Let’s Eat!: How Our Diet Affects Our Health
Food tends to make us feel certain ways. Food might make you feel happy or delighted. It can make you feel energetic or refreshed. It can even make you feel sluggish or down.
Many of us don’t take the time to really consider what we’re eating on a daily basis—and a lot of that might not be due to carelessness. Living our lives in the fast lane means that mealtimes often become just another task to fit into our busy schedules, and we may not think too long or hard about what exactly we’re eating.
But giving more thought and intention to our diets can actually have a profound effect on our physical and mental well-being.
There’s a lot of power in the choices you make for food. Here’s how healthy choices can help you on your wellness journey:
Reduce risk for disease
Following a heart-healthy diet significantly reduces our risk for diseases like hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lots of information on what constitutes a generally healthy diet, but it’s best to keep these things in mind:
Focus on fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruit can satisfy sweets cravings without added or imitation sugars while vegetables are able to be cooked up in all sorts of ways to keep them interesting and delicious.
Avoid highly processed foods
The best way to approach foods is to go raw or minimally processed. Try your hand at making homemade chicken noodle soup instead of heating up a can or experiment with oatmeal instead of eating sugary, boxed cereals.
Everything in moderation
Following a “healthy” diet doesn’t mean deprivation. You can still enjoy “unhealthy” foods occasionally, but when you begin to widen your palate to include foods you otherwise may not have eaten, you could uncover a new favorite!
Gives us energy
Have you heard the phrase “food is fuel”? The food we put into our bodies can both positively and negatively affect our energy levels. The better your fuel, the better your performance.
Not all foods are created equal. Foods rich in healthy fats (like avocados), protein (like beans or nuts), and vitamins (like oranges and other fruits and vegetables)—for example—help give you what you need to stay energized all day long.
Provides satiation and joy
Let’s face it. Eating is fun. Eating makes us happy. Eating shouldn’t be a chore, and it absolutely shouldn’t be unpleasant. There’s a reason why there’s so many blogs and TikTok videos out there explaining how the foods we eat can be both healthy and delicious.
Don’t kill yourself over the perfect diet. It’s 100% okay to indulge every once in a while. We all want to be healthy, sure. But it’s not worth stressing about.
Bringing it all together
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that there’s no such thing as a perfect diet, and one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Not every diet plan works for every person, and that’s okay. We should focus our efforts on being mindful of what we eat—and how often. Taking the time to register that you’re eating—like setting aside mealtimes rather than eating on-the-go—and what you’re eating—like meal-planning—can make all the difference in your overall health.
Making big changes in our lives to benefit our health can be challenging without a plan. Stay tuned to learn all about building and sustaining healthy behaviors and habits!