First, a few things that I don’t believe in: Guilt, Diets, Scales and 100 Calorie Packs. Now that I’ve got that out there, here’s what I do believe…
1. You are what you eat. Literally. The food we eat gets digested and absorbed and used to make new cells, tissues, stomach lining, blood, skin, hair fingernails… When old cells die they’re replaced with new ones. It’s a continuous process. And when we feed our bodies foods that support healthy cellular growth, you can see it on the outside with healthy looking skin, hair and nails. That simple. Every second of every day we’re shedding old cells and creating new ones. So when you think of it that way, every day is a new chance to change your diet and your body for the better.
2. Your body is telling you something. You just have to listen. Our bodies are constantly sending us signals but all too often we skip right over them or worse, shut them up with an Advil. Instead, listen to the messages your body is sending. It may be telling you to slow down, or that didn’t work so well, or that feels great! Tune in to the signals and use them to treat yourself better.
3. Counting calories is a waste of time. What is a calorie anyway? If you want to get specific, a calorie is the amount of energy required raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by one degree. Way too scientific if you ask me. Food is food, it shouldn’t be rocket science. So why do we insist on making it out to be? I’m not saying go out and eat a Value Meal. Calories don’t matter! No. The calorie is good for just what it is – a guide for the energy value of food. But we’ve taken it to the extreme and become calorie-obsessed. We spend twice as much money for a smaller quantity of food just because it comes in a 100 calorie pack. Pay no mind to the laundry list of ingredients we can’t pronounce. But it was only 100 calories! Which brings me to number 4…
4. Know what you’re eating. Be a food detective. If there’s anything in the ingredient list that you can’t pronounce or rhymes with blahgogenated, don’t eat it. It also matters how your food is grown and raised. Find out if it’s conventional or organic, local or farm raised, caged or pastured, grain or grass fed. It matters.
5. Food is powerful. We underestimate it. Maybe it’s because of all the drugs we have nowadays and all the messages and advertisements that come with them. But food can be even more powerful than a drug without the slew of possible side effects. Different foods create unique chemical reactions in the body that can facilitate healing. People have healed themselves from all sorts of ailments – from a case of the doldrums, to a little headache, to cancer, diabetes and so on.
6. Diets don’t work. And there’s no such thing as the perfect diet. If there was we’d all be eating it. Thing is, everybody is different. We all have different blood running through our veins, different metabolisms and different taste buds. And in this day and age with more and more food allergies and sensitivities, quite literally one persons panacea can be anothers poison. It’s up to each of us to find the diet (err, make that way of eating) that works for us right now. That means listening to your body (see #2), experimentation and enjoying the journey.
7. Food isn’t the only thing that feeds us. Sure it feeds us in the most literal sense, but what I’m talking about are those things that feed the soul. Our primary nourishment – relationships, careers, spirituality – feed us on a much deeper level than peas and carrots. You can eat all the broccoli in the world, but if you’re not feeding your soul what it needs too it doesn’t matter.
8. Exercise should feel good. The right exercise that is. And if it doesn’t feel good then why the heck are you doing it?! Or, maybe that’s why you’re not doing it? So stop. And find something that does make you feel good. Exercise is another one of those primary foods that feed us on a deeper level. It can make you happy, relieve stress and increase energy. And your exercise routine should change as you do to suit your age, preferences and lifestyle.
9. You, and only you, are in control of your health. Just because heart disease runs in the family or your father has high cholesterol does not mean you are doomed. The choices we make everyday have a greater impact. Nutrition (both primary and secondary) can turn genes on and off. This is cutting edge stuff right here. You see, food is powerful (#5) and you really are what you eat (#1) afterall.
10. Health is a means, not an end. It’s not just about being healthy. It’s about what being healthy allows you to do…
What do you want to do?
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps families find healthy routines that work, with no more “what’s for dinner?” stress, and a lot better food. Her family meal plans help moms take charge of their kitchen and their own health, leading to more vegetables and less junk all around. Megan also shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.