My name is Sarah Cain and I am a nutritionist located in Airlie Beach in Australia’s Whitsundays. My belief is that we are all different — and so are our bodies, lives and goals — and therefore our nutrition should reflect that.
During these uncertain times, in particular due to many of us spending more time at home and adjusting to new routines, it’s incredibly important that we remember to fuel our bodies properly with food and fluid for both our physical and mental health. Here are some quick and simple tips from me.
I started parkrunning three years ago. My mum had decided to start parkrun in Victoria and as I was so far away, I joined in and participated at my local parkrun in Airlie Beach as a way of supporting her. We wish each other well before and call after to see how we went. It is a great way to feel more connected to your family when they are far away.
I chose to study nutrition after spending most of life watching the effect that food had on me, my family and friends. Learning to overcome the fear I had around food has allowed me to really shift into fuelling my body with purpose and sparked my passion for cooking even more. I love helping others to nourish their body without restriction or rules, for the rest of their lives, teaching them tools to shift to a mindset of abundance instead of restriction when it comes to food.
Nutrition affects all our body systems and is genuinely the basis of everything. Good nutrition can help us to thrive mentally, physically and emotionally and when something is off or we are not getting enough of certain minerals and vitamins the opposite can be true. All the exercise, medicine or treatments in the world would be undermined if we do not fuel our bodies well.
In my job I evaluate how clients are feeding their bodies on a day to day basis, and adapt food plans and recipes to suit their goals and needs. Before COVID I would see clients face to face but now I operate over the phone or video.
One drastic and positive change I have noticed are the questions I am being asked and people’s approach towards nutrition and healthy eating. Previously, there had always been a trend of weight loss and the physical rewards of good nutrition, whereas now I see lots of people really striving to improve their overall health so they can carry out their lives as their best self. It’s refreshing to see the majority of people are focusing on immunity and taking care of their bodies, which is why I became a nutritionist in the first place.
For me, basic good nutrition means including fibre, greens, protein and healthy fats in every meal. As long as these components go on your plate/bowl first you will achieve good results. I do not believe in eliminating whole food groups unless it is necessary for you personally; instead focus on what you are including.
When it comes to food, try to include variety, especially in vegetables, as all our food contains different vitamins and minerals that we need to thrive. Variety in our food ensures we are reaching all our vitamins and minerals to the best of our ability. I also try to incorporate as many immunity boosting and low inflammatory foods as possible, such as turmeric, lemon, garlic, ginger, dark green vegetables and cold pressed olive oil/avocado oil for cooking.
When it comes to mental health, there is certainly a link with nutrition. Deficiencies in any essential vitamins or nutrients can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns. It is crucial that we look after our gut health as when our gut microbiome isn’t in a great condition it can also really affect our brain as well as all our body systems.
It is really important to feed your body in a way that suits your needs – we are all different and our caloric needs vary. For some people, intermittent fasting does wonders, while others who may have issues with low blood pressure or blood sugar, can really thrive off eating every two or three hours.
There are also many differences when it comes to nutrition with adults as opposed to children. At the end of the day we are different shapes and sizes, therefore we do not need to consume the same amount of food in most cases. Children are also still developing, therefore a young child who is running around all day will have different needs to a middle aged woman who has a desk job. Additionally, males and females have different hormonal make-ups and therefore certain hormonal concerns need to be addressed through diet.
Try to include fibre, greens, healthy fats and protein in every meal and include variety wherever possible.
In terms of fluids, my advice is water, water, water! It really is a beautiful gift from nature and, like parkrun, it’s free!
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