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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fast is not a Food Group ~ Proper Nutrition (Part 1)

"You are what you eat" my inner goddess admonishes me as I consume a hamburger. I sigh at her constant nagging and banish her to the far reaches of my mind. However, she is really doing her best to do me a favor. You see, our body has an amazing ability to heal itself given the proper nutrition. We have barely begun to understand what this concept truly means and what simple things we can do to ensure we stay healthy far into our golden years.

My inner goddess looks up from her research on the internet. She looks gleeful which can only mean one thing. She is fixing to lecture me on something she finds interesting. Normally I tune her out, however let’s humor her for once and see what information she has to share with us today.

We have to travel back in time a few centuries and peek in on our ancestors much like Ebenezer Scrooge with the ghost of Christmas past. Behold the corn fields and gardens of fresh produce. Lettuce, tomatoes, okra, green beans, carrots, radishes, potatoes, squash and many other vegetables are being cultivated. Peaches, apples, oranges, lemons, limes, watermelon, and many other fruits grow. Milk fresh from the cow, cream skimmed off the top and churned into butter for fresh baked bread. Eggs plucked from under the chickens daily. Fresh meat being brought in from the hunt to be roasted or stewed on the fire smells delicious. All this abundance, no extra sodium added, no preservatives nor processed food. Granted this had it’s own challenges but people tended to waste less and be creative with how to store food by drying or canning it so that it could be eaten during the winter or in later months.

Holding onto the ghost’s hand we are tossed back onto a street corner today, as his laugh echoes while he vanishes. As far as the eye can see, fast food restaurants line the streets. Supermarkets teem with brightly colored, low nutrition, mouth watering convenience in mostly the over processed variety. Fresh is not just caught like it once was, now it’s 2 week old eggs or several day old fish. Yet, we marvel at how illness such as Diabetes, Obesity and Heart Disease are prevalent in our society. Is there a correlation? My inner goddess nods in assent as she frowns and wags her finger at me. "By jove I think you've got it" she says.

I hang my head because I know what she’s going to say next. I’m the worst at eating healthy. Being a busy Mom and wife I am on the go constantly and my diet suffers for it. I simply do not take the time to plan ahead and ensure I am eating properly. I grab something fast and forget it, easing the rumbling of my tummy but adding pounds on my booty. None of this which is good for me, or you for that matter, as an end result. What is worse, is that I am setting a terrible example for my children and I am teaching them bad habits that they will carry with them for a lifetime.

A 2010 study shows that less than 10% of Americans eat the right amount of vegetables and fruit daily. How much should you have daily? My inner goddess lifts up a plate with 2 cups of fruit in one hand and 2 ½ cups of vegetables on a plate in the other as she looks smugly at us. Here is a great website that shows visually how much equals a cup which is a great resource.

In summary, despite the abundance we have in our modern lives, we do not choose to eat properly. As a result, we are depriving our bodies of the nutrition it needs to function properly. This in turn leads to illnesses, that in many cases could have been prevented, to be on the increase. Obviously changing the way we eat is key, however that is easier said than done. Habits are formed over time and with education to reinforce the lessons learned.

My inner goddess will share with you, in the next parts of this series, all you would want to know and learn about nutrition to help you have a better understanding of how it affects your body and why it helps ward off illness. I invite your comments and questions and hope to see you back as we explore nutrition in depth.

Kathie Hitt