Faces of NYCM: Daily Nutrition Tips Guided by our Fitness Coordinator/Trainer, Karen Fagan - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Mar 3, 2021

Faces of NYCM: Daily Nutrition Tips Guided by our Fitness Coordinator/Trainer, Karen Fagan

Nutrition and healthy eating are often hot topics of discussion. Nutrition isn’t something that is formally taught in our schools, and when searching online, finding science-based and reliable information can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. We sat down with our corporate Fitness Coordinator/Trainer, Karen Fagan, to discuss nutrition and what it really looks like for the average person.


Karen has worked as NYCM’s Fitness Coordinator/Trainer for almost ten years. In addition to 25 years of experience in fitness and nutrition, she has a master’s degree in exercise-science and is certified in nutrition. 


When asked the question “What does nutrition really look like for the everyday person?” Karen responds, “It’s a hard question to answer honestly. So many people  justifiably want the right answer laid out in front of them. In truth, nutrition is going to look different for each individual person because our bodies and our lives are different.” Karen went on to explain that this doesn’t mean that there are no rules or that there aren’t healthy vs unhealthy foods. It just means that the journey to health and nutrition is going to look different for everyone. That being said, everyone is capable of incorporating nutrition into their everyday lives. Continue reading for more information.


Start With Breakfast

One of the biggest questions surrounding health and nutrition is how to fit them into your daily routine.  To that, Karen says she always starts with breakfast. “Rather than restricting the food that might not necessarily be good for us, we start by adding in nutrient-rich sides.” For example, if you’re used to bacon and pancakes for breakfast, maybe include a side of fruit, or yogurt. Each day, plan to slowly replace items that are not so healthy for us with nutrient-rich substitutes. “Starting the day with a healthier breakfast will make it easier psychologically to continue making healthier choices throughout the day.  We don’t want to restrict ourselves, we want to inverse our intake to reflect more of what we need and less of what we don’t.”


Stay Consistent

With all of the misinformation surrounding health and nutrition, it can be difficult to determine what key factors are going to play a role in your success.  One critical component of that success is going to be consistency. “Just like our minds, our bodies crave consistency.” Karen states. The human body doesn’t know how to handle skipped meals or an inconsistent diet. This type of behavior can lead our bodies to go into starvation mode. “Consistency in meal times, as well as in the types of food we are eating, will help our bodies build the trust that is necessary to function properly.”


Incorporate Clean Eating 

“Clean Eating” is a lifestyle based on the goal of removing processed foods from our diets. This will mostly consist of eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. The goal is to live this lifestyle around 80% of the time to help promote a lifetime of commitment to your healthiest self. 


Karen talks about the importance of noting that clean eating doesn’t have to equate to organic or homegrown food. “While that sort of luxury might be an option for some, for others it’s not realistic.” She then goes on to share that even she doesn’t usually choose organic produce because it is often too expensive. This can be especially true if you need to feed multiple people within a family. “If it’s within your budget and your goal is to eliminate as much risk of chemicals as possible, then go for it! But at the end of the day, an apple, whether it’s organic or not, is going to be better for you than a donut.”


Maintain Healthy Portion Control 

It’s important to know that portion recommendations are going to be different based on each individual person. Portion recommendation will be based on your age, weight, gender, activity level as well as your own personal goals. “Nutrition is never one-size-fits-all,”  Karen reminds us. In general, she suggests researching generalized portion recommendations and adjusting over time as needed. 


For example, you might consider the below portions as a starting point. If you happen to be very active, you can lean towards the upper end of the scale. If you tend to be less active, try leaning towards the lower:


Whole Grains - 1/2 cup to 1 cup per meal

Good Fats - 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon 2x per day

Lean Protein 2 to 4 ounces per meal 

Fruits -  2 pieces of whole fruits or 1/2 cup to 1 cup twice per day

Vegetables - 1 cup to 2 cups at all main meals

Be Aware of Mealtimes

“It’s important that you eat once every four hours.” Karen informs us. “Five small meals per day is best for the average person. The proper timing in which you introduce meals will be key in preventing you from overeating, skipping meals, and feeling fatigued or jittery from unstable blood sugar levels,” she explains.


Build Around Your Reality

Building your nutrition plan around your typical daily routine will be more beneficial to you than trying to implement an entirely new diet and routine all at once. Start by looking for items within your current diet that you can easily swap out for healthier, cleaner options. Consider taking a look at the types of food you already like to eat and building around that. If you're a fan of eggs with breakfast, you could try preparing egg whites as a substitute. “In the end, we want to choose food for our health.” Karen explains. “When we do this, our risk of diseases goes down, and our energy goes up. We want to find foods that make us feel good.”


Take a Mindful Approach

If you are struggling between prioritizing nutrition and fitness, it’s important to know that nutrition should come first. “ It doesn’t make sense to run yourself in the ground trying to burn calories we didn’t need in the first place.” Karen explained. “Taking a mindful approach to health in general, focusing more on how you feel, and where your energy levels are- will take you so much further than focusing on counting calories or the scale,” Karen continued. “We want to eat to stay healthy.”

Know Your Resources 

We all know that it can be incredibly difficult to find reliable, science-based information that we need in order to succeed on our health and nutrition journey.


Truth be told, not everyone is going to be able to afford a personal nutritionist or coach. To aid in your own nutrition journey, here are a few reliable and science-based resources that Karen suggests:


For individuals who are looking for ways to properly fuel workouts, click here.


For those looking for more information on clean eating, click here for a downloadable guide.

Now that you have the necessary information needed to start creating a nutrition plan that works for you, you might be interested in learning more about what it means to build a wellness routine. Check out the link below for more information!