Food is such a simple word for something that means so much. One’s healthy eating choices will directly affect their health, mood, behavior, and life’s longevity. The prevalent numbers of obesity, heart disease, and cancer means that it is imperative that we concern ourselves with what we eat. Healthy eating provides the body with the proper required nutrients for healthy daily function. Furthermore, healthy eating doesn’t contaminate that body with things that would be beneficial for the development of chronic diseases. Unlike fad diets, eating healthy is not a quick fix; it’s a life time commitment that will pay you back tenfold. During one’s journey of trying to break old unhealthy eating habits, we need to ask ourselves why it’s so hard to eat healthy. What are the benefits that come from eating healthy, and does eating healthy help with self-perception?
It’s hard to make healthy food choices for a few reasons. First, it’s a lot cheaper and more convenient to eat processed food. It’s hard to ask a mother or father to choose between an eight-dollar salad per child, when you can buy food from a fast food restaurant for half the price. Second, big food companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Nestle try and target kids at a young age in the efforts to get them addicted to their products. You turn on a TV, listen to a radio, or open a cell phone, and you are bombarded with ad after ad of companies telling you that you are too fat, too skinny, too ugly, or that you don’t have enough of something (usually food). Kids also get targeted by their Hollywood role models. They want to be just like them. Unfortunately, big food companies tell them to promote unhealthy foods such as burgers, fattening dairy products, and soda. Most of the time these “role models” don’t even eat the food they are promoting. Third, even seemingly healthy food choices, like lean meats, are full of antibiotics and hormones that directly affect the body’s ability to fight chronic disease and can lead to faster weight gain, rapid growth and development in prepubertal adolescence, and increased cancer risks.
According to a report by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, in 2012 the fast food industry spent $4.6 billion to advertise mostly unhealthy products, and children and teens remained key audiences for that advertising (YaleNews). One has little chance of living a healthy life when all this is stacked against them at such a young age. Currently, there are not many policies in place for the restriction of advertisements to kids. We can try and combat this by limiting television time, educating ourselves on the regulations on advertising to children, and as parents, we need to do our part to take kids out of an obesogenic environment.
If one blazes their own path of proper diet and nutrition, the benefits that your body will receive is nothing short of miraculous. A diet that mainly consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and oils, and regular exercise is better for the body than any kind of pharmaceutical drug you could ever get. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of immune supporting vitamins such as vitamin A, C, B2, and as well as a great sore of essential electrolytes. Eating fruits and vegetables will help regulate blood pressure, help with heart disease, and prevent the development of type two diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories which helps you lose and keep off unwanted fat that will cause chronic diseases. Whole grains are good carbohydrates that help supply our bodies with cellular energy. That energy will help with cognitive function, proper digestion, and make you feel fuller longer. That will help you not over eat. It’s important to remember to try and find whole grains that haven’t been processed to the point that they strip away the original kernel. Keeping the grains as pure as possible will help get all the nutritional benefits out of them. Good fats and oils come in many forms like nuts, fish, and grains. These good fats and oils will help maintain the healthy type of cholesterol your body needs, reduce the risk of strokes, and help with heart disease. If one can stick to the healthy diet, their health will improve. Unfortunately, if one does not exercise along with a healthy diet, they can’t reach optimal fitness. In general, people that are more physically fit are heathier. But why is that? When one starts to try and become more physically fit they need to give up some bad lifestyle choices. These lifestyle choices can include giving up junk food, alcoholic beverages, not smoking or chewing tobacco, and most importantly they need to get off the couch and start working out. Working out does not mean just going into a gym every single day. Working out can include taking short walks, hiking with your spouse, playing a sport, or even yoga. All these activities will help over all cardiovascular capacity, muscular capacity, flexibility and self-perception. Physical fitness is an ever-changing process. As life goes on one will need to change how they maintain their own physical picture of fitness, but as long as they strive to a life of well-being, overall health will constantly improve.
Eating healthy and losing weight does a lot more than giving you a smaller waistline. Yes, it can improve overall health and reduce the risk of many chronic conditions, conversely it can have some effects that are a bit less noticeable, but still very important. Eating healthy helps with self-perception. Unfortunately, one’s self-perception can be very negative. If one sees themselves as overweight, they become very insecure. For example, they might think they don’t deserve to be in a relationship, or don’t feel confident in social interaction, or they might not go for that new promotion at work. Some individuals might not even go to the gym due to the fear of what people will think of them. Because it takes hard work and time to see weight loss, most people give up entirely. Success in weight loss takes months and even years. It’s not a quick fix and is a long-term commitment. When one makes the choice to turn their life around it will be the best decision they will ever make. Exercising 3-4 times a week will play an important role in positively increasing one’s self perception. Exercising releases mood bosting hormones that make you feel good. As time goes on and one adapts to a healthy lifestyle, routines like meal and exercise planning gives the sense of personal achievement that reinforces positive self-perception. Self-confidence will sky rocket as you see the weight fall off.
As time goes on it seems like more and more people are becoming obese. Now, more than ever, it’s important to set good examples and try to live a lifestyle that can make one’s health a priority and not a second thought. With the increasing availability of unhealthy foods for adults and children, it’s no wonder why so many Americans are overweight or obese. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly isn’t something we, as a society, should take lightly. In fact, it should be viewed as an obligation. We should feel obligated to leave a legacy behind for our family, and pass down healthy habits for generations to come. There are many reasons to eat healthy and start exercising. Regardless of one’s reasoning it’s important to remember that it’s a lifetime commitment. But earing healthy is worth it and the commitment you put in, will pay you back in healthier happier years.