You Are What You Eat

Try an experiment. Go to your refrigerator and your pantry, and take a quick inventory of what food you have in there. Is your fridge full of fresh fruits and veggies, or does it contain cheeses, dairy, meats and cooked mac ‘n cheese?   How about your pantry – is it full of simple carbs and treats, or raw nuts, whole grains, and the like? Whether you see healthy food or not – the old saying is true – you are what you eat.

I recently visited a  cousin who has severe diabetes. We were staying there for a week and as I spent time cooking meals with them, I became aware of the food they stocked. The pantry was full of sugary cereals, chocolate chips, white flour, canned beans, crackers, cookies and other baked foods. The fridge had lots of dairy, meats, cooked pasta, cheesecake and such.

It’s easy to see the connection when we look at other people’s lifestyles, but a bit harder when it’s our own.  That’s why you want to do a surprise check-in on your own kitchen. Do it now, using these simple steps.

  1. Grade all the items you see, in order of how healthy and slimming (one in the same) each item is. Grade each item as A, B, C or D. For instance, organic range-free eggs get an A, and non-organic eggs might be a B.  You don’t need to list the actual food, just it’s grade – to keep it easy.
  2. This grading method won’t be purely scientific, but items that are unprocessed and organic would often get an A, unless they’re sweets or loaded with fat or carbs.
  3. Items that are highly processed, full of high  fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, and the like would be a D.
  4. The fridge should contain at least 50% veggies and fruits, about 15% dairy or soy products, and 25% lean proteins, including eggs and some soy. The remaining 10% could be snacks and alcohol. As much of these products should be organic, naturally grown, and antibiotic-free.
  5. The pantry should contain 30% nuts, dry lentils, beans and other proteins; 30% sprouted or ancient grains, whole grains and brown rice. Another 30% could be canned tomatoes, tuna and other low-processed staples for cooking. The final 10% could be snacks, coffee & tea.

Give yourself a final grade of A, B, C or D,  being as honest as you can.  It’s your health and the first step toward better health is awareness.  The next time you shop, make a list of the items noted in steps 4 and 5, and do your best to replace a few of your lower grade items with an A-level item.

You don’t have to make massive changes overnight. When I decided to change my eating habits, I started with a few organic items. The mac ‘n cheese and other processed foods stayed there for at least six months, and I still allow myself to have them a few times a year.

Anyway, if you do this test for yourself once a month for the first year you’ll be able to slowly improve upon the foods you eat and nutrient-rich foods will serve you well. Meanwhile, if you already scored well, congrats! In either case, eating healthfully is a lifetime habit, so remaining aware will serve you in your weight loss or maintenance!

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