Happiness Series: Nutrition

How does the food we eat effect our happiness? On the surface, the food we eat can physically make us feel good or gross, but I have found there is more of a link to happiness through food than just how our stomach takes it. The food we choose has a huge emotional impact. Food can be nostalgic or comforting. We view some food as a reward or a guilty pleasure. Craving “junk” can make us feel ashamed or deprived. Trying something new can make us feel adventurous. Food can be beautiful and sensuous, and artistic! Food can give us energy to live life! Food can even cure illnesses! 

It feels like everywhere I look there is a new fad diet popping up. The sheer volume of shaming and conflicting information we are bombarded with regarding food is overwhelming. Page after page of “Don’t eat this” and “Don’t eat that”, what are we left with? Searching for ideas on how to incorporate a healthier diet into our life, could almost convince me to give up on food altogether. But I love food! I refuse to live on a diet of celery and cucumber water. On the other hand, I don’t want to live on donuts and potato chips either.

We should want to fuel our bodies, so we have the energy to do the activities we love! We should be able to eat a wide variety of food that tastes wonderful and still provides the nutrition our bodies need! Let’s not aim for perfection, let the goal be balance!

I am not a medical professional and I needed guidance on what a balanced and healthy diet looked like. I consulted my primary care doctor and was referred to a nutritionist in my area.

From that first appointment my life and view of food was changed forever! 
These tips might just change your life too! 

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Fruits and Veggies

Resolution #2: Eat 3 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies every day

I have always loved to bake; cookies, cakes, sweets of any kind really. I was not much of a cook though. I could get by if I had a recipe to follow but it didn’t come naturally to me as it does to some people. My husband on the other hand is an amazing cook. He is one of those people who can just toss random things together and create a masterpiece. He’s from Arkansas so his style of cooking, while delicious is far from healthy. A few years ago my husband was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, a genetic (in his case) condition that has to be carefully managed and makes it very difficult for his body to digest food. To help treat his condition we have to be very careful that he eats as little fat as possible. It’s not a question of good fat vs bad fat, his body just simply can not digest fat. We have to keep each meal below 10 grams of fat and nutrition labels have to be carefully reviewed. We quickly discovered that my husbands style of cooking was far outside his dietary restrictions. He had a very difficult time changing the way he cooks so I took over the kitchen. I am proud to announce that my cooking skills and creativity has increased immensely over the last few years but I’m still learning.

Even with the intense detailed attention we pay to the food we consume we sometimes get so distracted by the fat content that we forget there are other nutritional factors to consider. I always try to serve a vegetable with dinner and make enough for left overs for lunch the next day but beyond that we don’t really think about how many fruits and vegetables we are (or aren’t) eating. I am lucky to be surrounded by positive food choices because the company I work for provides a wide selection of fruits and other healthy snacks for the employees to enjoy. Even so, I find myself overlooking those healthy options and choosing the worst possible snacks. No more I say!

Starting now I will eat:
1 serving of fruit with my breakfast every morning.
1 serving of fruit for a mid morning snack.
1 serving of vegetables with lunch.
1 serving of vegetables for an afternoon snack.
1 serving of vegetables with dinner.
1 serving of fruit for dessert.

We all know that fruits and vegetables are very beneficial to a healthy life.  I fortunately love both so this resolutions hopefully won’t be too difficult to keep. You may be wondering why I need a resolution if I already enjoy fruits and vegetables. The simple answer is I enjoy candy and potato chips more. I believe depriving yourself of what you truly want will only make it harder to make wise choices. In an effort to keep balance between what I need and what I want I will allow myself to indulge in a reasonable amount of sweet and salty snacks on the weekends and holidays.

What healthier food changes do you want to make in your life?