Living Healthy, Goldilocks-style

by Annie on June 25, 2009 · 8 comments

in Eating Healthy

Welcome to Small Steps to Health where we do not take orders from a cookie!  In this post, my friend, Sagan Morrow from Living Healthy in the Real World, shares her approach to getting the proper amount of nutrients from food and supplements.

Judging by the shelves upon shelves of diet and health books that I found myself staring at recently in a bookstore, we all greedily lap up any information we can regarding what we should and should not do when it comes to eating habits. If a particular diet expert says that we are all probably deficient in calcium and need more of it to prevent bone loss in the future, society responds drastically. Calcium supplement sales shoot up and we start knocking them back. Why take just one when you could take three? It’s good for you, right? Better triple that dosage!

But it doesn’t work like that. Although we should indeed be concerned about nutrient deficiencies, we should equally be concerned about nutrient toxicities. If you’re doubling or tripling the recommended daily amount of calcium, for example, then you’re more likely to be susceptible to kidney stones. Excess calcium also hinders the absorbent ability of iron, which could then lead to a deficiency in that nutrient.

It also depends what kind of nutrient you’re consuming as to the likelihood of reaching deficient or toxic levels. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, pass through our bodies quickly and therefore we need to consume an astronomically high amount of that vitamin to reach toxic levels. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, on the other hand, remain in the body and can reach toxic levels much quicker.

The moral of the story is to take the Goldilocks approach of consuming a moderate amount of every nutrient. Not too much, not too little: just enough to be healthy and reap the benefits. You can best achieve this by reading nutrition labels and doing a little research to learn what foods different nutrients can be found in. It is also good to know a little bit about which nutrients you may be lacking in due to a lack of variety in your diet.

Iron is a particularly tricky nutrient when it comes to achieving that desired balance. There are two forms of iron; heme and non-heme. Heme iron is only found in animal flesh, and it is absorbed twice as efficiently as non-heme. This is very problematic for vegetarians. There are ways that they can increase the absorption of non-heme iron, however: consuming the plant-based source of iron with a source of vitamin C is one way to enhance absorption. Toxicity levels of iron usually only occur when the person is taking iron supplements, so if you are taking supplements, you might want to discuss it with your doctor or a registered dietician to ensure that your nutrient levels are balanced.

It pays off to become savvy at reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists for figuring out the meaning of the labels on bottles of supplements. Increasing your awareness of the value and dangers of nutrient consumption will lead you to better health. Any kind of recurring problem, such as bleeding noses, insomnia, or diarrhoea, could very easily be a result of a deficiency or toxicity of a vitamin or mineral in your diet. How much do you know about the nutrients in the food that you eat?

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.  If you want to read more of Sagan’s writing, head on over to Living Healthy in the Real World.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance June 25, 2009 at 2:25 pm

The Goldilocks approach…just right…

I take it as being “sensible” and just avoiding extremes. Makes lots of sense to me…

For a while, I was going a bit overboard on fish oil. Now I’ve cut back (hmmm…maybe too much).

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Spring Girl June 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Oh like that – eating Goldilocks-style! Vitamins are a tricky topic. I refuse to take tablets (the side effects of iron supplements are ‘unpleasant’ for me) and yet I’m fairly confident I’m low on some. It’s on my to-do list to really have a good look at whether I need to up my intake of certain foods or make them more regular to make sure I’m getting all I need.

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asithi June 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm

@Spring Girl – I am on the same boat as you. I am pretty sure that I might be a little under for some vitamins, but neither do I want to overdo it. That is why I really like the Vistafusion Multi Vites because the vitamins A, C, E, and niacin is only at 50% of RDA (the vitamins that people in developed nations have the highest chance of overeating) and 100% of the other vitamins that we do not get enough off (such as folic acid). Thanks for the comment.

@Lance – sometimes people get a little crazy when it comes to their approach in exercising, dieting, and eating healthy. Not sure why some people get that bug and others don’t. It is never a good idea to go too extreme on anything IMHO. Thanks for the comment.

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Diane, fit to the finish June 26, 2009 at 6:14 am

I think this is a wonderful analogy. You know, before I lost 150 pounds I was eating like a Papa Bear and looked it. As I was losing weight I slowly changed my attitude towards food and took the Goldilocks approach. I think moderation is key, and by the way, this is the first time I visited your blog, and my daughter and I loved the byline, “Never take orders from a cookie!”
.-= Diane, fit to the finish´s last blog ..Don’t You Eat That Food From the Trash! =-.

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asithi June 26, 2009 at 11:40 am

@Diane – Moderation is really hard to learn when it comes to food, especially when you have a sweet tooth! Sugar is added into everything! Thanks for the comment Diane.

PS. In case you cannot tell from my byline, sweets are generally a weakness for me.

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RickyRae June 26, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Goldilocks-style… So catchy, and yet, could not be more true. Getting it “just right” is about finding balance in your diet which is not always easy, but is certainly vital to our well being.
.-= RickyRae´s last blog ..It’s hot, Hot, HOT! =-.

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asithi June 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

@RickyRae – I wonder if part of the problem is that so few of us recognize what “just right” means anymore. Portion distortion is common. Everything is bigger. And when we get a small amount, we often feel ripped off. Thanks for the comment RickyRae.

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