There was a blurb on the radio this morning about the benefits of eating breakfast and as I drove in to work, munching roasted almonds (a habit I’ve kept from my pregnant days as a good way to get the metabolism going first thing in the morning), I found myself thinking deeply about nutrition. Thinking about how food works for me as an adult, what I would say to someone seeking advice about good eating habits even though mine are mediocre these days (and I’m currently packing more junk in the trunk than I want to be dragging around), about how best to meet the nutritional needs of Forrest as he gets older and transitions to big people food… Full disclosure as I write this – that picture above was my breakfast. My lunch will be better.
So. My Metabolism is a factory that processes food and supplies my body with fuel. Food in, fuel out. When I eat something, my Metabolism Factory assesses the incoming food and starts processing – say I’m eating the almonds for example, and not the cookie – water and nutrients like fats, proteins, and carbs are pulled out and sent out to my body. My Metabolism Factory has to assess the *needs* of my body too as that food comes in – body has just run 5 miles (HA!), needs quick burst of carbs to refuel immediately, send those out. Muscles need some protein? Out it goes. Body has been sitting at desk all day, little energy spent but still eating a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie… well, maybe a few cells needs some quick carbs but now there’s a glut of unnecessary fuel so Metabolism naturally puts that extra fuel into storage. As FAT. Darn that Metabolism.
(Yes, I realize this is all really simplified, not particularly scientific or biologically accurate, and rather silly, but it’s the image I had in my head this morning. I also realize everyone’s body is a bit different and our Metabolism Factories can function in slightly different ways, but this is how I see *MY* Factory)
My Metabolism Factory generally knows how much fuel I need in a typical day and as long as I’m helping out on my end, the Factory supplies my body as needed, sends out the waste, and doesn’t have much extra to store. While I was breastfeeding my Factory had trouble keeping up and had to dip into my storage – yay! (oh thighs, how I miss those days!). I know if I sabotage my Factory I pay for it: if I skip a meal, I can cause my Metabolism to go into a panic – “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Incoming fuel has decreased! Emergency rations only, put some fuel into storage (FAT) for future use in case this happens again!” With time, or if my body is really working hard, that storage will eventually be put to use and fat will be burned but that first panic is the doozy, the “I expected fuel when it was supposed to arrive then it didn’t and will more fuel be coming must squirrel it away just in case!” panic. Hence, for me, bigger thighs. Anyway!
I do eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies when I’m on top of my Metabolism Factory needs. Like above. Isn’t it pretty?
All of this led to thinking about Forrest’s needs. His little factory currently functions primarily on formula with the addition of fruits, veggies, and some carbs. His protein source is the formula but that will be gradually changing to milk, meat, cheese, etc. as he passes the 1-year mark (in a week, eek!). I want his Factory to be efficient, to use what he needs and not put a lot of extra into storage (no more than typical baby fat needs, of course). That means I need to be in charge of what he eats, right? And make sure to give him lots of ways to stay active, right? More of the immediate above, less of the cookies, fries, crackers, sitting stationary and general junk. Of course he gets a little junk even now, it makes life and food more interesting, but my goal is to set his little body off on the right course. Someday he’ll be in charge of his own Factory but for now it’s me.
And I don’t want to mess it up.
(If you actually made it this far, sorry for being so long-winded – you’re a trooper. And thanks for letting me share a small taste of my oddball thought processes. = )