Why Is a Healthy Diet So Important?
Today, we'll explore a topic that many people take for granted in today's world: health.
Health is one of the central aspects of our lives. Health determines the shape we are in and can even change the way we live our lives. It's not one static thing that determines our health, either. Every single second, we are affected by our surrounding environmental factors, from chemicals to air pollution, weather, and technology. We are also affected by our social environment – do your co-workers stress you out, do your kids get on your nerves from time to time? While this is unavoidable, human interaction plays just as large of a role in our day-to-day health as our physical surroundings and even the thoughts we tell ourselves. In the grand scheme of things, what makes a healthy diet so important? How could one more chip really affect your life so much?
The Willpower to Say No
You may be reading this while snacking on one of your guilty pleasure foods whether it's potato chips, a sugary cereal or gourmet ultra-mocha cappuccino hot chocolate (yes, beverages count too!) Unfortunately, if you're trying to lose fat or simply cut out processed foods, then you know that these are terrible for your health. It's just so hard to put it down and say, “no, I won't eat any more.” Fortunately, there is a piece of wisdom that has served many people well on their journey to improved health.
Willpower isn't “I won't eat those chips,” willpower is “I won't buy those chips.”
If you don't have it in your home, if you don't make it available to your craving-driven stomach, you won't eat it, it's that simple. Of course, you can't just cut yourself off cold turkey without having withdraws. The important part is to replace your guilty pleasures with healthier ones.
The alternatives to many junk foods can sometimes taste even better than the original food. Of course, starting out, you're going to crave the original food. Your body takes time to adjust to changing your diet, which is why many people struggle with strict dieting routines. A few of our favorite food replacements are:
- Instead of chips, munch on some black olives.
- For that crunch-factor, bake thinly-sliced and spiced zucchini until crisp.
- Feeling the need for cereal? Grab some granola, berries, nuts and cacao nibs and toss them into a bowl with milk.
- Instead of candies, try pecan or walnut slices. For added sweetness, include a few cacao nibs.
- Switch your buttery popcorn for air-popped popcorn made with coconut oil and a small amount of Celtic salt sprinkled over the top.
- Instead of crackers filled with preservatives and artificial flavors, make your own with simple homemade cracker recipes.
- Switch your normal juice out for citrus-infused water or juice your own vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid sodas by switching to natural seltzer or tonic water.
- Replace all of your added sugar with Stevia.
Here's a bonus healthy tip: if you're having trouble with your digestion or metabolism, try sprinkling some freshly ground turmeric on your food. After a couple of weeks, you'll start to notice a difference.
But Why Do We Crave Things?
We crave things thanks to a small colony of living bacteria in our body: our gut microbiota.
To tell a long story short, it comes down to this: our gut has living bacteria that takes what we normally eat and tends to crave more of that diet.
If you eat a bag of potato chips every week and then stop, you're going to find yourself craving potato chips until those microbes die out and are replaced with microbes that crave whatever you've been eating in the meantime. You may even get withdraws from potato chips such as irritability and poor quality of sleep for a few days.
While this is slightly unsettling news, the even more unsettling news is this: our gut bacteria has found a way to hack into our brain's reward system and induce cravings for certain foods and even avoid other foods. That means that when it seems impossible to set the chip bag down, the thousands of microorganisms that are living in your gut are controlling your eating habits.
The Benefits of a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet plays an important role in our lives, getting us the nutrients we need to thrive and live. Our bodies react to each ingredient we put into it. Have you ever noticed greasy foods causing a skin breakout or making you 'feel' greasy? You can thank the food for that. Avocados, for example, contain omega-3 fatty oils, which are an essential fat to keep your brain and body healthy and responding quickly.
Eating more of this will help increase the energy you have during the day and aid your memory. If you've ever felt like you were in a cloud, it could also be due to the food you're eating. Food plays a role in our brain chemicals and emotions just as much as it does our physical bodies.
If you're interested in cutting out the bad cravings, switching to a vegetarian or a vegan diet can help you find healthy and creative alternatives to many snack-time munchies. Don't worry – if you think health food tastes bad, just let your gut micro-organisms adjust. Soon you won't be able to get enough healthy food and you'll even begin craving what is healthy for your body. Don't believe us? Just give it a try.