Eating healthy is key to good health and, I believe, happiness. But I’m a firm believer that no food should be permanently banished from our diets. The occasional splurge in an otherwise well-chosen diet isn’t the deal-breaker we sometimes make it out to be.
Guest author Wendy Dessler has some interesting food for thought on the subject.
One hundred years ago, there was no obesity problem in the country.
The obese person was rare. There were no modern conveniences. You cleaned houses with brooms, mops, and rags. You put in long days in the fields to grow food for your family. Washing clothes were done by hand in icy streams and wet clothes were hung to dry, then brought in and ironed with heavy irons heated on a wood stove.
Becoming overweight, with that amount of energy spent every single day would have been a challenge at best. People knew the food was fuel to keep the body strong and moving.
In our modern world of clothes dryers and clothes that do not require ironing, microwaves, television, computers, and smartphones, we have drastically reduced the amount of fuel our bodies need.
It simply does not take as much energy to watch a video of someone running, as it does to actually run.
Breaking it down
Every food has a purpose.
Every food provides something that is unique to that food and our bodies need it. There is no enemy food.
Fats are the most calorie packed foods we eat. But eliminating all fats from your diet is not a good thing. Fats provide nutrients that the human body cannot produce (like fatty acids). They help the proteins you eat do their job.
They are a source of fast energy when you need it. It is the same with carbohydrates and proteins. These foods are needed. They are not the enemy.
What about sugar?
Sugar has its place in the human diet. Sugar is a fast burst of energy when you need energy, but sugar is unique in that it provides a mental boost.
Professional dancers, gymnasts, and sports players agree we all need a little treat sometimes. This is a mental reward for staying in the program 90% of the time. You should allow yourself a 10% window for some candy or dessert. If you want to go sugar-free, order your candy sugar-free or gluten-free, or allergy friendly. But make room in your life for something special every now and then.
So why did we take carbs, fats, and sugars from our diets?
In simple terms, society began to slow down. We became more sedentary. We went from the fields to the office.
Our kids went from swimming in the lake, to video games.
We slowed down but our food consumption remained. This created an obesity problem. Once a society has an obesity problem, the way to deal with it is to cut calories.
The highly concentrated calories in fats, the nutritionally poor sugars, and the quick burning carbs had to go. The protein rich diets help us control the obesity problem.
But the reality is, you need the foods nature provides. Your job is to learn how these foods work and use them as they are intended to be used.
Eat carbs and limited amounts of fats before a workout. This helps you maintain your energy levels. Eat protein to rebuild your muscles. Learn the signals your body sends out to let you know what is needed and when.
The key to good health is to eat the foods you need in the quantities your body can use. When you consume the fuel (food) burn it off. Exercise is needed to use the fuel you just gave it. Excess, unused fuel turns to storage and the human body stores it as fat.
Eat smart and your body will respond. That includes treats from time to time. Nothing is off limits. You are in control.