Do you ever feel inundated with new information about what is healthy and what is not? There are plenty of new diets claiming to be the best along with proven studies to show how and why they work. For example, you might read an article about how a girl who gained 50 pounds attributes the weight gain to peanut butter, and then later that same day read a headline saying, “Peanut Butter is the Miracle Fat Burner.” The truth is you can find evidence for whatever you choose to believe.
So how do you know what to eat? Many people complain that they have no time to cook meals. We are living in a culture that is seduced by anything that mentions energy on it because we find ourselves overworked and exhausted. We drink caffeine to power through our day, buy fast food to save time, and eat our food while texting, driving, or working. It’s no wonder that we are confused what to eat. Chaos has become the norm.
As a result, our country’s health is suffering. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are leading causes of death for both males and females in the United States. Also, obesity has more than doubled worldwide since 1980. There is clearly a health crisis in this country; our nation is becoming unhealthy and overweight.
Life insurance rates are determined by the quality of your health, which is evaluated after a medical exam. Obese people can pay as much as double or more. Rates for diabetics can be up to triple what a perfectly healthy person would pay. When people with these (and other) conditions apply for life insurance, and find out that rates are higher, they often opt to go without coverage. So, ironically, those who need it most end up least likely to own it.
The good news is that taking control of your health is not as complicated as the media makes us believe. One thing the media often fails to mention is that we are all unique individuals. Perhaps your friend can eat all the peanut butter she wants and still lose weight while you find yourself feeling lethargic after just one spoonful. You’ll understand this better after reading these three vital health tips.
1. Everybody is different; get to know what works for you
If every human were the same, there would only need to be one item on every menu at every restaurant. As humans, we have different taste buds, different needs, and different foods energize each of us. Sure, everyone can benefit from reducing sugar, dairy, and packaged food intake, but do not feel discouraged if your spouse or friend thrives eating a certain way that is not working for you. If you are feeling tired, gaining weight, or constantly getting sick, it’s time to explore something different in your diet.
Ask yourself, “What foods am I currently eating that do not make me feel my best?” Get to know your body.
2. Find ways to enjoy spending time in your kitchen
You can read every article under the sun and you’ll probably never stumble upon a headline that says, “Eating Out Is Healthier For you Than Preparing Your Own Meals.” You are far likelier to eat healthy when you buy, prep, and cook your own food.
Ask yourself, “What is it that I do not enjoy about cooking my own food?” If the answer is time, find ways to save time. For example, if you like eating whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice, cook enough for you to eat for the whole week. Simply put the leftovers in Tupperware containers and keep it fresh in the fridge. Do this with your protein as well. Make enough fish, chicken, tofu, or beans at dinner to eat for lunch the next day. If you want to take ownership of your health, start by bringing back home-cooked meals.
3. Do not necessarily go on a diet; you do not need to cut foods out completely
People often find nutrition overwhelming because they are given strict orders about what to do. You do not need to say goodbye to all your favorite foods. Rather, add foods to your diet that make you feel great. Instead of putting ice cream on your “give up” list, try adding greens, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts to your diet.
You will find that after eating five servings of veggies during the day, the desire to devour a whole carton of ice cream in the evening lessens. When you fill your body with wholesome, nourishing foods, you will automatically start to want to eat healthier. The best part about adding these nutrient-dense foods to your diet is your body will start to naturally crave them. It is often more realistic to adopt new life habits than to go on a diet, which typically only last a few weeks. Be patient with yourself.
Don’t let outside factors—the media, friends, family—dictate how you go about being healthy. Remember to ask yourself, “How do I feel? How do I look? Do I think I could be healthier?” And if you believe you can feel better trying something different, try it. It’s really that simple.
Sami Udell is a Chicago native living in L.A. She is a certified holistic health coach committed to healthy eating, healthy living, and overall wellness. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and chef. Passion runs deep in Sami’s family—her brother Jake is a rising star on the music management scene and her dad Byron is one of the foremost experts in the country when it comes to life insurance (and the regular author of this blog).