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Nutrition for joyful movement

Posted By Brittany Andreola  

The sun is shining, and the warmth on our skin feels lovely – thawing us out from a long cold winter.


With moving into the warmer time of the year, may come sensations and thoughts of feeling like moving the body. Maybe being outside more and wanting to stretch, move and re engage with the body in joyful ways. It may be tinkering in the garden – or a complete garden overhaul! It may be more time outdoors, at the beach, walking rather than taking the car. It may be more planned and deliberate movement if you enjoy the challenge of pushing your body and muscles. It may be a group sport so you can connect with friends and be social while moving your body.  


Joyful movement will look different for everyone; what feels good for one body will be different for another.


When it comes to movement, how are you going with nourishing and fuelling your body for your new adventures or movement? Is this something you have thought about? 


Fuelling the body with nutrition to allow it to function how it needs to be able to keep yourself involved in movement, injury free, preventing early fatigue, normal hormone function, promoting good recovery times, reducing becoming unwell and the frequency of illness, and preventing low energy availability. None of these we want to experience, but how do you prevent this from happening?


 But before we continue, I want you to start to think about a car, how does it function, how does it keep going?


Before engaging in exercise, it is important to make sure you have the building blocks in place. So, thinking about how you nourish your body your day-to-day .Eating regularly and adequately to nourish the body is extremely important! This is something that needs to be kept up to ensure the body is nourished and ready to engage in the exercise you are wishing to be involved in. The nuts and bolts of the car, if you may like to think about it.


Now moving to when you are about to go out and go on that hike or head out for that run, it is important to fuel the body! Just like when we top up the car before a long road trip, we need to top up our body to get the best out of us! Aiming to get some form of carbohydrates into the body is important. As the body likes to run on carbohydrates and not other sources (they take too long to break down during exercise). Thinking crumpets with jam, muesli bar, fruit and yoghurt, sandwich with honey are just a few ideas! But it could be anything that is containing carbs.


On finishing your run or hike, we need to allow the body to recover. There are 4 R’s to be thinking about.


Refuel = topping your fuel stores back up! Aka carbs!

Rehydrate = replacing the fluids that are lost while exercising. This can be harder to determine on colder days, but the weather can affect this. Think fluids!

Repair = muscle repair, growth and adaptation. Aka protein!

Revitalise = protecting the body from damage that happens as a result of exercise. Think fruit, vegetables, fats, nuts and seeds!


So as you can imagine we are sometimes looking for a meal here or a reasonable snack. You need to have something to support the body, the muscule and fuel stores,  to  recover from the joyful movement you have engaged in, This is like the service and tune up that keeps the car going, just like how this keeps us going for the next time you exercise.


Remembering that we are all individual and all our bodies function differently so we need to be curious and experiment with what suits our body. What works for you before a hike, may not work for someone else and that is completely normal and OK. Try experimenting with different sources of fuel and recovery foods that work best for you.


When it comes to the “how much” question it is best to discuss movement plans with your dietitian to ensure that you are nourishing your body adequately.


*If you are in recovery from disordered eating or an eating disorder and your treatment team has suggested boundaries on movement to protect you and challenge compulsive movement, please make sure you talk to your team before engaging any new movement.


* Our relationship with movement can be varied and complicated; it may be intertwined with past diet and body trauma. Go slow, comment, and listen to your body. Be curious about thoughts, feeling and sensations that may arise and discuss them with your support network.