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How are you doing? I hope you are happy and healthy.
It is so important to watch what we eat. You may already know this. You probably read about it in various health and fitness magazines. You may have heard it from different sources. Yet, you decided it is too difficult to start eating healthfully. Who wants to eat food that is tasteless or boring? On the other hand, you may be one of those individuals who have decided to eat healthy, so you can look and feel better. None of us should be forced, pressured or guilted into eating healthy. It took me many years before I learned that what I was eating was diminishing my overall health—mind, body and spirit.
I would like to share about my eating habits, past and present, and how making better, more informed choices has provided me copious benefits. I became physically fitter and healthier, but the beneficial results did not end there. Life still had its challenges, but the rewards I reaped after I started eating more healthfully included a more robust and fulfilling emotional, relational, mental and spiritual wellness. My sharing is not to boast about how healthy I am, nor am I purporting to be a health authority. I share in hopes of encouraging, motivating and inspiring you to take care of your body, your mind and your spirit.
I am a firm believer that our past presents us with a plethora of lessons that can enrich and enhance our present and future. My past eating habits were not the best. Far from it! Years ago, my typical breakfast was at a popular fast-food restaurant…two sausage and egg English muffin sandwiches, two hash browns, two orders of apple pie (individual size, not the whole pie), and an extra-large soda. I would eat this breakfast in about fifteen minutes. An hour or so later, I would scarf down a couple of donuts with some Pepsi. In one day, I drank two or more 2-liter bottles of Pepsi. I would stock up cans and bottles of Pepsi each week at the office and home. I have since learned that sodas have high fructose corn syrup, and a can of regular soda has about ten or more teaspoons of sugar.
Surprisingly, days would pass without pure water ever touching my lips. Fruits and vegetables rarely were found in my fridge. Fiber was something one finds in clothes, not in the foods I ate. My typical lunch, dinner and snacks were as unhealthy as my breakfast. Trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, preservatives, bad carbohydrates, processed foods, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), artificial colors and dyes, artificial flavors…that was my life, and I had plenty of it. Many times, even right before bedtime!
Although I was never overweight (don’t hate me), I was indubitably unhealthy, and my health was far from optimal. I truly believe that I would probably be dead had I continued to eat the way I did. Colon cancer is in my family health history, and eating all the processed foods would not have reduced those odds. Moreover, the junk foods I ate were devoid any fiber and essential nutrition, which is a major factor in developing colon cancer. In addition, I was lethargic, suffered from bad digestion, did not sleep well, had bad skin, had no self-confidence, was depressive, and many other health issues. In short, the quality of my life was deteriorated, and my longevity was diminished.
We all have choices. We all have free will. The choices we make everyday affect us in minor or major ways. In fact, our choices also affect those in our lives. A few years ago, I had to make a decision. Choose life and longevity OR bad health and an early death. Choose to enhance or diminish the quality of my life. I elected to live a life of health and wellbeing. I rejected an existence of misery and suffering. Knowing that a brighter and better future awaits us can help us make good changes in our lives. Looking and feeling better, sleeping better, healthier digestion, clearer skin, clearer mind, more energy, less pain, improved self-confidence—all these and many other benefits helped me make choices that improved my eating habits.
I strongly believe that when we say “NO!” to anything unhealthy (foods, habits, thoughts, people), we should say “YES!” to healthy things. When we give up something unhealthy, there is a vacuum. If the void is not filled with healthy alternatives, it will inevitably cause us to revisit and return to the unhealthy things, or we might start developing other unhealthy habits. With respect to my eating habits, when I gave up foods filled with empty calories, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, preservatives, bad carbs, processed ingredients, artificial colors and flavors, GMO’s, I started eating nutritious, wholesome foods.
I said “NO!” to unhealthful foods and “YES!” to healthful foods. I replaced sodas with water (with lemon is good also), fruit juices (without added sugar) and smoothies I make at home. I started drinking green tea (one of the best health decisions I made), which I highly recommend. I also drink white, red, black and other teas. At first, green tea tasted like I was drinking water with dirt, but my take is that, if something is truly good for me, I will learn to tolerate it (at least, most things). It did not take too long though for me to not just put up with the taste of green tea, but I have grown to enjoy it. These days, I drink about seven cups of tea a day, in addition to plenty of pure water.
I started incorporating as much raw, organic food into my diet as possible. I replaced white rice with brown rice. I replaced white bread with whole grain bread. I replaced white pasta with whole grain pasta. I replaced sugar and preservative-filled cakes and pies I bought at the store with baked goods I make at home with organic, unprocessed ingredients. I replaced hydrogenated oil will olive or coconut oils. I replaced refined sugars with honey, stevia, coconut palm sugar and other natural sweeteners. I started taking psyllium husk, apple cider vinegar, glucomannan (konjac root), and other natural supplements. Instead of gorging myself, I now eat in small portions and eat often. Instead of being slothful and sedentary, I started working out and exercising. Instead of seeing myself as unworthy of a gratifying life, I started seeing myself as deserving of a life of good health, happiness and hilarity.
The nutritious foods I still eat to this day are delicious, colorful and varied. My diet (eating regimen) is far from boring and bland. I do not starve myself, and I would splurge here and there…this can give many of you comfort and assurance that the journey to good health and fitness is totally do-able. The list of healthy foods that replaced the bad ones is lengthy. Replacing the bad with the good is a process and not an overnight event. It can be a difficult and challenging process. I even experienced some withdrawal symptoms. None of us is perfect, so I acknowledged and embraced my humanity. When I indulge and eat something not so healthy, I don’t give up. I do try to drink water with lemon and/or drink plenty of hot tea right away and/or take psyllium husk and/or take glucomannan supplement and/or work out a little harder.
The rewards and benefits of making these lifestyle changes are numerous. I will remain diligent, dedicated and disciplined to the life choices I made several years ago. One remarkable consequence was my blood test results. My triglyceride (fatty substance in the blood that can lead to heart disease) level was 198 (standard range is 150 or less). After making the health-enhancing changes, it is now 46! Amazing, no? From 198 to 46. And when it was at 198, I was not overweight, so those of you who are thin and think we can eat all those processed foods and not worry, please reconsider your choices.
I hope sharing my life/health journey has helped you in some small way. None of us is perfect, so let’s do the best we can in the pursuit of good health and wellness, not just physically, but emotionally, relationally, spiritual, and so on. Thank you for your time and attention. I pray, wish, and hope you make healthy choices for your life in all areas. You are not alone in this journey…and remember, we deserve to be well, fit and healthy!
To your total health!