While reflecting on my personal health journey, I find there is some vital information I should share with those looking to become fit and/or healthy. The topic of today’s post is food, good old FOOD. We need its nutrients to survive, it serves as energy for daily function, but it also leads to weight gain and chronic health issues. The very same substances that are supposed to nourish our bodies also lead to various health problems and eating disorders, among the few. This is because people simply don’t know how and what to eat now a day. And don’t even get me started about the food industry’s awful marketing tactics that trick consumers into buying unhealthy, processed products (that discussion will come in a future post). What I am trying to get at here is that the majority of our population lacks basic healthy food knowledge and people often dismiss the most important component of healthy living: balance.
Balance is they key to several aspects of our daily lives. You can’t go through life eating chocolate cake every other night without also having some veggies on your dinner plate (Well, you can, but the consequences won’t be pretty). I cannot recall the day when food became such an important part of my daily routine. Before embarking on my journey, food was just food to me. I didn’t necessarily care WHAT or when I ate, as long as I ate. Now, without failure, you will find me in the kitchen every Sunday night (lightly) meal prepping for the busy week to come. This makes balanced eating so much easier because I’m not tempted to go out and eat junk. I have my hearty meals ready for me as soon as I get home and can afford to eat a treat now and then. I make eating a priority and actually enjoy fueling my body with wholesome foods.
I often come across people who don’t know what to eat, to which they often fall victim to fad diets. Low carb? Eff that. We NEED carbs. They’re our main source of ENERGY. Juice cleanse? You’ll likely end up feeling fatigued and hungry! The point is, restricting your body and depriving it of essential nutrients and macro-nutrients will only result in a downward spiral. It is for this reason that whenever I talk to people about how to begin eating healthy, I always recommend the 80/20 approach. There is no need to go on a crazy diet and completely neglect the occasional cookie or that Whataburger craving. As long as you make the conscious effort to eat healthy a majority (80%) of the time, you can afford to indulge in a couple of treats now and then (20%).
Though I’m not sure who originally popularized this “diet”, I think it is a great way to describe the way that I currently approach my eating habits. This lifestyle is especially effective for those looking to get fit because results will not come without a clean, healthy diet. From experience, I can wholeheartedly confirm that nutrition is the key to fitness and progress.
However, implementing this diet is easier said than done. When I started modifying my food habits, I genuinely thought that I was eating healthy. Little did I know that Nature Valley bars, salads with loads of dressing, and flavored yogurt, among the few, all contain added sugar and unnecessary ingredients! Thankfully, I took the initiative to do my own research and learned the right foods to eat. Stick to whole foods, y’all!
I’ve come to the conclusion that there needs to be greater food education and less emphasis on eating less or hardcore working out. If you’re like me and genuinely enjoy working out often, go for it. However, if you simply want to feel good from within, you might want to start learning to love your veggies and WHOLE FOODS a bit more! The process may be tough at the beginning, but I can assure you that the results will be rewarding.
Disclaimer: I realize I’m not a registered dietitian or health professional, so I suggest you do your own research in order to confirm this information. In the meantime, here are some helpful links to get you started: huffingtonpost.com/…/how-the-8020-rule-can-imp_b_6432662, hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource, eatright.org