"I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’m untouchable." Or… that’s what some of us tend to think.
Recently, I had a doctor’s appointment. I like to think I’m pretty healthy. I track what I eat and keep under a calorie amount, I work out four times a week, and I live a pretty positive lifestyle. So, imagine my surprise when I learn that my blood pressure has jumped up in the past few years.
Eat less salt, lose some weight, and add more vegetables into your diet.
That’s what I was told. I hardly feel like I’m old enough to be considered an adult, and here I am worrying about blood pressure. It really woke me up. Eating healthy isn’t just important for the elder demographics. It’s important for me, and it’s important for you.
There are a million and one reasons why it’s important that humans of all ages eat healthy. Food pyramids aren’t a joke, and neither were Michelle Obama’s initiatives to get America healthy. But despite the clear reasons for why we should, and the innumerable resources for how we should, many of us still opt not to eat healthy.
Eating healthy isn’t convenient. I know this. But your heart doesn’t care what’s convenient, and it’s time we all took a page out of the ol’ science book. If you throw convenience out the window and focus on the benefits of what spending a little time in the kitchen with a grocery bag full of healthy whole foods, I think you’ll start to agree with your heart.
Other than… well… health, what are the benefits of having a healthy diet? Here are a few benefits to healthy eating that you might find endearing if you’re anything like me:
You’ll be more productive.
The cheap gas at the pump is tempting, but we all know that the higher-octane fuel is higher performance and better for the car, right? Think of food the same way. Though fruits and vegetables often aren’t expensive, we put them aside in favor of more tasty and fun foods like fruit snacks and chocolate chip cookies. However, when we put the “high octane” foods into our bodies, they run more efficiently. Easy in, easy out. Studies show that an unhealthy diet can cause you to lose up to 66% of your productivity. Ouch.
You’ll spend less money.
The idea that eating healthy is an expensive endeavor is a myth. Produce is some of the cheapest food you can get at the grocery store, and it’s the perfect fuel for our bodies. Sure, most healthy diets also include meat, which is the most expensive, but meat is ideally consumed in moderation. Get your protein needs from plant sources like legumes, beans, and soy, and stock up on produce and healthy grains, and then add in some meat (or vitamin b12 supplements if you’re vegan/vegetarian), and you can eat three square meals a day on a budget. Plus, your life insurance will cost less. So that’s… a benefit. I guess. Does anybody have life insurance in their 20s? Hm.
You’ll feel better.
It’s almost like our food helps regulate our hormones. Crazy, right? Sarcasm aside, eating right keeps your mood regulated and helps you stay more upbeat. This is because when we eat right, we keep our blood sugar down and our vitamins and minerals up. This lessens our risk of depression and increases our feelings of well-being, our focus, and keeps our stress levels down by keeping the stress hormone cortisol at bay. Phew.
Though healthy eating does help with mood, it is not a substitute for antidepressants. Please consult with your doctor about your medication before ever stopping it yourself.
Okay. We’ve scratched the surface of why we all should eat healthy and have a well-rounded diet. There are tons of other reasons why healthy eating is vital to our lives, not the least of which is… our lives. Healthy diets keep us alive longer and make our lives better along the way. So, make those changes in your life and adopt healthier habits around your eating. Some changes you might want to consider include:
Limiting sweets and processed foods to take up only 20% of your diet (at most).
Adding more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Eating a variety of colors of produce. Color corresponds to different vitamins and minerals, so a variety will make sure you cover your bases.
Drinking lots of water instead of other drinks.
Knowing how many calories you should be eating a day and be mindful not to exceed that number.
The effort to make the changes will pay off exponentially. Now, go treat yourself to some lettuce and go wild!