Healthy Eating - Food as Medicine

What do we mean by Healthy Eating?

Healthy Eating

When we hear the term "healthy eating" there are many things that tend to cross our mind. Some of us will immediately think fruits and vegetables only. Others will picture a diet without carbs of any type. Others simply picture a miserable diet void of all their favorite foods. Perhaps it brings to mind images of thick, chalky dark green vegetable juice drinks or things like tofu and sprouts.

Whatever is triggered with that phrase, sadly, more often than not it's not only a negative association, it causes us to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. It is almost always associated with eating particular foods and not eating others, with being constricting and limiting.

But it doesn't have to be that way. When I think of healthy eating in this moment, I now think of the way I feel: more energetic, happier, less sluggish, less depressed. Let's face it. We grow up in a society in which frozen meals and fast food are staples. Where a meal is not complete without a sugar & fat laden dessert to follow. Where we think we deserve to eat only what we like and how we like it. Where we feel that portion sizes ought to fill our plate and then some.

So, how did I get to the place where I relish healthy eating? And how can you? My passion and zeal and dedication to eating healthy stems from an entirely new way of looking at food.

Instead of looking at food as a treat, as something to make me happy or soothe and console me, I now look at my food as medicine. I take it like I take a multivitamin - I take it with a purpose. With this mindset, the idea of "healthy eating" becomes very little about "less cake and more broccoli." It does away with the notion of "I can't ever eat that again because…" my hips will double. my jeans are already tight. it will go straight to my chubby cheeks. You fill in your blank. Instead, it becomes entirely about "that cupcake will do nothing for my energy" but "this almond butter and whole wheat toast combo is going to power me through my morning." "These blueberries are going to help me metabolize the rest of my protein, carbs and fat and give me fiber." See how quickly that one simple mindset changes things?

You suddenly lose your urge to devour a bowl of ice cream, simply because it will do nothing for you. A bowl of Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is going to offer you protein galore that will help you focus and keep you full for hours; its calcium is going to increase the strength of your bones. However, please note that I'm not saying food loses its enjoyment in this type of eating, because believe me, it doesn't. I have come to crave nuts and seeds and the crunch they bring to my food. I love the bite of my whole wheat bread, the thickness, the fullness. I can't wait to dig into a bowl of refreshing yogurt and blueberries. I enjoy my food just as much as I always have (and trust me, I love my food). But I never have to feel poorly physically as a direct result of my food, nor do I have any of the guilt associated with mindlessly inhaling a donut or two in the car on the way to work.

healthy eating

This "food as medicine" manner of eating also does not condemn any foods. Meaning: if you do occasionally splurge and eat cheesecake with your girlfriends on a night out, that's okay. It's not going to hurt you long term; it is good to enjoy your food. And we all have our cravings, that's just a fact of life. But when we make the cravings our splurges and not our way of life, we can focus on making ourselves healthier. Stronger. More alive. Balanced and stable.

Begin today, take your food with purpose and begin to care for your body with your daily meals. You'll see a difference, and you'll find yourself much more content and much, much healthier.

Author Tara Alley is a freelance writer dedicated to living a healthier, more fulfilled lifestyle and sharing her experiences with others. She currently writes alongside Coffee Home Direct.

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