Healthy Food, Pffft

If you’ve never seen Kid History Episode 6, I feel like now would be an appropriate time for you to see it.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, just watch this one little part at 1:17 (so you can at least know how the title of this post is to be read).

My roomies always make fun of me because I’m one huge walking irony. I am always trying Paleo/clean-eating/organic recipes, buying all-natural foods, making replacements for yummy things (like black bean brownies, which I am STILL HEARING COMPLAINTS ABOUT like 3 months later!). I love salads, I try to include vegetables in almost all my meals, and instead of breakfast cereal I usually make smoothies with berries and kale. Seems pretty like a pretty sound game plan, right?

The irony comes in when I start eating Doritos as a study snack and end up eating like a million of them, or have unstoppable cravings for Panda Express, or decide to make a dense, gooey, delicious (and of course, calorie-and-fatty-goodness PACKED) chocolate cake at 10:00 PM. I want to be healthy, but I’m terrifyingly inconsistent. How much of a problem is this? Debatable. Some would argue that the stress and guilt of trying and failing to follow a strict regimen are actually worse than the adverse effects of “unhealthy” food (me. I would argue this). Plus, some food just tastes SO GOOD, and no amount of “this will give you diabetes” can change that. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try to take care of myself.

I’m not saying I have perfected this. I’m in an experimental phase right now. I’m trying new recipes, brands, and tactics for eating healthy. I’m developing opinions about what is worth sacrificing a few points on the health scale to gain a few on the taste scale, and what satisfies cravings just as well in a revamped, more healthy form.

One recipe I’ve loved so far can be found here: Peach Balsamic Rosemary Chicken

I ate it with brown rice and loved it! Just be warned, it might not look as beautiful as their pictures, and picky eaters may not be tempted by its appearance. When I made it the sauce was kind of just a brown sludge . . . don’t let that discourage you, though.

Then another recipe I’ve actually made multiple times (which, since I’m in a so-called experimental phase, that’s a big deal). It satisfies my cookie cravings without all the things I’m (supposedly) trying to avoid. Here’s the original recipe, if you’re interested. This is a good one if you’re trying to avoid wheat and/or cut back on sugar.

I actually altered it slightly by leaving out the walnuts (I didn’t have any) and adding chia seeds, flax, and chocolate chips. I know, I know, chocolate chips don’t really mesh with the whole “uber-healthy” idea. But they make the cookies much more tasty, and the final product is still healthier than the alternative . . . right?

As long as you don’t expect them to taste as fabulous as your classic chocolate chippers, they are a good substitute for constant snackers like me. (And believe me, cookies are an important part of my life. I will never trust a love language test until I find one that includes “cookies” as one of its categories).

Here’s a picture my roommate insisted on taking when I accidentally put in too many raisins and they all fell out and puffed up like crazy little puffer fish in the oven.

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So there you go. Try the recipes if you want, or don’t. I’ll keep you updated on my search for healthy recipes that don’t have end results resembling toasted cardboard or sauce-covered dirt.

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aubsglaz’s Comprehensive Guide to Overall Health

To understand why I’m writing this, read my previous post about health: What Does “Healthy” Even MEAN? Part 1: Why You Should Care

On another note, my social media name doesn’t work too well in the possessive. Oh well. We’ll talk about that some other day, because today is a special day. It’s the day where you get the most brief, real, and hopefully (but no guarantees, okay, I’m no expert) useful guide to health.

I know swimsuit season is ending, and frumpy sweater season is right around the corner (hooray for sweater weather!), but that doesn’t mean taking care of yourself isn’t important anymore. If you disagree, go read my last post. Or, for that matter, any health book ever written. Good health contributes to overall happiness year-round and has a lot more to it than just weight.

The toughest part about being healthy, for me at least, is knowing what really matters and what doesn’t. I’ve tried to read, watch, and listen to what a lot of different people say. A lot of opinions conflict, but a precious few tips have remained generally consistent across the board. Those, as well as things that have personally helped me to feel better, are what I’ll include here.

1–Love yourself! This is more important than you think. If you don’t care about yourself, why would you make sacrifices to stay healthy? Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t where you want to be yet. Nothing ruins a diet (or any health plan) quicker than guilt and remorse. And remember that your goal should be to be happy: not to have a body just like someone else’s. Like I mentioned earlier, health means much more than just weight.

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2–Water. Drink a lot of it, especially when you sweat. I tend to drink a lot of water, so when I don’t, I notice a big difference. It helps a lot in the morning, as well. I know how hard waking up can be (NOT a morning person here), and chugging a glass of water when my alarm goes off gets me going each day.

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3–Exercise. I think we all know that we should exercise. But actually implementing a consistent program is tough. I’m still working on this. I’m usually great for a couple weeks, then I get lazy, then I start to feel awful, so I start again, then I get busy or tired, and I don’t keep up with it, and so goes the cycle . . . sound familiar to anyone? If not, I commend you for your dedication. If so, I think the key is to not expect too much of yourself. Doing something is better than nothing. Instead of feeling like you have to set aside an hour or more to go to the gym or run several miles, you can go for a short run/walk or do a Tabata workout (they are only 4 minutes) or other forms of HIIT. (I’ll actually be writing a follow-up post about this).

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4–Natural and whole foods. I’m not going to say that everyone needs to vow to never again buy or consume anything that is not 100% natural, organic, raw, and vegan. Only the most determined of people can keep up an extreme regimen like that, and it’s just not reasonable or desirable for everyone. We could all afford, however, to include more natural foods in our diet. If you think about what you’re putting into your body when you eat processed, pre-packaged, and fast foods, it’s a little bit scary. People were meant to eat what comes from the earth, not from a lab. I’m not going to tell you to eat a certain number of vegetables, fruits, etc. each day, because I know that ends up just sounding like a to-do list and it’s tough to keep up with. Just keep it in mind as you make daily food decisions. For example, you could decide to eat some salad with your dinner instead of frozen french fries. It takes about the same amount of work/time/money but your body will be much happier.

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5–Sleep. I know, you’ve heard it before. I know, it’s basically impossible when there is so much to do every single day. But my sagely (hah) advice is: figure out how much sleep you need every night in order to be happy and productive the next day. For me, it’s at least 8 hours. For some, it’s much less. Whatever it is, remember that it’s more worth your time to get that amount of sleep than to stay up doing something else. For me this is really hard because I get this big burst of energy at night and I suddenly feel like doing everything. Then, I pay serious consequences in my classes the next day . . . it’s a good thing that I’m writing this to remind myself that I need to work on this!

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Well I think we’ll just leave it at those 5 for now. I hope this is helpful/motivational for some of you. If not, let Andy from Parks and Rec be an inspiration to you.


What Does “Healthy” Even MEAN? Part 1: Why You Should Care

Don’t tell me you’ve never asked yourself this. Do diet sodas really make you gain more weight than regular sodas? Are granola bars better than candy bars, or not really? Does everything have to be organic? Should I become a vegetarian? Or should I worry about cutting out carbs? etc. etc.

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It’s tough to filter through and figure out what’s true and what isn’t, what’s helpful and what’s a sham, what’s a fad and what’s actually beneficial. And sometimes it’s just hard to care enough. It’s easy to sacrifice long-term health for short-term satisfaction (late-night Sodalicious runs anyone? Free Chick-Fil-A days? When mom makes home-made brownies?) But the older I get (I’ve been alive for over 2 decades, this is serious), the more I research, and the more I just think about it, the more I realize that it’s worth it.

I’ve been studying a lot lately. (Okay just like the Mozart thing, when I say a lot, I mean browsing a little here and there out of curiosity). I have a minor thyroid problem (which I’ll talk about some other day because it’s surprisingly common) which has encouraged me to watch more closely what I eat, my sleep habits, and be more concerned with my overall health. Plus, getting old happens fast. I know I’m only 21, but, man…I can’t jump on the trampoline for 3 hours straight like I could when I was only half this old.

In upcoming posts I’ll share more about what we could actually do, but today I’ll start by explaining why I think everyone should care about this in the first place.

There are lots of obvious benefits of healthy living:

  1. More energy. What you fuel your body with and how much you exercise affects deeply your ability to perform everyday tasks. When you sleep enough, eat nutritious and filling food, and exercise regularly, your body can run smoothly, like a brand new car. If you live with good habits consistently, it shouldn’t be necessary to drink caffeine or other energy boosters just to get through the day.
  2. Extended life span. Disease prevention and healthy diet are deeply linked. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most widespread diseases in America. In 2012, there were 29.1 million Americans with diabetes, and only about 1.25 million were diagnosed with type 1. Research suggests that type 2, while one of the leading causes of death in America, is also generally preventable. And that is just one example! For a more extensive article about this click here.
  3. Better scholastic performance. Countless studies havebeen done to examine what helps adolescents su
    cceed in the classroom, and the data on health-related performance is ver
    y consistent. Here’s a lovely graph just in case you don’t believe me.schoolperformance
  4. Obesity is growing faster than ever. You’ve probably been hearing this everywhere for the past few years: that obesity is becoming a huge national health issue. Public schools have new rules about school lunch food and what can be included in vending machines. But legislating small things like that can’t change the habits of millions of people. Again, look at the graph. The percentage of children who are obese has more than tripled since the 70s. WHAT. If this doesn’t concern you, this should probably concern you.child obesity table5. Emotional stability and overall happiness. I know I’m not the only person who gets really grumpy when they’re hungry. When your body has the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, everything runs more smoothly. You don’t have as many moodswings and emotional ups and downs. It’s easier to interact with other people at all times of the day.  

So, even if you don’t care about other peoples’ children being obese, you should at least want to feel good and prevent disease in your own life. I’m not saying it’s a simple thing, or that it’s easy, or that it’s even clear what you should do to be “healthy,” but I am saying that you should care at least a little bit. I’m not saying I’m good at this, I definitely have a long way to go. But for the reasons I just listed I’ve started to worry about it a lot more.

Stay tuned for my next post for a Comprehensive Guide to Overall Health (in other words: stuff I’ve noticed and things I actually believe based on what I’ve read and are still subject to change but hopefully might help you feel better and live healthier).