Nutritional health

It’s time to start eating real food, kicking bad habits

Sometimes I feel like a broken record. I keep saying, “Eat real food.”

A hundred years ago, I would be looked at very strangely if I said that to someone. The response would be something like, “Of course we eat real food. What else is there to eat?” Isn’t it remarkable how radically different things have become in such a short period?

A hundred years ago, supermarkets didn’t exist. You grew your own food, you bartered with your neighbor some of your milk for some of their veggies, etc. Everyone cooked every meal. There was no other way. What we call “food” today simply did not exist just a short while ago.

Well today things are so much simpler. Or are they? We have become accustomed to “fast and cheap food.” Our schedules are so full that we simply don’t have time to cook. We have fallen out of traditional ways of learning like watching our mothers and grandmothers. It can feel daunting to have to prepare a whole meal when you don’t really know what you’re doing or how to do it. And then, what if nobody likes it? Most kids (and adults) are completely out of touch with what actual, real food tastes like. The immediate response is almost always a resounding, “Yuck!” So what is a person to do? Just shrug our shoulders, peel back the plastic cover of a frozen meal and pop it in the microwave and say, “Oh well, at least they’re eating something!” 

Well, let me give you a different perspective.

Did you know that, for the first time in human history, this generation of children will live shorter, more illness-ridden lives than their parents? That is a very sobering thought.

As a parent myself, I want to do everything in my power to make sure that my child is healthy and strong and will live a very long and happy life. That’s every parent’s wish for their child, isn’t it?

Did you know that the changes we are seeing in our overall health today took generations to get to this state? The drastic rise in now-common health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, auto-immune disease, cancers, food allergies, autism, etc., didn’t just “suddenly” appear.

The good news is that, with simple and conscious choices today, we can reverse this trend for this generation of children and the generations to come. 

What will it take to do this? Things like education, creating new habits, reconnecting with the food we eat, caring for ourselves by learning recipes, taking the time to “Do Less and Be More,” and believing wholeheartedly that we, each of us, can make a difference in our own lives as well as the lives of our children.

Ready for some actual ideas? Pick one of the following that applies to you and give it your full commitment for 21 days.

∎ Kick the soda habit. We all know soda is bad for us. We can’t fool ourselves anymore. We also have to stop deceiving ourselves that “diet” soda is a better choice. Tip: ”Diet” anything is never a good choice!

∎ Stop eating fat-free/low-fat foods. If something that is supposed to have fat in it (like milk, for example) does not have fat in it, then it is no longer a real food. The only truly real dairy products are those with the fat fully intact. Fat is not the enemy we have been taught to believe.

∎ Drink water every day. Our bodies absolutely need water for survival. We know this. Yet we drink so little of it. Drinking beverages other than water is not the same as drinking water. Herbal (non-caffeinated) teas come close, but still not the same. “Flavored” waters are water with chemicals added — not real. If you want to flavor your actual water, squeeze a lemon or lime into it.

A guideline to go by is 1/ 2 of your body weight in ounces of water each day. So, if you weigh 150lbs, you should drink 75 ounces of water, just plain ol’ water, every single day. If you weigh 200 or more pounds, the upper limit should always be 100 ounces regardless of your weight. The best time to drink water is first thing in the morning and in between meals. Having a small glass with meals is OK, but better to limit the amount with food to 8 ounces.

∎ Get more sleep. I snuck this one in there even though it isn’t a food thing. Yet it relates to what we eat. First of all, so many of us are sleep deficient. We are, or feel like we are, in 24-hour “on” mode thanks to all our electronic gadgets that keep us connected to — what, I’m not really sure. The amount of sleep and the quality of our sleep affects how we function in general, but also it affects our metabolism, what foods we crave — a signal that our body needs something which, I assure you, is not that bag of chips — and our immune systems, among other things.

We need to change habits. Are you going to do it instantly? Perfectly? Well? No, no, and most likely yes, eventually. I love Einstein’s definition of the word insanity: “Doing things the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We have to do things differently to see different results. For our sake, for our children’s sake.

You can do it.

Jeni Hall of Dublin is a board certified nutritional therapist practicing in the Monadnock region. Her mission is to empower you to heal your own body and keep it healthy. See www. jenihall. com, for more information.

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