“You are what you eat.”
You hear it all the time, right? In fact, we hear it so often, indeed we have heard it so often, that we have internalized it. We know that when we eat junk food, we are creating junk bodies. We know that food that is not good for us can lead to long term health problems like heart disease and diabetes, cancer and dementia.
These are not controversial statements anymore.
But Restrictive Dieting Does Not Work
Of course, no one expects us to never have a single fast food cheeseburger and fries, a bag of cheesy tortilla chips, or a few of those deliciously bad for you sour gummy worms.
We all venture into the world of junk or processed food on occasion.
The truth is, restricted dieting does not work. Trying to entirely eliminate a food group from your diet can have more negative effects than good ones.
When you entirely eliminate any food from your diet, you can get really sick if you ever “slip up” and reintroduce it to your body.
If you cut gluten out for good, your body becomes more sensitive to it, so if you have a sandwich with regular bread, a pancake breakfast, or even a beer out with your buddies, you can feel the effects of gluten on your now sensitive body almost immediately.
Same goes for dairy, sugar, caffeine, anything.
In fact, people who have never had fruits and vegetables in their diet on a regular basis can become inflamed when they eat something as simple as kale.
All Things in Moderation
The key is to practice moderation in all things, especially in your diet.
If you have been enjoying far too much junk and processed food, you’ll know it.
You feel tired, heavy, sluggish, and low energy throughout your day. Indeed, you may feel tired and sluggish after your meal.
That’s not good.
Food should make you feel energized and light on your feet.
So your goal should be to integrate foods into your diet that make you feel this way - lean proteins, complex carbohydrates like quinoa, legumes like lentils, leafy greens like spinach, healthy fats like avocado.
Even one meal, especially your midday meal, that consists of a combination of these energizing foods can change your day.
Then, allow yourself to enjoy your “junk foods” on occasion, as treats, not as part of your daily routine.
Have pancakes on the occasional Sunday morning. Treat yourself to chocolate cake on a date night. Grab a burger and fries out with friends once a month. And just know that it will make you feel tired and sluggish, so don’t plan to head out and play baseball that afternoon!
Nutrition Affects Everything
The reality is that “you are what you eat” is more telling that we can even comprehend most of the time.
What you eat not only affects your long term health and your short term energy levels. It also affects your sleep, your mental health, your mood, your immediate immune system, your fertility, your libido, your skin, your vision, and on and on and on.
Did you know that sugar has an instant impact on your immune system? It’s true. For 5 hours after you have a sugar spike, your immune system is suppressed. This fact means that if you have a milkshake, for example, and then you are exposed in the next few hours to a virus or bacteria, you are more likely to become infected than if you had not had that milkshake.
Crazy but true.
So, if you are someone who consumes sugar daily, throughout your day, you are lowering your immune system and making yourself more susceptible to illness and disease every single day.
Again, the takeaway here is not that you should never have sugar.
It is that you should be mindful of when and how you have sugar.
Because you are what you eat.
The Mediterranean Diet
To date, the only diet to be extensively studied by scientists is the one most often referred to as “The Mediterranean Diet.”
It is high in lean proteins like fish, turkey, and chicken, low in red meat and dairy, and includes healthy fats like olives and olive oil, whole grains and lots of plants. It also allows for a glass of wine daily for those who drink alcohol.
The key to this highly successful diet, which has shown to achieve overall healthy weight, longer lifespan, and healthier outcomes in terms of illness and disease, is that it is a lifestyle.
People don’t “go on the Mediterranean diet” to lose weight and then go back to eating burgers and fries every day and drinking milkshakes for breakfast.
They live the Mediterranean diet for the rest of their lives. And they integrate other aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle like movement and mindfulness.
Because nutrition affects everything. When you eat a diet rich in nutrients, plant heavy and low in processed foods, you feel better. When you feel better, you have more energy. When you have more energy, you want to move more. When you move more, you have even more energy.
Now you’re in a good mood!
When you’re in a good mood for a sustained amount of time, it is no longer a mood; it is your temperament.
Now you’re just a happy, healthy person.
You sleep well, you eat well, you move a lot, and you make friends everywhere you go.
Life is good.
And it all starts with what you put in your mouth.
Start with Agua Fresh
At Agua Fresh, our entire philosophy revolves around this concept of starting with food and ending with a great life.
All of our meals are sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, and made from scratch in house.
We pour love into our food, because we love to see people happy and healthy.
If you are struggling with your diet and lifestyle and you just don’t know where to begin, you are not alone.
Come into Agua Fresh, and we’ll help you integrate great food that nourishes your body into your day.
Start here. End up happy.