Why Your Diet Is The Most Stressful Thing In Your Life, According To A Nutritionist
When I first interviewed Amie Valpone, a former NBA nutritionist, I had every intention of telling a story that would provide an insight into what our favorite NBA stars eat in order to stay in peak physical condition.
However, after chatting with Valpone, who's currently a Nutrition Ambassador for Lycored, I realized the story I needed to tell was one that involves everyone, not just pro athletes.
Valpone opened my eyes to everything I've been doing wrong when it comes to eating. I thought I was being healthy, but I really didn't have a clue.
For starters, Valpone pointed out how the emphasis should be on what you eat rather than what you identify as. She told Elite Daily,
Everyone wants to put a label on what they are, whether it's paleo or vegan, or whatever it may be. The main goal is making sure you're getting the nutrients you need, no matter what kind of lifestyle you're living.
Once we established how important it is to be selective with everything we put into our bodies, it was time to begin a lesson on how to eat properly.
Valpone told Elite Daily,
A lot of people and a lot of athletes don't understand what healthy fats are. Instead of eating fats from a conventional cheeseburger, which is more of an inflammatory fat, you want a good fat, like walnuts or almonds or flax seeds or wild salmon. Things that are anti-inflammatory.
"Inflammatory" and "anti-inflammatory" are two words Valpone mentioned often during our conversation. She made it crystal clear the foods we eat are either one or the other. Obviously, we want to be consuming the latter as often as possible.
Valpone also talked about the importance of eating organic, especially when it comes to animal proteins. She told Elite Daily,
Any types of animal protein -- whether it's milk or cheese or chicken or steak or eggs -- if it's not organic, you're eating growth hormones and antibiotics from the animal. It ends up really messing with our health down the line.
In addition to the organic animal proteins, Valpone emphasized incorporating items like almond butter, cashew butter, nuts and seeds, sprouted whole grain bread and fiber from whole foods, like fruits and vegetables.
And when it comes to those fruits and veggies, Valpone stressed how important it is to have a variety. She told Elite Daily,
You want your lycopene from your tomatoes. Your carotenoids. Your beta-carotene in your sweet potatoes or your leafy greens.
Then, there's the almighty gluten. Is it necessary to be gluten free if you're not actually allergic? Valpone shed some much-needed light, telling Elite Daily,
A lot of athletes are on a gluten-free diet because gluten can be very inflammatory for them and their joints and muscles. They don't like it. It doesn't make them feel good. Gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa, millet and buckwheat [are great]. When they remove gluten or dairy or soy, a lot of these inflammatory foods, they're seeing a huge benefit. Once you see life this way, you'll never go back. It's not because you should do it, it's because once you see how good you can feel, you'll never go back to eating processed foods again.
Valpone also explained in depth just how damaging it can be not to eat enough. Valpone works with a slew of clients, from celebrities to athletes to everyday professionals, and has seen that fad dieting or avoiding fat can have disastrous effects on your body.
She told Elite Daily,
I have so many celebrity clients who fear fat, and they're scared of avocados because in the early '90s, the industry made us think all fats are bad. [But] it's such a healthy fat. But now, we're seeing a ton of men and women dealing with hormonal problems, and a majority of it is because we're not eating enough fat. Hormones need fat to function. People who can't lose weight or have insomnia or PMS, or whatever it may be, that's hormonal -- it usually comes down to an endocrine problem.
So, when you think you're being healthy by shying away from fat, you're really doing your body far more harm than good.
If you're looking at that non-fat yogurt as a great lean source of protein, well, you don't know how wrong you are. Valpone explained, telling Elite Daily,
People don't realize the impact food has on their health. You eat fat-free yogurt now, and you fit in your skinny jeans, but you're going to have health issues later in life. You really need to eat for your health, not to fit into a new outfit. As long as you're eating organic yogurt, it's totally fine. Your body needs that fat to really help it work.
What are you laughing at, calorie counters? According to Valpone, you're just as wrong as the fat fearers. Valpone told Elite Daily,
You can eat 100 calories from a 100-calorie pack of Oreos, and that's 100 calories of pure inflation in sugar and white flour. Or, you can eat 300 calories of an avocado and that's anti-inflammatory. Calories have nothing to do with it. It's about the quality of the food and what kind of food it is.
This is also where the stress factor comes into play. Valpone explained just how great a toll not eating can take on your body. She explained to Elite Daily,
If you skip meals, you're affecting your hormones. Your cortisol is going to go high, and you're going to start to affect your adrenals. When you don't feed your body, that's stress in itself. When you don't eat breakfast, and you're just drinking coffee to get through your day, that's taxing your adrenals and raising your cortisol, which is screwing up all of your hormones. This is why weight gain happens when people diet and they can't lose weight. Stress is not just, 'I'm stressed out from a meeting.'
So, the next time you're thinking about skipping a meal or avoiding fat altogether, make yourself some avocado toast and chill the f*ck out.