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Thoughts About Diet by Alec Smith

What comes to mind when you hear the word diet? Is it low-fat, restricting calories, eliminating foods, or avoiding carbohydrates? Does it remind you of previous, unsuccessful attempts at weight loss, celebrities, or the French and their seemingly uncanny ability to keep the weight off? If you answered “yes” to any of the following, then you are in good company. The vast majority of Americans see the word “diet” as having a negative connotation. .. and unfortunately, rightfully so. Take for example the magazines at the checkout in the grocery store. Claims of losing 15 pounds in 2 weeks or dropping 4 dress sizes by June when it’s already late May are simply unrealistic and unattainable. So how should we view a diet?

The truth is that we all have a “diet”. Let’s look at an example of a typical timeline of eating habits, or diet, through the years. As a little tike, we rely on Gerber and by age six or so, we are only interested in pizza, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and macaroni and cheese. Once we obtain the coveted drivers license, drive through fast food takes a front seat. Then we land a job and with it, a few bucks. Sit down restaurants become more of a staple in our lives. It’s convenient, tasty, and there is no clean up. The allure is certainly understandable. But somewhere along the line we lost sight of what’s really important. We put convenience in the number one spot and moved nutrition to the back burner. We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, but have you ever really stopped to think about that? It’s a powerful message, and an important one.

Did you know research shows that most Americans eat the same 15-20 or so foods on a regular basis? Not only does this mean that we are potentially missing out on a plethora of nutrients, antioxidants, and other disease fighters, but what if those 15-20 foods are coming from the wrong sources altogether? Here is where many of us fall short.

Nutrients and Antioxidants

Diet and Proper Weight

You see, variety is not only the spice of life, but the key to living a longer, healthier, happier one as well… at least from a nutrition standpoint. By choosing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables with varying colors, we are able to obtain the many nutrients that help fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. And while fruits and vegetables are certainly an important part of a healthy diet, they are not the only foods to consider. Whole grains from breads, rice, pasta, cereals, bulgur, barley, rye, quinoa, and even popcorn provide us with energy, fiber, and other essential micronutrients such as folate and B-vitamins. Protein from foods such as chicken, fish, turkey, lean red meats, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, and soy products help to not only build strong muscles, but they also help to keep us feeling full. With its bone strengthening calcium and vitamin D as well as protein, B-vitamins, and electrolytes, milk and other low-fat dairy products round out a well-balanced diet.

So do pie, ice cream, potato chips, cakes, and cookies fit into a balanced and healthy diet? Absolutely. In moderation, these types of foods are not only able to fit into one’s diet, but they can be essential to maintaining a healthy weight. That’s right, I said essential. By completely depriving ourselves from a piece of cake at a birthday party or that slice of apple pie at Thanksgiving, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Complete deprivation of the foods we enjoy is about as realistic as losing 15 pounds in 2 weeks. So from time to time, enjoy a handful of potato chips or a scoop of Cherry Garcia. Just remember to keep it in moderation and you are well on your way to healthier, happier you.