Food: Our Body's Fuel Source
July 28, 2017 - Imagine you just purchased a brand new, fancy car. You’d fill it with premium gas right? Most of us would agree that filling your beloved new car with the cheapest gas would be unwise due to the risk of engine damage.
The same concept holds true when we fuel our bodies. Eating processed and packaged foods that are loaded with preservatives, sugar, and sodium, is equivalent to filling your tank with cheap and corrosive fuel. If we devote this much consideration to our new car, we should undoubtedly show our body the same courtesy, right? We all know that eating unhealthy can lead to obesity, but even if you’re not overweight, you may still be eating foods that increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and cognitive/mental health issues (CDC, 2017). Take advantage of this summer by making positive changes to your body’s fuel source… You won’t regret it!
What Does a Healthy Diet Look Like?
A healthy diet is rich in:
Vegetables (Arugula, Bok Choy, Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Celery, Collard Greens, Spinach, etc…)
Fruits (Apple, Blueberries, Açaí Berries, Banana, Cranberries, Kiwi, Pomegranate, Avocado, Papaya, Raspberries, etc…)
Whole grain (Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, Oats, Buckwheat, Rye, etc…)
Low fat dairy (Cottage cheese, Kefir, Plain Yogurt, Unprocessed Cheeses, etc…)
Seafood (Freshwater Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Scallops, Sea Bass, etc…)
Legumes (Beans, Lentils, Peanuts, Peas, etc…)
Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Pistachios, Cashews, etc…)
And it is lower in:
Red and processed meat (Beef, Lamb, Pork, Veal, Goat, etc…)
Sugar-sweetened foods and drinks (Soda/Energy Drinks, Muffins, Salad Dressings, Ice Cream, Alcoholic Drinks, and many others that you wouldn’t expect like Granola Bars, Fruit Yogurt, Tomato Sauce, etc… ALWAYS check the label. The World Health Organization recommends that less than 10 percent of daily caloric intake should be from sugar. That means for an adult with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), sugar intake should be less than 25 grams per day (Jaslow, 2014)).
Refined grains (White Bread, White Rice, White Pasta, Certain Breakfast Cereals, etc…)
Swap the Bad for the Good
Most of us already know what foods are and are not good for us, but we still come up with excuses not to make changes to our diet. If any of these thoughts have ever crossed your mind, “Healthier food is blander food,” “I don’t have the time to eat healthy with my busy schedule,” or “Fresh and healthier foods are too expensive,” you’re not alone! However, you’d be amazed by how simple some of these dietary modifications can be without having to compromise on flavor, prep time, or shopping expenses. When you make these dietary changes you will notice changes in your energy level, GI functioning, and overall well-being. Here are a few helpful tips to get started:
- Check the nutrition label before you buy. Remember, if it’s packed with sugar or sodium, it’s probably not a good idea to eat.
- Substitute sugary sodas and juices for seltzer water, unsweetened green tea, or good ol’ fashioned water.
- Substitute white pasta and breads for healthier substitutes (eg. sprouted whole grain, brown rice, or lentil based).
- Eat healthy snacks throughout the day (healthy snack ideas here), and don’t skip meals!
- When grocery shopping choose fresh, natural produce and meat over frozen, canned or processed items.
- Plan your grocery list ahead of time. This website provides great tips about how to eat healthier on a budget.
- Choose certain days of the week when you prepare and eat vegetarian meals.
If you’re motivated to start making positive changes to your diet, and need some new recipes to start experimenting with, here is a good place to start:
http://www.eatwell101.com/low-effort-healthy-dinners-recipes - These easy and healthy recipes will make eating healthy simple and delicious.
https://www.acouplecooks.com/categories/ - You don’t need to be a professional chef to make amazing meals! This blog has a ton of easy and delicious healthy recipes.
http://ohsheglows.com/categories/recipes-2/ -This blog will help you incorporate more plant-based foods in your diet. You’ll find many Gluten-Free, Allergy-friendly, Vegetarian, and Vegan options.
Natalia Wannon, M.A. - Denver C-SEAP Office
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