Special to South Florida Times

Eating healthy, clean, good, light, etc. What does all this really mean in our world of nutrition? Is it about feeling great or creating this image of what we may think of as healthy?

Wellness can apply to mental, physical and nutrition-related habits, but when it all comes down to it, how can we optimize our lifestyles through nutrition and wellness? this is the key!

Everyone can make small changes to provide a better quality of life for the long-term. Here are six ways we can optimize our health through nutrition:

1. Optimize through killing the dieter’s mentality. Society is filled with unrealistic diets eliminating key nutrients our bodies need to function. There are a total of three macronutrients needed to sustain and nourish our bodies: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Most diets try to take one macronutrient completely out of your eating habits or give an excessively high amount of a macronutrient. Each macronutrient has clear instruction of what it needs to provide for our bodies. Carbs are our source of energy, proteins provide rebuilding properties and fat is for insulation, transport and protection of certain components in our body. Excessive amounts of any of these can cause a dysfunction in your body organs and overall health. Ask yourself if the diet promises instant weight loss, sounds too good to be true and/or lacks valid scientific research supporting claims.

If yes then you might want to reconsider starting the fad diet.

2. Optimize through building a foundation of habits. Consider the following drawbacks that distract us from building key habits for the long haul. here are some common mistakes we make when trying to build stable foundations.

Mistake #1: Attempting to achieve too much at one time:We say to ourselves, “today is the day i will no longer eat bread, but only eat salads, even though i haven’t had a salad in months, and run 3 miles every morning.” Does that sound like you? if so you are making a huge mistake at trying to accomplish too much at one time. take small steps towards optimal health, not a run, jump and skip toward your goals.

Mistake #2: We choose changes that are short term and not long term:

Everybody has been at this stage. We say, “if I can just lose 15-20 pounds by such and such date i will be satisfied and confident.” We make short-term goals and not safe, lasting decisions.

Mistake #3: Not focusing on the process, but instead the instant outcome: after taking small steps and becoming comfortable with changes, we tend to take it step further, which is great. Push it to the next level but don’t forget it’s an overall process of change.

Sometimes focusing on the outcome or result can discourage us because we feel like we haven’t accomplished enough. That is nonsense! When you are consistent your confidence and motivation increases over time as a result.

Mistake #4: Setting a goal with a finish line. Start setting goals without a finish line so once you complete a goal, you will not be stuck with what’s next.

There are no boundaries when it comes to reaching your true potential.

3. Optimize by eating modest meals. you say lunch is too hard to pack and bringing a lunch will stop you from getting up and out. Sometimes you just upright forget about lunch altogether while still working. Then you are required to eat something so you run to the nearest vending machine picking a less than healthy option. This is the story of so many working, busy Americans. About 1 out of 5 Americans eat a lunch or midday meal. No wonder we are starving when it comes to dinnertime. The benefits of eating lunch include: your body’s ability to burn more calories, increased productivity and more concentration in the work place.

4. Optimize by eating at least 25-35 grams of fiber and including whole foods in your daily regimen. Whole foods include foods that are minimally processed. Most foods that are processed typically tend to lack key nutrients such as fiber, vitamin B and minerals. Fiber is a crucial part of health for lowering your risk of chronic diseases such as Cardiovascular Disease, type 2 Diabetes and obesity. it also contributes to a healthier heart by lowering cholesterol and decreasing constipation with bowel regularity.

Fiber is found in plant-based food items such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. The american Dietary guidelines recommends your plate be filled half with fruits and vegetables, which equals about 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

5. Optimize by eating less Animal Protein. The average american eats about 12 ounces of animal protein per day when the recommendation for the average person is 5-6 ounces per day. Animal Protein pertains to beef, chicken, pork, fish and lamb. The human body can only utilize so much protein per individual so any protein in excess turns into fat and potentially damages organs in the long run.

6. Optimize by staying hydrated. Drinking water is an aspect of health we often overlook, but is very beneficial to creating good health. The benefits include promoting weight loss by increasing your metabolism, boosting your immune system and helping keep your organs functioning at their best. For an individualized recommendation of fluid intake needed per day, take your body weight in pounds and divide by two to get the amount of water you need in a day.