Updated on 03.09.07

The Simple Dollar Talks Nutrition

Trent Hamm

Let me start out right off the bat by saying that I am far from a nutrition expert, but I felt it important that I add a post about nutrition to this site because of the regularity with which I post about cooking at home. I’m also going to be the last person to preach about how you have to have the universal perfect diet – there is no such thing as the perfect diet for everyone.

Instead, I’m more interested in little changes, much like I am with my finances. Here are a few lists of things that you can do to improve your nutrition, health, and overall well being. Obviously, talk to your doctor before undergoing any major lifestyle changes, but it doesn’t hurt anyone (unless you have an allergy or offsetting condition) to do almost anything on this list.

Five Signs You Might Want To Improve Your Diet
These things don’t indicate that you might be dying, but they are uncomfortable, and they are signs that you might want to make dietary changes. Your body is constantly giving you clues – pay attention.

1. Your bowel movements aren’t regular or smooth. If it’s hard to have a bowel movement, or you don’t have one on a very regular basis, there’s probably something not quite right with your diet.

2. You’re tired or not alert a lot. Tiredness can be the result of many things, but one thing that often causes it is a poor or unbalanced diet. You’re not malnourished, but something isn’t quite right. Eating well for a few days can help pretty much anyone.

3. Urination isn’t clear and sometimes burns a little. You’re dehydrated, period. Drink more water. I’d say drink at least two liters (64 ounces) a day until it’s clear again.

4. You get insomnia regularly, or oversleep regularly. While this may be caused by many things (stress is a big one), your diet plays a role here, too.

5. A general feeling of depression or malaise. Not necessarily tired, but an outlook of sadness and negativity. While this also can be the sign of a deeper problem, I found that a better diet has helped me regularly with such feelings.

Seven Things I Eat/Drink Every Day
This is basically a distillation of the better parts of every diet out there. I’ve been doing this every day for several years now and I feel fantastic and alert most of the time. If you asked me to set up a diet for you, all I would say is “eat everything on this list every day and then on top of that whatever else you want – just eat everything here every day.” You’re way better off just covering the basics in a fashion that you can maintain than tackling a radical diet for three days then downing a whole Sara Lee poundcake in a fury of hunger and guilt.

1. At least eight 8 ounce glasses of water (or about two liters of water) I drink these throughout the day; I used to drink a lot of soda, but now I replace them with this.

2. Eat some sort of breakfast. A Nutri-Grain bar on your way to work will take care of it and also knock off the next element. I often eat oatmeal for breakfast. You need something to get your body’s digestive processes running early in the morning and get our natural energy flow going.

3. Some sort of whole grain. A sandwich with whole grain bread in it, a bowl of oatmeal, a whole grain cereal bar – some sort of item that has whole grain in it.

4. Two fruit + vegetable smoothies. I go through V8 Fusion like there’s no tomorrow. If you’d rather eat the real thing instead, do it by all means; smoothies just allow me to mix it up a bit and they’re convenient for gulping whenever.

5. A vegetable snack outside of a meal. Baby carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, or something like that. Buy some of this at the store and bag it into small snack sized baggies. Eat one as a snack sometime during the day.

6. A fruit snack outside of a meal. Eat a banana, an apple, an orange, or any other fruit of your choosing. I usually eat these in the mid-afternoon when I’m feeling a bit in the energy doldrums.

7. Something with lots of protein in it. For me, this is usually a vanilla chai protein shake, but most meats have a good amount of protein in them, as do nuts and legumes. Eat some unsalted peanuts to knock this one out, or maybe a roast beef sandwich on whole grain bread to knock out this one and #3.

One final thing, get a bit of exercise when you can, even if it’s just walking up the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Every bit of exercise helps.

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  1. kyle says:

    I think:

    to knock out this one and #1

    should be:

    to knock out this one and #3

  2. tofu713 says:

    umm… on #4, V8 Fusion is more high fructose corn syrup (BAD) than vegetable or fruit juice (GOOD).
    I tend to either look for the 100% Juice stuff (Juicy Juice is a cheap brand that is 100% juice), get the really cool organic stuff (that costs an arm and a leg, but it makes you look cool), or use a juicer at home and homebrew you sum vegijuicy goodness.

    Also, tea is a good substitute for coffee.

  3. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Tofu: you’re probably thinking of V8 Splash, which is sugary and nasty. V8 Fusion is literally V8 with less salt and some 100% fruit juice mixed in. Read up on it: http://www.v8juice.com/faq_v8fusion.aspx

  4. Rob says:

    Ok – you need to post a vanilla chai protein shake recipe asap. That sounds great!

  5. Ryle says:

    This is a fabulous list and should be distributed to everyone – I bet it would help with the current obesity epidemic occurring in America! The only thing I might add is a list of things NOT to do, to go along with the things TO DO. Perhaps I’ll write that post and link it back to here on my new blog. Great post though!

  6. Jeff says:

    While I agree with most of your list, your water recommendation bothers me. While you may need 2 liters of water a day, most Americans probably don’t. We’ve become quite the sedentary country. I offer you snopes:
    and if you’d like, the question is addressed in podcast 42 of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe:
    That is the notes page. In order to listen to the podcast and get their opinion, it can be downloaded here: http://media.libsyn.com/media/skepticsguide/skepticast05-10-06.mp3 or via iTunes.

  7. db says:

    I checked out that V8 Fusion link — I’m curious to do a label scan for what’s added now. Plus I’m a little unsure about the combination of flavors — I’d just have to try it!

    But it occured to me that you could get a lot of mileage out of just buying a good juicer and juicing a lot of your own drinks Trent — unless it’s the convenience factor of the V8 Fusion that you’re going for its bound to be cheaper.

  8. mary says:

    My doctor taught me (and it’s widely published on the net) that one should drink 1/2 ounce of water each day for each pound of body weight (so a 200 pound man should drink 100 oz. water.) If you aren’t much of a water drinker, work up to this amount gradually.

    He makes sure his family doesn’t eat sugar or processed foods; I was amazed to learn that his kids have NEVER been ill. He says the high quality food they purchase pays for itself in that they have no medical or dental bills (other than regular cleanings.) His 3rd grade daughter was at the Dave Ramsey class we’ve been attending; she went without her parents! Don’t know if it’s all the veggies but they are doing SOMETHING right!

    Great list by the way!

  9. eR0CK says:

    Mary … you’re right on.

    In addition to drinking a good amount of water each day …. each meal should contain a starchy carb (sweet potatoes, brown rice, etc), fibrous carb (celery, carrots, peas, etc), and a protein (chicken, salmon, etc).

    A whole food diet and spending 30 minutes in the gym three times a week, you’ll be in great shape!

  10. On #1, if it’s consistent, consider cutting wheat out of your diet. I’m not shitting you.

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