6 minutes reading time (1242 words)

You Are What You Eat

It's something we heard all the time when we were kids. "You are what you eat". We also heard a lot of "eat more meat" and "eat more grains". There wasn't much of a mixed message when I was a kid. It was pretty simple. Follow the Canada food guide and you will be healthy.

Of course, this wasn't true but I had no way of knowing that as a kid. Back then no one talked about the fact that grain cost a lot less to produce than fruits and veggies or that the dairy industry had paid (or so the reports would later say) to be part of the food guide because you can actually get enough calcium without eating dairy. No one was running around back then telling us how hard it is for your body to digest meats or that the impact of that meat production was eating away at the environment. Food has become a very complicated thing nowadays.

We are always hearing about a new diet plan that helps you lose weight or live longer. People talk about superfoods like they can cure any disease known to man. Non-GMO and Fat-Free have become BUZZ words. People determine your status based on if you eat organic or not. It's a little overwhelming.

When did food become about the newest fad and stop being about nourishing our bodies?

As most of you who read this blog know, a few years ago I started to change my eating habits because I had gone to the doctor and found out my body was no longer processing things like sugar the same way it used to. I still had normal levels of blood sugar and cholesterol but the numbers indicated that I was at the high end of normal. 

As most of you who read this blog know, a few years ago I started to change my eating habits because I had gone to the doctor and found out my body was no longer processing things like sugar the same way it used to. I still had normal levels of blood sugar and cholesterol but the numbers indicated that I was at the high end of normal.

This was enough of a wake-up call for me to start to think about what I was actually putting into my body. I've been overweight my whole life because and was always told this was because I had PCOS, I was also told that losing weight would be hard for the same reason. So I never focused on the weight, my health was always good in the sense of blood sugar, cholesterol, and all other levels always normal. For me, that was what health meant.

So I did a bunch of research and read a number of reputable studies, from reputable institutions about what the human body needs to function and what things we consume that add no actual value to our health. I researched how what we eat can affect our overall health and our happiness. Researchers have been linking foods and lack of foods to happiness for years because of diet trends. So there is a lot of research that shows how cutting out foods can both negatively and positively impact your health and also happiness. 

 It's funny but if you had asked me back then if I believed sugar and white flour was why my body was no longer functioning as it should, I wouldn't have believed you. However, now almost 3 years later, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it makes a huge difference. Don't get me wrong I still eat sugar (now in moderation) and I love to eat white pasta (when out at a restaurant with friends or family) but I now try to live by the 80/20 rule. This means 80% of the time I try to eat a plant-based diet only and 20% of the time I eat the things I love that I can't give up (even though I have tried) like chicken wings and creamy garlic pasta. There is a lot of research to back up this way of eating as most diet studies show if you try to cut out foods you love, eventually you will give up on whatever diet plan you are on and go back to your old way of eating, in part because you miss the foods you no longer eat. So what you eat, or don't eat as the case may be, has a direct bearing on your physical and mental health equally. You may not have the same level of overall happiness if you stop eating pizza forever but if you only eat it once a week and not every day, you can be happy and healthy. More and more studies are showing that health and happiness can both be achieved if we enjoy the foods we love in moderation but focus more on eating in a way to fuel our bodies with nutrients.

I recently went to Florida on a very extreme budget because of my current financial state and so it was hard to eat a mostly plant-based diet when one banana had a price tag of $2.50 usd. So I ate what I could afford and didn't worry that much about it. When I came home though, I noticed it took me longer to start to feel normal again. It took me a couple of extra days of recovering before I was back to my normal self. This, of course, could be part of the normal process of aging because I am now in my late 30's but honestly, after a few days of eating a clean, healthy, plant-based food diet I noticed a difference in my energy level. In my ability to sleep through most of the night (never in my whole life have I ever actually slept through a solid night of 6-8 hours without waking up) and of course I noticed that my level of hunger throughout the day changed as well. 

 So as un-informative as it may have been back then, the slogan "You are what you eat" may have had some validity to it. However, I think the slogan should be "Eat the things that fuel your body and make you feel good but don't forget it is okay to indulge sometimes".

Your overall health isn't just about how your body functions, it's also about your mental health and research is showing that a lack of nutrients can lead to less cognitive ability and overall feelings of sluggishness. 

Everyone is different and maybe a plant-based diet isn't for you but before you decide, I suggest trying small changes to see how easy they are for you to adapt to your life. If you don't like fruits and veggies, maybe try grabbing a fresh pressed juice once a day. Research shows that even making a small change like this can add to your overall health. Try eating one less pre-boxed meal a day or even making your own lunch so you don't grab fast food every day.  

Small changes for your mental and physical health at any age, can have a huge impact on your life. So if you're not feeling as energetic as you want to be, think about making a few small changes to your diet, in ways that are manageable, to be able to nourish your body and you will see changes. You could find that it makes you happier and healthier. 

Sleep Cheap 2018
It is okay to do nothing
 

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Saturday, 17 August 2019
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