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?