Food & Drink / Health / Lifestyle

Setting the Basics of Nutrition

Adherence 

Perhaps the most understated, be it within fitness, nutrition or lifestyle, is adherence and consistency. Changes to our body do not just happen overnight or over the course of a few weeks, but months and years 

Most of us are pretty aware of this. Yet aside from the usual mention of being consistent or ‘sticking to your long-term goals’ it just doesn’t get enough attention 

How do we keep ourselves on-track with adherence whilst remaining accountable? 

Staying on track requires a few things; we need to define that track; one that can keep you on your path to success, but also facilitates your social life, reduce stress, all without being too restrictive, yet still improving your overall health and condition. More on goal setting later 

There are certainly sacrifices to be made with adopting change, but only you can make those decisions as to how much flexibility you allow in your current life to make those changes 

Goal Setting 

As mentioned above, the path to our targets needs to strike a fine balance of keeping ourselves on track, but also facilitating existing lifestyle habits 

Diets that are too restrictive often have high rates of fallout – a bland, restrictive diet can lead to disordered eating, an unhealthy relationship with food, poor social life and a lack of energy, to name but a few issues 

Goals should be attainable, otherwise we will not stick to them 

Goals also need to take us along a path to where we want to be, the result of which is where we see a difference and change for good 

Nutrients 

We are encompassing a wide topic here, and it can get quite technical, although, it doesn’t really need to be. So let’s keep it brief 

At base level, food (and drink) contains calories, calories which we burn for energy 

Calories we don’t use, get stored. If we move less, we also burn less. Weight gain occurs here 

At the opposite end, sometimes we use up more calories than we eat, tapping into our stored energy, weight loss occurs here 

If we manage to eat the same amount as we expend, weight stays the same 

Delving further into food, we’re getting towards the actual nutrients within food allow us to survive and reproduce as a species 

Macronutrients; the things we consume in larger amounts; protein, carbohydrates, fats, (alcohol is also listed here). 

Micronutrients: the things we require in small, or trace, amounts – vitamins alongside minerals such as iron and potassium for example 

They all play a part to keep us alive 

There can be an over-emphasis on our macro and micro nutrients, how much we need of each exact one 

Really, these recommendations have never changed over time; a balanced diet will cover most bases, inclusive of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, with variety of fruit and vegetables, beans legumes and whole foods  

Sleep 

A struggle for everyone in the UK, we average just over 6 hours, which is painfully short of the recommended 7-8 hours 

As hospitality staff, we are often already on the back-foot even before we have woken up! 

Our industry, tends to cater for those who head out to eat or drink, and this undoubtedly happens more in the evening 

Why do we need sleep in the first place?  

It is is essential for survival. It allows us not just to refresh and prepare for the next day, but facilitates short and long-term memory, as well as benefit our cognitive abilities and information processing  

Poor-sleep quality can affect mood, decision making, performance and poorer food choices 

Simple tips for getting more sleep; 

⁃ Lower your caffeine and alcohol intake 

⁃ Don’t eat a big meal just before bedtime 

⁃ Remove or lower your alcohol intake 

⁃ Create a comfortable environment; dark blinds, a good bed base and mattress, along with suitable pillows 

⁃ Avoid light exposure before bedtime, including mobile phone screens or white light from bulbs 

Hydration 

Body is made up of so much water, but what does it do? 

Put simply, it resides within our cells or outside the cells as part of blood and interstitial fluid. Nutrients are transported around our blood, being delivered to cells so our body can perform its normal functions. Our kidneys filter 187 litres of blood a day! 

Water is lost water via sweat, going to the toilet and breathing! So of course it needs to be replenished so we can continue to nourish all parts of our body 

How much do you need? Take your weight in kilograms, (this doesn’t need to be exact) and multiply it by 28. This a just a ballpark figure so drink more if you feel like it. Being in a warm environment or performing exercise are just two examples of where you may want to increase your water intake 

In terms of actually drinking water on a regular basis, making habitual changes such as keeping a glass of water next to your bed whilst you sleep, or carrying a reusable water bottle to and from work and just two examples. There are also numerous apps that you can use to track your water intake 

Lastly hydration does not just come in the form of the clear stuff, hot drinks, softs and even foods all contribute 

Fibre 

Fibre isn’t something we can actually break down and absorb, but this resistance to digestion gives it properties that are very useful for us humans 

Characteristics of fibre include solubility, viscosity and even being fermentable. This can help slow down the rate at which we break down other food in the constituent meal. This can be useful with controlling hunger, assisting with weight loss or caloric control 

If you find yourself on the unfortunately end of going hours without food during a busy shift, a meal inclusive of fibre earlier in the day can help mitigate the need for a subsequent meal 

Fibre also provides nutrients for our gut bacteria, acting as probiotics. This promotes growth and diversity within our microflora, which can assist in reducing IBS symptoms and also decreasing the potential for harmful bacteria to build up  

Fibre is found in all fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, pulses beans and wholewheat products. If your fibre intake is currently low, increasing this gradually over the course of a few weeks is easier on our stomachs, rather than going from 5g to the recommended 30g in the space of a few days 

Supplements 

Saving this till last, as we tend as a society look towards quick-fixes rather than focus on the long-game 

As the name suggests, supplements are to complement an existing diet, and not be relied up on as a replacement 

There are common supplements that we incorporate into our diet on a regular basis, caffeine or vitamin tablets are fairly innocuous and commonplace, with comprehensive data (including safety) to reinforce their use in everyday life 

Yet the supplement business is a big one, with companies promising shiny results for you as soon as you part with your cash 

There are certain supplements that can assist an individual in reaching targets, but if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is 

The need for a supplement probably indicates a need to change an existing habit, lifestyle or diet change, rather than spending money on a quick fix

Stephen Pennack About Author

I have spent my entire life working in the service industry, with most of it in hospitality, from high-end hotels and restaurants to dive bars and pubs Despite the obvious differences in venue and locale, some things remain consistent in our line of work; long hours, tough physical work, situations involving alcohol, all whilst typically undernourished, under-paid and under appreciated! I have always been interested in food and drink, but a while back I became more and more interested in how nutrition and diet affected my own lifestyle and longevity A number of courses later with certified education providers, I am now focussed on providing nutrition education for hospitality individuals, to help improve their performance and wellbeing During the first lockdown, I crossed paths with Paddy whilst on a call with Matthew from BeHospro, discussing diet and nutrition. I think we’d all been on a similar path in our careers, so it made absolute sense to team up with So Let’s Talk. It is well overdue, but the industry is changing, and I am keen to bring my experience and knowledge along to make this a better industry for all involved.

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