What is “Healthy”? | Healthy-net-Your Health Our Priority
What is “Healthy”?
Every day, we are bombarded with products claiming to be healthy, including everything from low-fat to no fat, heart healthy to slimming, protein-packed to low calorie, etc. Marketing campaigns feed off of consumers’ general lack of understanding about these terms. The consequences? Your health and wellness. It’s easy for a company to throw a label on its food saying it has 50% fewer calories or some such claim, but how do we know if fewer calories is really right for us? What exactly do our bodies need in order to be healthy? And why, no matter what we eat, do we have trouble changing how we look?
The place to start is, of course, with the body. As an evolved and living organism, the body is incomprehensibly smart and capable. We need to recognize this in ourselves and celebrate the amazing abilities held within the body.
It is also important to recognize that everyone’s body, while more or less the same, presents itself differently. We’re not clones, and there is no need to focus on comparisons or superficial things we want to change. Rather, we should be aware of what our body needs to be at its best – that’s it. If you can strip away everything else, including concerns over size and weight, you will be in a much more positive place and your body will thank you for it.
As for what is healthy: we need to listen to and learn from our bodies. Taking into account that we are beings of nature, it should come as no surprise that we should look to nature to find the ideal nutrition for our bodies. What occurs naturally in nature? Whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and, yes, meat, fish and raw dairy products. Also, foods free of chemicals like pesticides, antibiotics, GMOs and so on.
Along with this, different people’s bodies need different foods to function optimally; no two people have identical needs. We need to really listen to what our body craves and understand the need that is causing that craving (rather than simply indulging in chocolate ice cream when we want something sweet, for instance). Only when we look at a deeper level can we really nourish our bodies and find wellness.
Although this may sound a little extreme and difficult, with a little practice it will become a natural routine of intuitively understanding your body’s needs. Sustained over time, this can transform your body by helping it to function at a more optimal level. Now that’s healthy.
To get started, take small steps towards:
Reducing the refined and processed foods you eat
Adding more whole foods in your diet
Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones
Try having an apple, some carrot sticks or a handful of raw nuts as snacks during the day; by filling up on these whole foods, you will “crowd out” the unhealthier snacks you may have reached for
Substitute whole grain rice or quinoa for pasta when preparing meals; by choosing a whole grain rather than processed grains, you will both feel fuller and more easily digest the food
Make easy whole-food meals from scratch rather than buying pre-packaged or prepared foods (for instance, steam some fresh vegetables, cook some whole grain rice and bake up a couple of free-range organic chicken breasts); by doing so, you will save money and be in control of what you consume
The Grocery Store
When you’re at the grocery store, steer clear of the processed foods areas and stock on up healthy foods. Look for the following:
Organic vegetables, fruits, and other products – buy organic whenever possible
Local produce – it is fresher and exposed to fewer transportation pollutants
Free-range and organic poultry products – the poultry is treated much more humanely and is free from chemicals, which translates into purer eggs and meat
Organic dairy products – this ensures the milk and any other dairy products you consume are free of chemical influence
Free-range and non-corn-fed meat – livestock is frequently confined and fed an all-corn diet, which is neither natural nor healthy for them or you
Products with only whole ingredients – if you’re buying packaged food, this is very important to consider; for instance, organic tomato sauce that contains only vegetables, herbs and seasonings is better than a sauce with added preservatives and chemicals (or other ingredients you’re not familiar with or can’t pronounce)
Freshness – check the “sell by” or “packaged on” date for meats, milk, eggs and other products that share this information; by buying fresher food, it will both taste and be better
If this type of eating and grocery shopping sounds challenging, don’t be discouraged. Work on incorporating one of these positive changes into your diet, and once you’ve gotten comfortable with it move on to the next (Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all). By simply resolving to improve what you consume, you are taking the very important first step of mental awareness and determination, which is a huge part of wellness.
One Step at a Time
Also, improving your diet doesn’t have to be an extreme change that suddenly turns your whole kitchen upside down. By making improvements step by step over time, you are more likely to stick to the improvements as well as allow your body to easily transition to different and better foods. Be healthy, but also be practical.
Really remember that these changes don’t have to be extreme. While I try to eat whole foods as much as possible, I am still practical. For instance, when eating at a restaurant, I’ll usually gravitate toward a healthy option (as this is most appealing to me now) but I won’t deprive myself of a dish I’d like to try. When I’m making a meal, I’ll often include a sauce like marinara or spicy chili, which aren’t whole foods (although I do check the ingredients carefully). And I’ll admit, I often have dessert despite it being a more refined food product – usually, I’ll just have a smaller portion. The best part of healthy eating is that it’s really not difficult; in fact, it’s actually quite easy, especially once you get the hang of it.
Just be mindful and keep it simple, and you’ll be healthier in no time – it’s that easy. My recipes are all about simple ways to enjoy delicious food with a health-conscious focus. I hope you enjoy them. : )