Health Column: You feel what you eat



By Mary Austin

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I never understood the phrase “you are what you eat.” Yes, what you eat becomes your living body, but the phrase makes me picture a burger or zucchini with eyes and limbs sticking out. A better way to describe food’s importance is “you feel what you eat.”

Last week, I talked about health in terms of weight management, but health is more than the number on the scale. To those of you who think you are invincible or just do not care about what goes into your pie hole, read on. Here are some reasons to care about health.

Wellness is not determined by weight. There are plenty of skinny people starving for nutrients or a little more healthy fat in their diet, as there are people who have some extra baggage with perfectly normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Health is more than personal. The decisions you make as a grocery shopper or fast foodie have a ripple effect on the larger community. Our food system affects the environment in many ways. Think about the gas required to transport food around the world. Also, conventionally-grown foods use methods that harm the soil and cause ecological problems. How you spend your dollar matters.

Take the extra step to find something sustainably grown. Buy produce and starve out the junk food giants. Find out who farms your food and use your role as a consumer as your chance to make a change in the local economy, the earth and in your own body and spirit.

By now you probably think that I just want to make everything hunky-dory and have no regard for how much it costs. Well you are wrong. (Did you picture the tons upon tons of gas used in the food industry?) Not caring is costly. By neglecting health, we place more dependence on the pharmaceuticals (not to mention insurance and Medicare). I am not denying that drugs or hospitals save lives every second of the day, but depending on them as much as we do is pricey. Of the top five reasons people visit the emergency room, not one is accident-related (in example car crash or cut). Care for yourself and over time you may not be rushed to the ER.

Maybe you don’t frequent the hospital, but how much do you spend on sleep aids, cough or stomach meds, or skin products? These are helpful every now and then when things are off balance, but Nyquil and Proactiv are only treating symptoms of poor health. Spend a buck on fresh whole foods—don’t buy things with an ingredient list as long as this column — and in return, your body will thank you.

So feel what you eat. Feel how it can make a positive change in all aspects of your life. This is true health.