Motivation: Five Reasons to Eat Healthy Food (And Five Ways to Start Actually Doing It)
Eating well is a fundamental part of living well. In some ways, our culture seems to be losing touch with this connection, and healthy eating habits have started to seem secondary or peripheral to a well-lived life. We’ve come to view healthy eating as a kind of chore, or a challenge we need to actively overcome. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be treated like a New Year’s resolution or a depressing obstacle standing between where we are and where we want to be. Instead, healthy eating habits should be integral to the fabric of our daily lives. Eating well should be an enjoyable, steady part of our day, and selecting healthy food should feel as natural as safe driving or regular sleeping habits.
Unfortunately, reaching a state of equilibrium and a balanced, dispassionate relationship with food means finding a way to tune out the constant barrage of cultural pressure in the opposite direction. As it happens, in our modern world we’re subjected to endless cultural messages telling us to eat the wrong things and then punish ourselves for doing so. Healthy eating means finding a middle ground between these extremes and staying there. And this means learning to create and follow our own path and tune out both the diet gurus and the cheeseburger ads that try to push us in one direction or the other.
Think about these five things as you develop healthy eating habits and search for a balanced relationship with food.
Five Reasons to Eat Healthy
1.When You’re Eating Well, Your Body Feels Lighter, Stronger, and Cleaner
Healthy eating habits start paying off immediately. Within the first hour after you decide to order a salad instead of a cheeseburger, you may start to notice how your body responds to this small act of nourishment and respect. A body that is well fed and well treated simply feels better. It also smells better, makes fewer unwanted noises, is easier to carry around, is stronger and tighter, and is more pleasant to touch. Healthy eating leads to small incremental changes that add up, like sharper senses, smoother skin, and nicer smells. If you feel good an hour after eating that salad, imagine how great you’d feel if you did this every day.
2. When You’re Eating Well, You Can Do More
Along with feeling better and looking better, eating well allows us to get more out of the things we do with our bodies. A little extra energy goes a long way. Healthy eating and working out tend to have a spiral effect; the more we can do, the more we want to do. And as we get moving and start eating well, these habits build and reinforce our growing momentum.
3. When You’re Eating Well, You’re Saving Money and You Don’t Get Sick as Often
Depending on where you shop for healthy food, this may not seem to be the case at first. You may be shelling out a few more cents for fresh organic produce than you were for processed snack foods. But if you pay attention to your overall cash flow, you’ll start noticing how this expense is made up in other ways. Most important, healthy eating lowers your medical costs. You’ll have fewer colds and sick days, fewer weight-related problems, and an easier time shopping for clothes. Plus you’ll sleep better, wake up easier, have a more positive outlook and generally get more out of life.
4. When You’re Eating Well, You’re Doing More for the World Around You
A single cheeseburger comes at an enormous social and environmental cost. The fuel and chemicals required to raise the grain, harvest it, process it, carry it to the cow, dose the cow with hormones and antibiotics, then slaughter the cow, butcher it and transport it your store all add up to an environmental footprint that’s quite staggering compared to the footprint required to grow a similar serving of plant-based foods. Healthy eating means reducing your burden on the planet.
5. When You’re Eating Well, You (Surprise) Don’t Miss The Old Way
Many of us are reluctant to shift to healthy eating habits because we’re afraid of missing out on a given opportunity for a gooey, delicious, greasy moment of pleasure. We’re ingrained with the idea that we might regret the decision later and walk around regretting it for the rest of the day. Or worse, that we might be left feeling unsatisfied and still hungry. This fear is unfounded. Always.
Simply spooning a smaller portion onto your plate can remove an enormous number of unhealthy calories from your day, and we promise that you won’t miss those calories. And if you continue doing this for weeks that turn into years, you won’t look back. Nobody misses those extra pounds once they’re gone, and an hour after leaving the restaurant, nobody regrets the decision to choose a salad over a cheeseburger. For some reason we all think we will, but that just doesn’t happen. Try it and see for yourself.
Five Ways to Actually Start Doing It
1. Just give healthy eating a try one time. Experiment with eating well and ignore the idea of commitments, investments, or resolutions. Just choose a salad instead of a cheeseburger once, and think about the way you feel a few minutes after eating it. If you like the feeling (and you probably will), try it again the next time.
2. Think of healthy eating as an act of respect, nourishment, and maintenance for your body. Don’t think of it as punishment or deprivation.
3. Eat healthy by choosing healthy foods that you like. If you hate kale, don’t make yourself eat kale. See item 2 above. But if you love blueberries, honey, grilled chicken, fresh spinach, or warm summer tomatoes right from the garden, indulge in these things. Eat as much of them as you want. Let healthy eating make you happy.
4. Make healthy eating easy for yourself. If you know you’re about to head to a party where unhealthy foods will be served, don’t go in hungry. Eat an apple or a chicken sandwich beforehand.
5. Relax. Small lapses in healthy eating habits aren’t the end of the world. Just remember rule number 1, and think about how your body feels after you eat a cheeseburger, a fresh carrot, a fruit smoothie, or an entire sleeve of cookies. Remember that feeling the next time you face the same decision.