Saturday, June 15, 2013

You Are What You Eat

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” ---Dr. Ann Wigmore

The first time I saw that quote, it felt like I could almost literally see the little cartoon light bulb pop up above my head! I stood there staring at the words and reading them over and over. It hit a nerve because I happened to be on a quest to find a better, natural way to deal with some things that bother me about my body.

  • I’m a carb junkie. I love bread, sweets and other things that contain simple carbs. I know this about myself but hadn’t figured out how to curb the cravings.
  • I’ve gained 20 pounds over the past 5 years, and I DON’T WANT THEM!
  • I was diagnosed with asthma 12 or so years ago and prescribed a steroid to inhale twice a day – for the rest of my life - as a way to manage it.

Getting myself to the gym and through a workout has never been a problem for me. I truly enjoy exercising and have made it a priority most of my life. Unfortunately, regular exercise is only half the formula for being healthy. According to some articles I’ve read recently, it’s actually less than half. The way you eat is 80% of the reason your body is what it is and does what it does.

When I take an honest inventory of my habits, I can see it’s no wonder I’ve gained weight and crave carbs. When I was a child, I ate three meals each day and maybe a small snack or two. The meals mostly consisted of food that was prepared at home and eaten at a table, and the snacks were things like an apple, some cheese, or maybe a (ONE) small cookie sometimes. I was also constantly in motion and living in the moment.

As an adult, I’ve formed habits of eating for convenience or indulgence. I pack so many things into a day that I often multi-task (who else eats while they’re working or driving?). Then, to “treat” myself when I finally have some down time, I eat high-calorie, low-nutrient comfort foods. I pack most of my daily activity into an hour at the gym, and instead of living in the moment, I’m planning for or worrying about the next thing.

It’s not hard to learn how to eat right. Tons of information is at our fingertips. The hard part is forming new habits. It requires planning and being intentional about knowing what I’m putting in my body. One way I’ve tried to get started is to think of it as getting back to basics – eat the way my mom made me eat as a child. Here are some guidelines I think are good ideas:
  1. eat food you prepared yourself as much as possible
  2. eat as little processed food as possible
  3. eat smaller portions
  4. know what you’re putting in your mouth (if you can’t pronounce it or know where it came from it probably isn’t a good thing to eat). 
Society today makes it easy and cheap to eat things that aren’t good for our bodies. After all, it’s easier and cheaper to drive through McDonalds and grab a chemical/preservative-filled hamburger than to plan, shop for and prepare a meal. But that's the mindset that keeps the drug companies in business. In our world it’s easy to "break it", because we have “professionals” to “fix it”. Common sense, however, should tell us it’s better to not break it in the first place. 

As far as living in the moment and enjoying every day, that’s a great topic for another post!

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