By Sonya D. Lavett
Now that spring is just around the corner, the weather is warming up and things in the North are beginning to thaw (or will be soon). Hopefully you are finding time to get up and move around in between class assignments and everything else that fills up your calendar. A big part of being healthy and treating your mind and body right lies in your food choices. What is the quality of your food like?
It has been said that we are what we eat.
It has been said more recently that we are what our food eats.
The food industry makes billions of dollars every year. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of books written about nutrition. For the average consumer, these “experts” sometimes disagree over the right path to take to enjoy optimal health.
Don’t eat carbs. Eat some carbs. Eat carbs only at certain times of the day.
It can be frustrating to listen to the experts to try to determine what is best for you.
But who really knows what is best for you? Maybe your body needs more protein or more vitamin B than other people. Maybe you have certain allergies, which means that you don’t process certain foods well. A “one size fits all” diet that includes that food, even if it is a “healthy” food,” will not work for you.
Reading up on nutrition and specific behaviors you can adopt to ensure your health is just plain smart; however, you also have to listen to what your body is telling you. A diet that works for one person may not necessarily work for you. So, while you are reading up on food and ways to improve your health, keep you own unique body in mind. If you have a good doctor who listens to you and cares about what you eat, consult with them the next time you have an appointment. Let them know what you are thinking and what food choices you have been making. See if it lines up with what they know.
Even better, see if your choices line up with what they know about your specific nutritional needs.
Your best bet in maintaining healthy choices is to prepare ahead of time. Sunday is my “shopping and chopping” day. It is the day I buy most of my food and for at least part of the afternoon, I am chopping up my vegetables and preparing at least three meals for my family for the busy week ahead. By always keeping something nutritious in my fridge, I no longer panic when I walk in the door from a long day at the office. My 15-year-old and my 11-year-old are always hungry. When I get home from work, they typically greet me at the door with “I’m hungry.”
Now that I’ve been spending my Sundays shopping and chopping foods that fit our needs, I can come home and go straight to the gym or spend that time I would have been preparing a meal with my children to actually sit down together at the kitchen table and relax. I have learned more about how they spend their day and what is going on with them by simply sitting down to eat with them.
My 11-year-old is going through a picky phase; she will still sit at the table with us, but she may choose to eat something different or sometimes she’ll just sit and take part in the conversation. She does not always like what we are eating, but she is at least curious and will try what I cook. Sometimes on Sunday, she will even help me prepare food.
Two things are happening with my shopping and chopping plan:
1) I’m spending more quality time with my children throughout the busy week.
2) I have better control over what we are all eating because it is all planned out.
This helps me with my shopping. It helps me eat more wisely. It helps with my stress level. That in and of itself is gold.
If there is always something ready to eat in my fridge, I don’t have to stress too much over cooking something from scratch because there is always something there. Isn’t it when we start getting hungry and think we don’t have anything to eat that we start making really bad choices for ourselves?
I don’t have to worry about feeling guilty about my gym time or taking my dog for a walk because my children at least know how to work the microwave if I’m not home. Instead of Hot Pockets, they are heating up salmon and asparagus or a bowl of healthy, protein-filled chili. My daughter has learned to fix eggs about three or four different ways all on her own. The Crockpot has also become a kitchen staple at our house. There is not much you cannot cook in it and it will make cooking a lot less of a hassle.
At night while the kiddos are packing their lunches for the next day, I am also prepping my food and making sure I have plenty of healthy snacks to take to work and keep my brain and my body fed.
The food industry is counting on you to be stressed, hurried and short on time. That’s why they are able to take as many shortcuts as they do and pack all of the processed food with plenty of dangerous chemicals. As consumers, we have more power than we sometimes believe. When we stop making poor food decisions and buying food full of chemicals and other garbage, the food industry will definitely take notice. They will stop producing it when we take a little control and responsibility over what we choose to purchase. By making a commitment to choose healthy food and doing all of the prep work ahead of time, you will save yourself a lot of stress. Your family will always have something healthy and ready to be eaten.
To your healthy eating habits!