Answer: in every possible way.
I’ve always been fascinated by nutrition, especially in more recent years. It amazes me how big a difference our daily choices make on our overall well-being, whether immediate or fifty years into the future. When you look at how the human body works on a molecular and cellular scale, it’s really no wonder our diet directs our lives so completely, but I won’t get all science-geeky on you. Basically, nutrition matters. A lot.
There are a hell of a lot of medications in today’s world for the plethora of problems that are springing up in greater numbers year after year. As incredible as those scientific achievements are, and as necessary as they can be for some individuals, the truth stands that most people probably wouldn’t need half the pills they take every morning if they altered their lifestyle. Doctors are quick to put patients on anti-depressants and acne medication and metabolic stimulators and steroids and all their other miracle pills, and their patients see results. Yes, the drugs work. But why do you “need” them in the first place?
Take me, for example. Over the summer I spent a lot of time outdoors, taking walks and hiking, snacked on fresh fruit, and prepared for myself balanced meals in the comfort of my home. Cue the start of junior year: suddenly my nose is pouring, I have a splitting headache, my stomach is on-and-off nauseous, I’m breaking out left and right, and I just can’t stay awake. Is this a sudden bout of sickness brought on by the germ-infested school? Should I take a tylenol and bring a pocket-pack of tissues in my backpack? Or is there a simpler answer?
In fact, there is. Due to my hectic school schedule (and the fat-saturated cafeteria food), on most days I would bring myself a little bag of cheerios, maybe a muffin, and some water. I’d wolf down a sorry Eggo waffle for breakfast if I even had the time, munch on a small handful of carbs throughout the day, return home to a sweet snack and maybe eat a little bit of chicken for dinner. What’s wrong with this picture? On the fourth day of my sickness, the second week of school, I realized. The next morning, I got up a little earlier, poured myself a small glass of orange juice (note: you’re only meant to drink about 3 oz of juice at a time. Please, for the love of god, don’t pour yourself a 12 oz glass of juice in the morning. You wouldn’t eat twenty oranges at once, so don’t drink that much juice. Your body can’t process it, which is why it turns to fat.), made a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal, and sat down to eat it. Though my in-school diet wasn’t much better, I made up for it with a super-food snack of apples and peanut butter when I got home, and made sure I had a balanced dinner. The next day, after a good night’s sleep, my ailments nearly disappeared, and after another day of mindful eating I was back on track.
Why is nutrition so important? Why can’t we just take diet supplements and eat as much junk as we want? If we exercise, can’t we cheat a little bit in the food department? Well, I won’t get too in-depth about the biology behind it, but your body is meant to intake whole, unprocessed food directly from nature. That’s why fast foods, desserts, and diet pills hit your body with a wave of energy and then quickly diminish, leaving only fat behind: your body is not meant to intake that many nutrients that quickly. Whole wheats are complex carbohydrates, enormous polysaccharide chains, and your body will break down those slowly, giving you energy over a long period of time and leaving little left over to be stored as fat. The same concept is true for meat on the bone, fresh fruit in its natural form (such as whole oranges), and raw vegetables. When at all possible, eat food as it is found in nature, because whole food, real food, is the only type of food your body is designed to make the most of.
Nutrition greatly impacts all portions of your life, so it is absolutely vital to be mindful of what you put in your mouth. You’ll find that it isn’t nearly as hard as you would think to start eating a healthier diet; most typical meals can be made more nutritious with a quick fix. Like with exercise and most other things in life, small steps amount to big results, and every bit matters. I’ll probably start posting meal ideas and some delicious, healthy recipes on the blog soon, seeing as this is something I’m so passionate about. Until then, I hope you find the courage to break out of the Kraft mac-and-cheese and pop-tart cycle and fuel your body the right way!
(Not to say that Kraft mac-and-cheese isn’t delicious. Because it is. Especially when shaped like Perry the Platypus.)