Pay attention to what you eat |

Pay attention to what you eat

Monica Martin

It’s been brought to my attention lately by several well-educated friends that not everyone knows the basics about nutrition. I was a bit surprised to find this out as I’ve spent most of my adult life learning everything I can possibly learn about the subject. Thus, I very egotistically assumed that so had everyone else. Apparently, while I was spending all my time educating myself about what I put into my body, many of you were busy raising children, becoming interior designers, chefs and accountants, and following world politics. Obviously, we all have our own priorities and interests. I’m just so excited about mine that I think everybody else should be, too.

In a nutshell, nutrition is a science. Now hold on, before you stop reading and throw your arms up in despair, let me remind you that science is not a four-letter word. Science doesn’t have to be scary, and in the case of nutrition, science is actually quite helpful. The word science comes from the Latin “scientia,” meaning knowledge. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines science as “knowledge attained through study or practice.” When you think of it that way, it’s a darn good thing that nutrition falls under this category. Fortunately for us, our ancestors had already “practiced” eating a wide variety of foods. Since knowledge is the key to all things, I personally thank them for their efforts. If it wasn’t for them, we’d all be eating carcinogenic preservatives with chemical names we don’t recognize and toxic pesticides that seep into our water supply and kill our fish ” oh, wait, we do that anyway.

What you put into your body to nourish yourself and stay alive is of utmost importance. We tend to lose sight of this as we’re feeding our faces with soft drinks, Big Macs and movie-theater popcorn. Our obsession with fast and easy food has led us away from actually making a connection between eating and living. Most of us don’t even recognize that we only exist as long as we eat, drink water and breathe ” let alone understand that the things we put in our mouth actually work at a cellular level to make everything we are made of keep working. Our bodies need a lot of different nutrients (read vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber, etc.) for them to function at all. With the proper nutrients, they can function at an optimal level.

What does this mean for you? Quite simply, if you want to have more energy, feel happier, look better and live longer, you really do need to pay attention to what you’re shoving in your mouth. It’s important to recognize that food serves a purpose beyond just satisfying hunger. Food nourishes your body and soul and should not be taken for granted. Understanding what proper nutrition is can be a daunting task. I suggest keeping it simple and trying to learn a few basic concepts at a time. Once you internalize a few key things by practicing them on a daily basis, you can then branch out and learn a few more. Don’t get bogged down in all the details to begin with or you’ll just grow frustrated and give up trying to learn.

Here are some basics to get you off and running, literally. First, develop an awareness that everything you put in your mouth is going to influence the way you feel, think and act. This will happen both in the moment and in the long run as well. Take the time to consider this concept whenever it’s time to eat. A surplus of any one food will ultimately lead to an imbalance of nutrients in your system. Thus, variety really is the spice of life. Also, our bodies like clean foods. By that I mean those that are not laden with chemicals and ingredients that you don’t recognize. It takes less energy to process foods nearest their natural states than it does to process chemicals that are foreign to our bodies’ natural chemistry. Ultimately this means a surplus of energy for you to enjoy.

Second, remember to imbibe heavily from the Fountain of Youth. Water, not beer or soda pop, is what spouts forth from this legendary spring. Sure, it can get boring at times. That only means that it is up to you to find ways in which to enjoy it. Get creative. I know you’ve got it in you. If you’re having trouble with this one, I’ll offer you another way to approach it. When you have the choice, always try to avoid high fructose corn syrup. This will essentially eliminate many common beverages from your diet such as soda, canned teas, energy drinks, etc. If you’re not filling your body up with these liquids, you’ll get thirsty. When you’re thirsty, it’s much easier to drink water.

Third, do what you can. Take these two concepts and work on them for a while. Habits are hard to break, and they take time to learn as well. Don’t be hard on yourself. We’re all faced with many choices every day. Just try to make the choice that is going to provide you with the most happiness and the least amount of stress. Stress will kill you. Happiness will bring a long and rewarding life. For those of you looking for something more concrete, a good rule of thumb is the 90/10 rule. Aim to eat nine out of 10 meals focusing on the above ideas. Remember, we’re only human and, as humans, we never seem to get it perfectly right.

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