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Lets talk food!

November 22, 2015

Food is a critical component of our health and life as a whole. It is a source of energy for our bodies and well as a tool for repair and regeneration of tissue. That alone should be enough reason for all of us to adopt ‘clean eating’ lifestyles, but it’s not that simple. Food plays many roles in our lives, for example, from long standing family traditions, to cultural preferences, to social standards. A little bit of something that is not good for your body will not pose an immediate threat, since your body is designed to protect you, inside and out. Unfortunately, eating/drinking that little bit of something that is not good for your body, over and over again consistantly for years and in greater amounts, will cause damage, sometimes even irreparable damage. The food choices you make as you go along in your life, will have an impact on your health later on, even though we don’t really see it when we’re young because we feel healthy and untouchable. Ask an older individual with diabetes, cancer or heart disease what they have learned about food, and most will reply, ‘I should have made better choices.’

My mom used to tell me when I was young, ‘you know, you can learn from other peoples mistakes, instead of knocking yourself in the head trying to figure it out on your own.’ This holds true even when it has to do with food. Information is readily available at almost anyones fingertips; you don’t have to go to college, you just have to have the desire to learn. You can educate yourself on healthy choices, and the numerous options you have available to you. Let’s look at a few…

So what are some of the reasons we make the food choices we do?

  • Personal preference: We pick certain things because of the flavors. Sweet, salty or spicy are some of the top choices. Unfortunately, these choices are not usually based on the nutritional content of the food, but the taste and preferance.
  • Habit: Some individuals eat a particular food at a designated time every day; for example cereal in the morning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if the choice of cereal is a good one. One of my favorite brands is Kashi! And the new ‘Indigo Mornings’ with dark berries is awesome, though I usually dump more fresh berries in mine!
  • Ethnic Heritage or Tradition: Many people eat the things they grew up eating. Others, like myself, thankfully gave up certain traditional foods from their cultures, like pig ears~ or ‘cuajitos’ like they are called in Spanish! One thing I will never give up though, are all the traditional Puertorican flavors which remain a huge part of my kitchen!!!
  • Social Interactions: Meals are important parts of most social gatherings and can range from light snacks to all out meals. The sharing of food in this setting is a very common one and part of hospitality.
  • Convenience: Unfortunately this is a sticky one; food that is quickly available, or can become quickly available with little to no preparation. Most of the foods that fall in this category are lacking the necessary nutrients our bodies need. But… hold on to hope, (and convenience), because there are options! If you don’t mind spending just once or twice a month putting in some prep time, you can have fast food that actually has tons of nutrition. One example I can offer… My oldest son loves home-made broccoli soup, and every so often I make a huge pot just for him and I, (no one else in the house really appreciates the wonders of broccoli soup). I then pack it in single serve stackable bowls and even include the extra toppings he likes, for example a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese, before putting them in the freezer. When he’s in the mood for something quick he can throw in the microwave to heat-n-eat, this is a great healthy option as opposed to the canned versions. Fast ‘healthy’ food!!!
  • Associations: Too often, people learn to like or dislike certain things based on their associations while growing up. Fun picnics with grilled hamburgers were awesome, but that nasty broccoli you HAD to eat during dinner was terrible. When we grow up, guess what? You still love burgers and still hate broccoli! So parents beware because you can truly shape your child’s nutritional likes and dislikes!
  • Emotional comfort: Whether to relieve bordom or to relieve anxiety this one is just as detrimental for your health as the ‘convenience’ category can be. It can easily lead to overeating and obesity, especially for individuals who suffer with unhealthy amounts of stress or anxiety in their lives. These circumstances truly deserve some helpful counseling intervention.
  • Religion or values: Certain things are either permanently or temporarily restricted from an individuals diet due to religious beliefs. Other may feel strongly about an issue and adopt a particualr diet because of their cause, such as an animal rights activist becoming a vegan or vegetarian.
  • Image: If this category is done for the right reasons, such as a body builder with solid nutritional knowledge trying to attain a certain image for their competition, then it is a good thing. When done for the wrong reasons, such as in anorexia or bulimia, then it is totally disastrous for your health. Again, the latter reason would definitely require therapeutic intervention because it can lead to permanent physical damage or even death.
  • Availability: This is a terrible and sad circumstance. Healthy foods have become increasingly pricier, and too many people are forced to have to make a choice between cheap or healthy. Food insecurity is a huge issue of contention in our country, that is alleviated with the Food Stamp program. Unfortunately, this program has unfair and negative connotations on behalf of the people that can easily afford the healthier food options without this program. Having to choose between cheap or healthy is truly physically debilitating for your body.
  • Nutrition: One of my favorite reasons! Making food choices, regardless of what type it is, because of the positive nutritional impact it may have on your health. It spans the wide (and often yummy) ranges of world-wide cuisines, because taste and nutrition are the sole requirements!!!

From → The Wife's Side

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