What's your New Year's resolution for 2022? Is it losing weight, building more muscle mass, or completing your first 5K?
Maybe it's something less physical and more mindful, like learning Italian, taking an online course, or attending a seminar. Or perhaps you're planning on changing career paths.
Whatever your goals are for the future, it's safe to assume that somewhere there's an underlying theme of "self-improvement" in the mix. After all, a new year allows you a fresh start to pursue your passions and shake off those old habits that might be holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself!
After January, however, our eager aspirations of self-improvement start to lose some momentum. So, rather than focusing on one goal, or resolution, that could fizzle out by February, why not make "balance" a priority in 2022?
You've probably heard of work/life balance, but have you thought about food/life balance?
Food/Life Balance in 2022
Have you ever thought about the impact that food has on your lifestyle? Food helps fuel your mind and body—making it possible to get up, go to work, spend time with family, and do all those other activities of life we each enjoy.
Without proper nutrition, we lose more than our personal drive to live each day to its fullest potential. We lose the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies count on us to provide.
Out with the Old
You're probably familiar with the 5 food groups:
- Protein Foods
And you might try to get your recommended daily amount of each individual category (e.g., 2 cups of vegetables, 6 ounces of grain, 3 cups of dairy, etc.). The only issue with this type of food structure (which many of us know and try our best to follow) is that dietary recommendations often focus more on foods vs. nutrients.
In with the New Food Category
What if we told you there's a new food category out there? One focused on getting the most nutrients per calorie serving with little impact on blood sugar?
"Nutrient density" isn't a common household term—yet. In fact, most of us struggle to provide a clear definition of what nutrient-rich ingredients are, or which foods fit within this group.
To put it simply, the human body requires both macronutrients (i.e., protein, fats, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals) in different quantities to help us grow, develop, and function normally.
But here's the kicker.
There are many nutrients that our bodies just can't produce independently, or at least not enough of naturally. The result? It's up to us to help nourish our bodies with these essential nutrients each day through the foods we choose to eat.
Nutrient density is all about focusing on balance vs. a single food group, diet, or nutrient. It's about blending vitamins, minerals, and food groups together to ensure you're getting the max nutrients and health benefits.
Here's where it gets even better; nutrient density paired with less glycemic impact takes this food category a step further, as it helps you choose nutrient-dense carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals but are low in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.
Why Does This Matter?
We all need to care about our foods' glycemic impact—regardless of our age, health history, or socio-economic background.
Glucose serves as the body's main source of energy and is a product of carbohydrate breakdown. When we eat foods with carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks it down into a sugar, which is then absorbed and enters the blood.
When blood sugar is high after we eat, it could be due to consuming a higher carbohydrate meal that offers little protein or fiber. Fiber is considered a carb, but because it isn't digested by the body, it doesn't raise blood sugar.
Therefore, when we consciously choose foods that have a higher fiber content, low to no added sugar, and a good source of protein or healthy fats, we're inviting blood sugar-friendly options into our meal planning—all of which can benefit our body, mind, and well-being.
Go Beyond Healthy Eating in the New Year
Nutrient density isn't a fad diet. Rather, it offers us a new way to think about your food choices.
It puts you in the driver seat of your meal options, as you focus on filling your plate or pantry with items that offer more essential nutrients in each individual serving.
Pairing the benefits of nutrient density with little impact on blood sugar takes it even further by allowing you to skip added sugars and reduce simple carbohydrates, so you feel energized and ready to take on each new day.
As you decide on your new goals and resolutions, we hope you'll make food/life balance a priority in 2022 and beyond!