What do you fill your car with to make it run? Gasoline! Gasoline is the fuel that makes a car turn on and drive. A car also needs oil, brake fluid, steering fluid, etc. Would you ever put a Coke in your car’s gas tank? What about refilling the oil with ketchup? No! No one would ever do that because we know a car won’t run on pop or ketchup…So why do people eat junk food and expect that their body will function properly??
The human body can mechanically be compared to a car – our heart is a motor, our brain is the computer, we have many organs that control the function of different parts of our body. All those organs inside of you need certain nutrients to properly function; nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and legumes, nuts and seeds, etc. By eating unhealthy foods, you’re actually laying obstacles down for all of those organs, preventing them from properly functioning.
Food has become something that we indulge in because of social situations or because we’ve been programmed to think popcorn goes with a movie, pop goes with a burger, or candy goes with Halloween and chocolate with Easter.
Know your nutrients
Most people aren’t aware of the specific jobs each nutrient does in their body. For instance, protein isn’t just for muscle, some types of protein are responsible for hormones, skin, hair and nails, immune system strength, energy, and so many other things in the body.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t treat ourselves once in a while – moderation is key, in my opinion, to sustaining healthy food choices (heck, I had a bowl of chocolate ice cream last night!). But we do need to always keep in mind what nutrients our body needs for simple functioning. In explanation, I ate a bowl of ice cream after a day of the following eating pattern;
Breakfast – Kale, eggs, sweet potato, tea
Snack – Banana, peanut butter, water
Lunch – Spinach, chickpeas, chicken, strawberries, pumpkin seeds, water
Snack – Green beans, apple, lentil crackers, tuna, water
Supper – Salmon, spaghetti squash, feta cheese, pesto, water
Snack – Banana oat muffin, tea
Movie night with hubby – Chocolate ice cream
I knew when I ate and enjoyed that delicious ice cream, that I had fueled my body all day long with the nutrients it needed – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, vitamins, minerals and water! If I had eaten malnourished or nutrient-lacking meals and snacks all day then I wouldn’t have eaten the ice cream. I would have recognized that my body was likely lacking essential nutrients and eaten some veggies and protein before bed instead.
I challenge you to write down what you would eat on a normal day and ask yourself whether that food is supplying your body with a multitude of nutrients from healthy sources, or whether it’s ‘empty calories’ with no nutrient content that you filled up on. Try it for a week!
See if the food choices you make improve over the seven days when you are physically writing what you have eaten each day and intentionally understanding what your body is likely lacking. Try it for two weeks! By the end of weeks two or three, after journaling your food choices and making more intentional decisions about food, you’ll likely find a big difference in how you feel!
The left picture is a lunch that I would pack for an eight-hour work day after a hearty breakfast. Morning snacks include; an apple, and a banana-oat-chocolate-chip muffin. Main lunch salad; spinach, chickpeas, ground chicken, feta cheese, blueberries, seed mix. Afternoon snacks include; banana, cheesy-jalapeno cornbread, low sugar granola bar, assorted veggies. I also aim to drink 2-3 liters of water during my work day.
Maybe you’ve thought about a food journal or had it recommended…but have you actually done it? I can guarantee you will learn something – so go for it! Start today! Don’t judge yourself for what you may have already eaten. This is a learning exercise for your eyes only – take note of what you eat and how it makes your body feel each day.
Jessica has worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. She discovered a unique passion for older adult clients and went on to complete a graduate diploma in Retirement Communities Management. Jessica recently completed a degree in gerontology to fuel her passion of understanding the aging process and teach people about a life of wellness.