There are plenty of reasons to start eating a healthier diet. One attractive reason is simply to feel better! Drinking plenty of clean water and adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet is a good way to start. Getting back to eating a healthy diet is really important if you want to maintain a normal weight and feel your best. There are things we can all do to improve our diets, and while nobody is perfect all the time, we can at least strive to eat better as a general rule.
I have to admit that there is no way that I am going to give up cake in my life, but I rarely eat it and I do not have dessert as a general rule. I grew up in a home where dessert was only for special occasions. This seems like a practical rule of thumb and it came right out of my mother’s book of practicality. OK, she didn’t have a book, but she believed, as her mother did, that desserts were for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Think about it for a minute. Adopting a rule like that is a way to slow down on the sweets, without giving them up forever, right? When I married my husband, he thought he had to have something sweet after every meal to signal that the meal was over. ?? what ?? Anyway, one day he said there was nothing he could do to get rid of his “love handles.” I told him to think about all the extra calories he’d give up per year if he just eating those packaged cookies after every meal. He gave it up! It was a good move and anyone can do something just as simple as a first step toward healthier eating.
People have really suffered, in many ways, since the advent of fast food, drive thru coffee and donut shops and the convenience of it all. It has contributed to the rise in obesity, diabetes and everything that goes hand in hand with these conditions. I have seen severe diabetics, in the hospital, have family members deliver coffee drinks loaded with sugar and fat (cream) to them that they bought at coffee shops located right inside the hospital! If this isn’t some kind of a money-making racket, that goes against the hospital mission, I don’t know what is! The patients are often on tightly monitored insulin regimens, as part of their treatment, healing and regulation of their diabetes. Then, in comes the coffee and donuts from well meaning loved ones and, oops, everything that has been done for the patient is quickly undone. Diabetes is a serious and deadly disease that many people don’t seem to take seriously. Maybe because it is so common today?
There are so many good reasons to eat a healthy diet and here are just a few:
- Avoid obesity and all of the other conditions that can go hand in hand with it. An article in the Clinical Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism warns that being overweight predisposes us to diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, heart disease and some forms of cancer. 1
- Feeling our best each day. Consider that the foods we eat each day affect us more than we realize. That is according to an article in the Harvard Business Review that gives an analogy comparing fuel for our bodies (food) to the fuel we put in our cars (gasoline). “With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different. Imagine a world where filling up at Mobil meant avoiding all traffic and using BP meant driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas? Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon. “2 More fruits and vegetables in our diet will give us the best performance and keep us feeling more energized and alert as well as helping our bodies to function better. We all know that eating more salads helps us with elimination that in turn makes our insides feel better. Think of a fatty meal that gives you heartburn and indigestion after about an hour. That derailment during an important business meeting after lunch may not seem so out there after all.
- Looking our best. By eating better quality food and drinking plenty of water our outward appearance will benefit. You may have noticed that being overweight causes some people to look much older. According to Lawrence Gibson, M.D., research on the best foods for healthy skin is limited. Still, antioxidant rich foods seem to have a protective effect for the skin. Some skin friendly foods are: carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, , green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, salmon, mackerel and other Omega 3 rich foods. On the other hand, there are foods that seem associated with skin damage such as highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. 3
Buying and preparing meals with fresh ingredients, at least part of the week, is a good start toward eating better. Drinking plenty of clean water, plain tea or coffee without sugar and cream is one way to avoid putting many extra calories into your body. Coffee with a little milk is a better choice than all of the high calorie drinks served up at the coffee shops on every street corner. Avoiding soda and other sugary drinks will have the same effect, including less damage to your teeth and all the misery and expense that entails. I think that, with the way health care is in this country presently, we had all better get “a lot better” at taking care of ourselves in order to avoid getting sick! It is far too expensive! Wouldn’t you agree?
Sherry Dumais, MBA, BSN, RN
1 George A. Bray. Medical Consequences of Obesity. 01 June 2004 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. (2004) 89 (6): 2583-2589.
2 Ron Friedman. 2014. https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-you-eat-affects-your-productivity
3 Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., 2014. What Are The Best Foods For Healthy Skin? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/healthy-skin/faq-20058184