What is Nutrition? – A Chef’s View

Put in simple terms, nutrition is the way the body uses food. Every living thing needs food and water to survive. Food provides the body with both energy and nutrients. The energy we get from food enables us to do our day-to-day activities and the nutrients we get from food helps us sustain a healthy body. Food is the common denominator. It is the fuel on which the body runs. Without enough food you don’t have enough energy.

Knowing this, it stands to reason that the better the food, the better the nutrients, the better our bodies will perform.

Food / Nutrition Science

Food is made up of 2 distinct types of nutrients:

  • Macronutrients like protein, fat, carbohydrates and water
  • Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals

Remember the old saying, “You are what you eat”? It’s completely spot on. The body is built from the all of the above nutrients and needs all of the above nutrients to function.

Proteins create new cells in the body, which make it possible for you to perform basic bodily functions like seeing, thinking, hearing and moving. Although protein does give you energy, it takes a long time to metabolize it. That’s where carbs come in.  Proteins are especially important after your workout because they repair the muscle tissue that just got beat up.

Carbohydrates sometimes get a bad rap. Many people mistakenly think of carbs as ‘fattening’ and try to avoid them at all costs. In fact, people can better control their weight by selecting high carb, high fiber foods (think fruit, veg & whole grains, not necessarily pasta and potatoes) but limiting their fat-rich foods. The majority of your energy comes from your carbohydrates however if your diet provides more carbs than you need and you haven’t burned the additional calories not used as energy, the excess will be stored as fat.

Speaking of which, here’s a sentence you probably never thought you’d see, ‘A healthy body needs fat’. There are good and bad fats. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are known as the “better” fats, which can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed in moderation. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. The body has visible fat i.e. that which is visible on the body and invisible fat, which is the fat that surrounds and protects our organs inside us. Getting the right amount of fat in your diet is a balancing act. Too much fat will increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes amongst others.  Too little fat can affect children’s growth, our immune system, skin and vision. Your body doesn’t need saturated fats, bad cholesterol (LDL) or trans fats from food so keep these to a minimum.

All foods have fat but foods like fruits and veg, whole grains, fish, low fat dairy products and skinless poultry generally have good quality and are low-fat. Steer clear of butter, lard and processed foods like cakes, some breads, canned or frozen meats and dishes.

The key here is to be sensible and knowledgeable so YOU know if you should or shouldn’t be eating something.

Cooking and Nutrition

From my point of view as a chef, I promote cooking food that actually comes from the ground as opposed to a box and naturally raised grass fed meat, poultry and wild seafood. Some people associate cooking healthy food as boring and tasteless but I’m here to show you how to cook tasty, easy to do, flavorful and most importantly healthy food.

Cooking changes the way food feels, looks, tastes and smells. Ever smell a fragrant aroma coming from the kitchen that puts a smile on your face? My goal is for you to enjoy eating and cooking healthy food and most importantly enjoy being healthy overall.
If you have any food questions please leave a comment below and let’s all help each other to eat healthy.

If you want to find more of my healthy recipes or even for some reason want to know more about me, don’t be shy.

Gavan Murphy

I’m an Irishman who is passionate about healthy cooking. What's an Irishman know about healthy food? I trained at the infamous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. Situated in the middle of a 100 acre farm, half of which is organic today, Ballymaloe was a pioneer in sustainable cooking. What was grown on the farm and what was locally reared is what we used in our cooking and what we ate. I learned the importance of eating fresh, farm to table food and the importance of using quality ingredients including meats. Los Angeles, being the Mecca of health and fitness (I saw that at Gold’s Gym) was the perfect destination to continue my career in healthy cooking. I began working for a number of prestigious L.A. based catering companies and was hired as a consulting chef on the Body-for-Life Program for EAS, a multinational sports and nutrition company. My recipes have been published in books and magazines and I’m a regular contributor to other websites. You name it, I do it, all in the sake of healthy eating. And I still find time to provide recipes for our blog, which is now a part of my site. My focus and passion remain the same with everything I do: to show people that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and healthy food doesn’t mean bland or boring. I advocate buying local, seasonal and sustainable foods and I encourage people to get away from the convenient “out of a box” food and to get back to the basics of home cooking. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t have to be flashy, just damn tasty! And that’s what an Irishman knows about healthy food. GavanMurphy.com. Twitter: @healthyirishman Facebook: thehealthyirishman

One thought on “What is Nutrition? – A Chef’s View

  • February 19, 2013 at 4:08 am

    I just recently joined your fabulous blog ..savoured your versatile egg crêpes…and have enjoyed reading your background and that of your “missus”. Question…While I myself follow a basically primal/paleo way of eating…my French husband is reticent about it and truly loves his white potatoes, croissant et baguette. While I love(d) those foods..they seem to wreak havoc on my personal metabolism..creating lots of abdominal bloating and nearly instant weight gain…and tonight…après-ski…he wants to to out to the “Refuge to Floriment” for a vacherin/comté/gruyère fondue!!

    Gaah!! He knows that since eliminating most starches and dairy…that this is truly the “Anti-Paleo” type (read Anti-Christ) type fare for me…but he insists on the whole Tartiflette/Fondue/Raclette genre de cuisine in the winter! I read that your love is actually vegetarian…How do you personally address the differences in your nutrition choices?..Is this difficult…or do you have “meals of concession” to each others’ choices?…I find this area sometimes difficult to navigate since there are so many cultural and familial implications in the seemingly simple event of a shared family meal. Any insights? Much respect for you, your wife, your site..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *