You ARE what you eat. Many of us have heard this age-old adage throughout our lives. Yet, how many of us take the time to truly internalize it? If I really am what I eat, is it so horrid that I might be a chocolate bar, bowl of ice cream, or a four-cheese pasta dish?
Technically, it would seem more appealing for me to be a Toblerone Bar than a bright red pepper, but which is better for me? Of course, we know that healthy eating is always a better choice, but it can be so hard. We all have very demanding lifestyles. Our fast culture often necessitates that we buy into the need for fast information, fast communication, fast results, and fast food. Sometimes it is so much easier to pick up a bucket of fried chicken on the way home from work or order a pizza than take the time to prepare a healthy meal for my family. I am so tired that the thought of chopping vegetables and seasoning chicken is just too much for me. Yet, the irony is that, when I do take the time to feed myself and my family in a healthy way, I have more energy to continue to do the same. It is a cycle. The healthy or unhealthy eating cycle – when you make unhealthy choices, it lowers your energy, causing you to make more unhealthy food choices. On the other hand, if you make healthy food choices, it increases your energy and makes it easier to continue to choose healthy foods.
Another reality of choosing healthy food is the emotional implications of healthy eating versus unhealthy eating. For whatever reasons, most of us have been conditioned to believe that healthy eating is a punishment and unhealthy eating is the joyous eating that we should be entitled to. Would you throw rocks into the gas tank of your car? Rocks in your gas tank is like junk food in your body. Why is it that we would never throw rocks into our car engines, but we are happy to throw empty calories into our bodies and even believe we are entitled to have them? I believe if we were to change our attitude towards food, and see healthy foods as positive fuel and unhealthy foods as punishments that drag us down, perhaps it would be easier to commit ourselves to healthier eating. When we make these choices, we are modeling healthy eating for our families, and we are creating healthier futures for ourselves. Imagine what the states of the health of Americans would be like if we grabbed apples, celery and garden salads in moments of celebration instead of ice cream and cake!
I do not expect an immediate revolution, but continued awareness and a change in our emotional connections with food will go a long way in helping to make our society healthier.
Today, 327 days ’til 40, I am committing to keeping my relationship with food in check. Am I eating for the right reasons? Am I making food choices that are in the best health interest of myself and family? Can I learn to love red peppers as much as chocolate? Can I afford not to learn?
March 31, 2012 at 00:53
Yeah, the whole eating-as-a-form-of-self-denial will always land you in trouble, and any effort to change your diet based on that form of thinking will often fail.
You have to reframe your thinking.
Instead of, “I won’t eat pizza because it’s high in saturated fats and it’ll go straight to my thighs”
Try this: “I’m going to eat grilled chicken and brown rice because it’ll give me more energy.”
Like all things, as you reframe your thinking over time you will change the way you think, and then eating healthy changes from a burden to a delight.
March 31, 2012 at 04:26
Yes, yes! Great way of reframing thoughts and you are so correct….this makes a huge difference! Thank you! 😉
March 31, 2012 at 21:36
That is so perfect. I am guilty of the very thing 400days mentioned…rewarding myself with unhealthy foods, rather than healthier ones. And your example spells it out perfectly. Thanks
April 28, 2012 at 19:28
I totally agree with “rabidmongoose” – if I talk garbage to myself (oh, this is “bad” for me), then I get nowhere. But when I remind myself that I feel better, perform better, am a better friend and lover, am more fulfilled, when I eat healthier, well, it IS easier.
Sometimes a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate fits into that paradigm, too, so it isn’t about self-punishment, nor is it about a reward system, it is more about what my body/mind need to function the best in that moment.
April 28, 2012 at 20:40
Yes, such a good point! It is true that positive self talk reaps far more benefits than negative self talk…… if only it came more naturally!
March 31, 2012 at 00:57
This is such a struggle in today’s society and especially America 😦 I really enjoy eating healthy…my issue is more of the cost. I really have to plan ahead to afford it all. I usually take lunch to school and work but the days I forget! I struggle with buying something healthy (expensive!) or getting the cheap fast food. For me it is always a fight of time and budget…which of course time is another societal issue…like you said we live in a fast pace world so why not get the fast food?
About the ice cream and cake…I feel that these are not bad indulgences if we maintain a healthy diet on a regular basic. It is all about moderation (it can’t be put more plain than that, in my opinion). Also a homemade cake over a store bought cake is definitely going to be healthier on the body but you have to plan ahead and you have to have time….ugh! The battle of life 🙂
March 31, 2012 at 04:25
Wonderful points and SO true… It is sad that healthy food costs more…. Salads should not cost more than hamburgers!
March 31, 2012 at 13:27
Do you know http://35aweek.com/? All recipes on this site are low-cost and a lot of them don’t take that much time! (It’s not my own blog, I do have lots of great recipes but fortunately I don’t have to worry as much about the cost and I make lots of time for cooking.)
April 1, 2012 at 12:52
Thanks for the great resource!!!
March 31, 2012 at 01:11
Honest, I doubt that you will like red peppers so much as chocolate – but why not have them both.
There is a place and time for chocolate too. I think we have become some real freaks when it’s about we should eat and not eat. Think we can eat anything we want, but not on the same time.
Fruit and vegetables – important, but they are so manipulated – same with our dairy products – first they kill all the natural vitamins when processing and after that they put in new *smile
One day we can eat this .. and not that – next day we get cancer from both.
Was going to set up a juice bar – help your self and we wanted to have notice about how good the all different juice was and what they contained. Only one juice that are good for us – cranberry – the rest – forget. Real dangerous to drink. *smile – Do you eat a grapefruit every day – a big chance you as a woman that will you increase your chances to get breast cancer. So NO notices and no juice bar neither. We should eat little of everything we like – and then we will die much happier.
March 31, 2012 at 04:23
Very very good points! Yes “healthy” foods are often modified so much they are worse than sugar! BUT I think I could love peppers as much as chocolate! 😉
An Unrefined Vegan
March 31, 2012 at 01:14
So true! I often use the gas tank analogy. Why do we think what we put into our bodies has no effect (good or bad)? Here’s a quote I came across in a recent article about veganism: “Food is not something you can isolate with having no consequences. Actually, it’s pretty amazing. It comes down to how every morsel you eat affects how you feel, affects the pathological process, even affects whether a gene that predisposes you to cancer or other diseases will activate and come into reality.” – Dr. Lu-Jean Feng
March 31, 2012 at 04:20
Thank you for sharing the great quote! I love using the gas tank analogy!
March 31, 2012 at 01:51
I’m a red pepper? I’d rather be a ‘shroom.
March 31, 2012 at 04:18
Haha… Love it!
Michelle's Cookie-Cutter Blog
March 31, 2012 at 01:52
Agree completely with this post! I started out a very picky eater, consuming mostly processed foods with no desire at all to cook or eat healthy food. Fortunately, my partner grew up with parents who had a big, one acre garden and he learned to appreciate delicious good-for-you food. He taught me to cook and eventually, I became so interested in nutrition, I took classes and earned a degree in nutrition science.
At this point, its not hard for us to eat healthy, because we couldn’t do it any other way. We know how to use good ingredients to make tasty dishes, so why eat the bad stuff? Btw, I consider ice cream, chocolate, and cookies all to be “the good stuff” so long as they’re made with good ingredients (my blog’s partially focused on yummy baked treats!). Just all in moderation. I’d even argue that you don’t have to love red peppers as much as chocolate. You’ve just got to make sure your pepper-to-chocolate ratio heavily favors peppers 😉 I love swiss chard, but I’ll always love cake a whole lot more!
March 31, 2012 at 04:18
Great comment…. And I agree…I will often eat healthier versions of traditional junk food. Great alternative!
March 31, 2012 at 02:19
I completely agree with you! We have been conditioned to feel deprived if we eat healthy, like we are missing out on the “good stuff” when in reality, the good stuff is the veggies and healthy foods we tend to shun. Our bodies WANT to work for us and we are amazingly adaptable. If we will fuel our bodies with nutritious food, the cravings for the junk WILL go away and we will have so much more energy and life to enjoy every day. This was a great post. Kudos!
March 31, 2012 at 04:16
So true… After a month of eating healthy all my cravings disappeared! 😉
March 31, 2012 at 02:29
I like reading your articles.
I always get a little startled when your page comes up because we have the same theme..
It takes me a second of “I don’t remember writing this!” before I sort it all out…lol…
March 31, 2012 at 04:15
March 31, 2012 at 02:37
It’s all true, we ARE what we eat. I’ve been a health nut since about 16, which was a very long time ago. I slip, I enjoy good nasty stuff, but 95% or more of the time, I eat healthful food. The reason you need to do this, just wait for the countdown to 50! There is now a huge percentage of people under 40 that are on some kind of horrid medication that they will need to take the rest of their life. Most horrifying, they are O.K. with that! My step-son lost his leg to Diabetes and he was in his early 30’s, still eats like shit, deep fried life, oh, on-a-stick. If you don’t have your health, you have lost a lot. Excuse me, I’m going to go have a glass of wine now. ;- )
March 31, 2012 at 04:14
I agree. I have been off and on and what a difference when I am on!
March 31, 2012 at 02:39
Dark chocolate is very good for you by the way! Just watch the sugar content.
March 31, 2012 at 04:13
March 31, 2012 at 03:11
That’s why I’m vegan!!! 😉
March 31, 2012 at 03:12
A great reminder for me to refocus!
March 31, 2012 at 04:18
that is so true about being conditioned to think that healthy eating is a punishment…i had never thought of that before. there is food for thought (pun intended) the struggle i have with healthy food is, it is so bland, unhealthy food tastes better. ha
March 31, 2012 at 04:32
Thank you! 😉
March 31, 2012 at 04:36
Luckily, there are so many healthy things that are really tasty! Treats every now and again are fine — but that’s because they’re treats, indulgences — luxuries.
Dark chocolate is a daily requirement around here, though; I buy big bags of small squares, and we’ll each have one for dessert.
March 31, 2012 at 12:41
I am smiling because I just ate a dark chocolate (no sugar added) square before I sat down to answer your comment!!! 😉
zen and the art of borderline maintenance
March 31, 2012 at 06:38
I nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award, which I included in yesterday’s post. Thanks for your inspiring posts, as always.
March 31, 2012 at 12:38
Why, thank you so much!!! 😉
zen and the art of borderline maintenance
March 31, 2012 at 12:44
You’re welcome. I think you have great spirit. It really shows. I admire all the hard work you put into your blog. That inspires me, too! 🙂
March 31, 2012 at 12:48
Thank you so much! It is a lot of work, but I love to write and I love challenges, so it is really fun. That said, there are the random days when I think, “Did I REALLY commit to blogging for 400 days straight???? 🙂
zen and the art of borderline maintenance
March 31, 2012 at 12:49
But doesn’t it show you that you’re made of more than you thought? 🙂 You’re doing a great job! It is really fun, and I agree very challenging. Ideas, ideas, ideas!
March 31, 2012 at 08:30
Been trying to adjust the eating and physical activity habits for a bit myself, could not agree with you more!
I think eating good, nutritional food on a daily basis is a great practice and eat the goodies you love in between, every now and again because of course all things to be sustained and worthwhile should be in moderation.
Here’s hoping we can both keep at it! 🙂
March 31, 2012 at 12:35
Yes, exactly! And, yes good luck to you too as you work to keep at it…. so far so good for me….. though sometimes I have to watch the sugar free sweets (also not good for you)….. and when you have too many, REALLY not good for you!!! 😉
March 31, 2012 at 10:16
Eating healthy – and local and seasonal, can be simple and delicious. Essentially it’s a choice. And if bad and good can be kept out of it, it’s even simpler. I prefer to look at it in ‘what works and what doesn’t’ way! Both in terms of my health and the planet.
March 31, 2012 at 12:34
What a great way to look at it! And fresh foods in season are even better… I agree, we need to get away from good and bad and can and can’t and just focus on healthy eating!
March 31, 2012 at 10:16
Today’s is an important message! I think we all need to listen to our bodies. I usually feel terrible after eating fast food and sugar… yet I’m still tempted! 🙂
March 31, 2012 at 12:33
Me too!! Sad that we are tempted by something that makes us feel so bad!
March 31, 2012 at 13:23
Totally agree: food should be joyous AND healthy. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t!
Another rule I have: I only eat less-healthy food if it’s REALLY good. So if something unhealthy isn’t even that delicious, I’ll stop eating it.
P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
April 1, 2012 at 12:53
Yes, great point… I do that too! If a food that is unhealthy is going into my body than it better REALLY be worth it!
ahmrita natural mental health
March 31, 2012 at 14:47
Reading this brings back memories of my chocaholic days, thinking back it was awful. I would just go into a freakout if i could not find any chocolate in the house. My great naturopath back then gave me a homeopathic remedy to help me stop. After 2 weeks of headaches it was all good. That’s, hm 26 years ago. Today i might have a bit of dark chocolate a few times a year, just for the taste 🙂 As you said in your blog – once we eat well we don’t have cravings for treats all the time.
April 1, 2012 at 12:51
Wow, what great inspiration your comment is!!! It is so great to hear that you have kept it up for so many years!!
March 31, 2012 at 14:54
Great post. Thanks for stopping by my page.
I totally agree with you. If we spent more time focused on what we put in our bodies than actually putting it into our bodies, our once great nation would not have so much extra girth. I can only imaging if more people took the time to grow and prepare their own food, that they would benefit many times over. Even the city dwellers with a balcony could produce enough to supplement our daily intake. No balcony? Heard of a community garden? Great! Now go start one.
April 1, 2012 at 12:49
March 31, 2012 at 15:03
I LOVE pictures of vegetables with their vibrant colors…I would not mind being that beautiful red pepper! Makes me wonder if that has anything to do with my liking vegetables???
April 1, 2012 at 12:48
I do too…. Hmmmm maybe color connections do affect our draw to certain foods….. Oh no, my youngest daughter’s favorite color is brown!! Rid the house of chocolate!!?m. 😉
April 1, 2012 at 15:23
March 31, 2012 at 20:41
There definitely is an energy-food connection. Also important to consider is where did it come from? How was it grown? How did it get to your plate and how far did it travel to get there? Our choices affect our planet as well. I admire your challenge in taking on this task of self-inquiry on your way to turning 40. And, being on the “other” side of 40, I can tell you that it rocks! I’m also glad you liked my recipes for Oatmeal and Black Bean Enchiladas.
April 1, 2012 at 12:43
Thank you…. And I love almost any recipe with black beans! 🙂
March 31, 2012 at 21:43
Hi 400days, thanks so much for liking my post (My First Blog Award). I love the concept of your blog and am your newest follower. I’m guilty of so many of a few of the things you mentioned and your words have put some of them in perspective. I’m not a horrible eater, I love veggies, fruit and organic items more than the average person, but I ruin a whole month’s worth of consistency with my overindulgent sweet tooth! I like the above comment about changing your mentality regarding food and I plan on using it. Thanks again! I look forward to more…
April 1, 2012 at 12:42
Thank you…. My sweet tooth has been a huge challenge for me too.
March 31, 2012 at 21:58
I think I’ll become a bowl of Jewish Chicken Soup (Jewish penicillin). Healthy and never get sick again. Wanna join me?
April 1, 2012 at 12:40
This made me smile!! Thanks! Yum…. Chicken soup!
March 31, 2012 at 22:48
I follow your blog regularly..and find so much in it that I have thought about or thinking presently…very similar thoughts..but u express it very nicely..I have nominated you to sunshine award that I came across..
April 1, 2012 at 12:39
Why thank you very much!!! 🙂
April 1, 2012 at 01:41
So true.Thanks for posting this..I am food lover so 🙂 .You definitely break down the whole “food matters” idea that so many people are ignoring.Good job!
April 1, 2012 at 12:32
April 1, 2012 at 14:36
I am a chocolate bar!
Thanks for liking my Marmalade Cake Bars xx
April 2, 2012 at 05:17
April 2, 2012 at 01:23
Even being a Long-time Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian, Sometimes Ugly Choices Rear Their Heads.
Quick Burn and Long-term Burn for the Better?
April 2, 2012 at 05:07
Exactly! I find that I eat the worst of my good food choices whenever
I need to binge….. with any eating patterns we somehow manage to indulge
April 2, 2012 at 15:11
Great post! Healthy eating is all a part of taking care of ourselves – if we are happy to live on poor quality junk food, what does that say about our view of ourselves? Whilst there is a balance in which its OK to enjoy unhealthy food from time to time, if we really value ourselves then we will limit the unhealthy and relish the good stuff! Plus, if you are after 40, it seems to reflect in the waistline so much longer!!!
April 3, 2012 at 04:27
April 2, 2012 at 21:27
Funny how we fill ourselves with junk until we start to get older and realise it’s not so good when bits start breaking isn’t it!
It’s true you are what you eat. It’s also a shame I ate that slightly overweight sarcastic thirty-something feminist. Should have gone with the salad 🙂
April 3, 2012 at 04:16
Thank you for the great laugh I got today from your comment!!!! 🙂 You have a great sense of humor!