While analyzing the exterior of your body is helpful in determining the state of your health, oftentimes this is a direct reflection of how well your body is being taken care of on the inside. Pain, such as cramping in the feet, may be caused by what you are (or are not) fueling yourself with on the inside. In this post, we will go over key foods and habits to use in order to get rid of cramping and live pain free. Follow along to learn how you can fuel your body just right, to feel just right!
How to eat right
Eating “right” can mean many different things for many different people. You may even find that your eating habits will change over time depending on varying factors such as the amount of exercise you are doing, what foods you chose to eat (such as if you eat meat at one point in your life and switch to vegetarianism), and even what the weather is like from a day to day basis! However, following some regulatory guidelines will help you stay on track to your own personal goals, while maintaining a healthy diet for your body.
Disclaimer: Throughout this article, we will use the term “diet.” Unlike how many individuals refer to this as a weight loss or other plan, we will use this term in reference to your everyday food intake. Restricting foods or depriving your body of necessary nutrients can be detrimental to your health, which will be discussed further in the remainder of this article.
There are many food and nutrition guides out in the world that will share what your daily dosages should be like depending on your age, weight, height, etc. Though these computer generated estimates often do not take into account the varying factors discussed previously and can be very misleading or misguided. First and foremost, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your doctor or dietician to discuss your lifestyle and relationship to food to receive a more in depth and catered diet plan for you specifically.
However, today we would like to discuss a few concepts relating to food that may help you fuel your body more effectively.
Meals versus snacking
There are many viewpoints on this issue which may be impacted by preexisting health conditions, culture, and more. According to Harvard Health, Americans have varying motivations for snacking such as “hunger, social/food culture, distracted eating, boredom, indulgence, and food insecurity” and this can vary depending on our food environment. Some benefits of snacking can include boosting your energy, curbing your appetite, and adding various nutrients into your diet. However, this all depends on if you are choosing nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts while maintaining an appropriate serving size. If you do not choose appropriate snacks, some negative externalities can include undesired weight gain, lack of consistency in hunger, and even lead to a poor change in your mood or behaviors.
The bottom line is that snacking is okay for you when in moderation and when choosing healthy options. We recommend eating three main meals per day to uphold consistency and snack when you are truly hungry. This can be a very challenging concept to grasp especially if you are a seasoned snacker. So, we suggest that each time you are looking to snack, ask yourself:
- When are you most desiring one? Can you prepare a snack before you are hungry to avoid unhealthy, fast options?
- What are you craving? For example, if you desire a cookie after lunch each day, consider eating a cup of fruit instead to substitute a healthier, unrefined sugar option.
- Why are you hungry? This goes back to your food environment and if your answer is stress or boredom, you may want to substitute a snack for water and wait until your next meal.
If you struggle to sit down for three full meals a day, you may also consider having smaller meals more often. Some people do not feel well after eating a large breakfast so turning this meal into two smaller meals, or even one snack may be appropriate for you. Additionally, making your food at home as opposed to eating out will encourage you to examine your portion sizes and help you save money! The most important part of how you eat is choosing to eat intuitively. Listen to your body and be kind to yourself always.
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Meat versus meatlessMany Americans are making the switch to vegetarianism and plant based diets. Of course, there are many reasons for this including the positive benefit it has on our environment. In terms of personal diet and health, there are also many benefits to consider. “Meatless Monday” is a great way to start working on reducing meat consumption. Here are a few pros of substituting plant-based foods into your diet:
- Improve heart health and reduce risk of heart disease
- Replacing half a serving of meat with plant protein can reduce risk of type II diabetes
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Promote kidney health
- Beans, nuts, soy, and other vegetables provide ample amounts of protein that can carry you through the day and even induce higher, more sustainable energy levels
Again, these are just a few tips that you may find helpful in increasing your energy while lowering varying negative effects of food or illnesses. Yet, consulting your doctor before making any dietary changes is always a good idea.
Why diets can be harmful
The University of Berkeley explains that “yo-yo” dieting is the repetitive cycle of gaining, losing, and regaining weight which is common when attempting diet trends. This can have negative effects such as “increased risk of heart disease, long-lasting negative impacts on metabolism” as “dieting forces your body into starvation mode.” Another harmful effect of dieting is how it affects you mentally as many individuals often put themselves down for not accomplishing unrealistic goals.
In the article, “How To Eat For Exercise And Recovery,” we suggest that instead you try to change the way you view food. Some ways to work on this include maintaining a food journal, setting achievable goals, and creating energy balance through consistent mealtimes. Try finding healthy foods that you enjoy and research recipes that use them. You can also invite a friend or loved one to help make food together. This will help you associate eating healthy with positive memories and people in your life, thus increasing your likelihood of keeping up with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Eating to reduce pain and swelling
Even individuals who eat a healthy diet and exercise frequently can experience pain from swelling and cramping. Fortunately, there are some foods that help combat chronic pain through their anti-inflammatory properties. First, consider what you are already eating that may be causing or enhancing this pain. Certain foods cause an inflammatory response, these include: refined carbohydrates, fried foods, processed meat and simple sugars like high fructose corn syrup. If you can minimize or cut these foods out completely, you likely will see a noticeable difference.
However, if you still experience pain, foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocado have significant amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. They are also delicious! Moreover, eating nutrient rich foods like these have the added benefits of improving cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, helping manage body weight, and controlling blood sugar.
How much water to rid of cramping
Watermelons and melons are also excellent for cramping due to their high water content, but hydrating is key to feeling your best. Muscle cramps are a direct correlation to dehydrations so make sure to get in at least six to eight glasses of water every day and increase your intake if you are exercising or spending time out in the sun.
We hope that by following these tips to fuel yourself right, you will also feel your best. Good luck and let us know how your progress comes!