Friday, January 7, 2011

Looking Healthy vs. Being Healthy

So many new year's resolutions are about losing weight, and many people will diet to reach their goal. Our society has created so many low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie, and detox "diets", like the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the Grapefruit diet, or the 3-Day diet. You can even lose weight eating Little Debbie snack cakes for each meal. If your goal is weight loss, by all means, pick your diet. You'll LOOK healthier, but will you BE healthier?

There's a difference between looking and being healthy. Looking fit or losing weight is a superficial way of measuring our health. We can still have a beach body if we're consuming processed foods. We just simply eat fewer calories than we burn. However, our bodies are more likely to fall prey to disease if we're primarily consuming processed foods.

Food is a source of calories, which come from fat, carbohydrates, and protein, aka the macronutrients. These macronutrients are all necessary to our survival, but we need more. Certain foods also contain vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and many other essential micronutrients we probably have not yet discovered. We can add some of these micronutrients back into processed foods, but they may not provide the same benefits. Since scientists only study one nutrient at a time for the sake of controlling variables, we don't yet understand the effects these nutrients have on each other. For instance, beta-carotene is a carotenoid found in carrots and a precursor to vitamin A, which helps prevent eye problems, but when beta-carotene is taken as a supplement it increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. In other words, we can supplement our diets with beta-carotene, but it does not have the same effect as eating a REAL carrot that contains beta-carotene. This may be because the other compounds in the carrot have a synergistic effect, and the combination of compounds that make up the carrot are what is truly beneficial to our health. If we're eating REAL foods, we're eating many nutrients that most likely interact with each other to provide the best benefit to our bodies. And if we're eating REAL foods to begin with, there's most likely no need for supplementation. So the answer to our unhealthy lifestyles isn't in a supplement or in refined foods that have been packed with all the nutrients we have discovered. A healthy body is a result of eating REAL foods. If we can look past the beach bodies and focus on what we're consuming rather than getting rid of our saddle bags and muffin tops, we will BE healthy...and happier.

1 comment:

  1. Hallelujah! Yes, yes, yes! I have never been more UNHEALTHY as when I was a size 2. I am much healthier as a size 12--although would still like to drop some pounds. I have completely changed the way I shop and cook since I've moved home to Seattle. Part of the reason is b/c we're on this journey to be debt free. The other reasons are Tahana S. and Lisa W. I was so impressed by Tahana's cooking and baking everything from scratch I decided to try it. And Lisa, I will never forget when you told Kasey to eat things that "grow out of the ground" and to stay away from the center of the grocery store. Sometimes, I look in the pantry and long for something I can shove in my mouth without "making." But in the end, I feel much better about myself as a mommy when I MAKE the pizza dough rather than buy the "organic" pizza dough. Thanks for this post!