longer future.
What’s your next step? Let us know which resources are most helpful as you begin your nutrition journey! Leave a comment and fill us in as you progress!