Module 3: Lesson 3
Eat Healthy (15 min)
> Healthy food = healthy mind and body
Hold up there cubicle cowboy, put down that double cheeseburger and nobody will get hurt.
You've heard this millions of times, "You are what you eat." Put low-grade over-processed crap into your body and your body will get all messed up.
Eat good stuff and good stuff happens.
Your mind and body are energy consumers. As that energy gets low, it needs to recharge just like your smartphone. The energy comes in the form of food, which your body processes to grow, heal, strengthen and function.
What you eat and drink will largely determine how your body will work. Eat crappy stuff and your body will struggle to function properly. Eat good stuff and your body will operate optimally.
Simple stuff, right?
However, every month, there’s an article about how a certain food is bad for you. Then, the following month, another article says that the same food is actually good for you.
It’s like with eggs. Some say eggs are good for you (high in protein) while others say it’s not (high in cholesterol).
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
It’s confusing and sometimes, you don’t know what to eat.
For decades, many people followed the old US government’s food pyramid. It was very carbohydrate heavy with bread, pasta and rice as the base foundation of the entire diet.
Today, we know more about refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and white rice and how it affects our bodies. Refined carbs are essentially grains that have been refined or processed to remove the fibers, vitamins and minerals, so they become “empty calories” with little nutritional value.
In 2011, the USDA introduced a new format for educating the public on nutrition.
It’s the MyPlate infographic, which replaces the old food pyramid. It’s a plate with sections to show recommended food distributions.
But it was still lacking in some areas.
So, the nutritional experts at the Harvard School of Public Health revised it. We think their version is the easiest to understand and follow.
Realistic Healthy Eating Habits
Can you eat healthy all the time?
No way, not gonna happen. In the real world, it’s hard to do and not realistic. And, we’re all about being realistic.
Here’s our simple strategy:
> Get small wins early to build success
> Build up to eating healthy most of the time
> Allow yourself to indulge every now and then
Get one or more of these small wins first:
- Skip the office pizza, birthday cakes and donuts
- Replace carb-heavy breakfast with unsweetened oatmeal and fresh berries
- Reduce sugar in coffee from your normal amount to half to quarter to none
- Replace powdered creamer or cream with fresh low fat milk
- Drink water instead of sodas or other sugary drinks
- Eat bite-sized fresh fruit or unsalted nuts and seeds not sugary vending machine snacks
- Ask for whole wheat or multigrain on your sandwiches
- Drink less coffee (one is good) and more tea
Then, step it up to the next level.
After you’ve got several of the smaller wins achieved consistently, shift your target to one or more of these next phases.
- Go “Meatless Mondays” and have lots of veggies and fruits and salad instead
- Eat healthy 2x a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
- Eat healthy 3x a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
- Cut back on carbs (white bread, white rice and pasta)
- Say no to french fries, buffalo wings and other deep-fried foods
- Eat leafy greens over iceberg lettuce in your salads
- Use less salad dressing or use olive oil and vinegar instead
- Replace most of your red meat meals with chicken or fish or tofu
As your success momentum continues, keep on track and aim to get to the point where you’re eating healthy most of the time without even thinking about it.
Your long-term target is to eat healthy during the work week.
That means from Monday morning breakfast until Friday lunch, eat plenty of fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and get your proteins from fish or chicken (very little red meat). Really cut back on eating over-processed foods. The more natural and unprocessed it is, the better.
Once Friday night rolls around, it’s the weekend, baby!
It’s okay to let loose a bit and savor some of your favorite foods and drinks over the weekend. However, let’s keep things within reason.
Use portion control strategy - stop eating once you’re not hungry anymore versus stuffing yourself full or if you’re dining out, split and share an entree.
Don’t go overboard - like inhaling a half dozen candied bacon covered donuts as your weekend brunch. That’s fucking gross.
As you improve your nutrition and eating habits, your body will reward you with better energy, mood, functioning and most of all, it will boost your stress immunities.
This short TED Talk video below lays it all out in simple terms.
VIDEO: How The Food You Eat Affects Your Brain
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: TED-Ed