As the new year kicks off, Spotlight on Walden decided to ask Dr. Grace Lasker and Dr. Jody Early, two Walden University School of Health Sciences faculty members, to be our guest bloggers and talk about eating right and staying healthy for National Staying Healthy Month.
Dr. Lasker is a certified nutritionist and a contributing faculty member in Walden’s College of Health Sciences and College of Undergraduate Studies. She is also a tenured professor in the Academic Sciences program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Dr. Early is a certified health education specialist and program director of undergraduate programs in the College of Health Sciences. She’s also a reformed “diet addict” who seeks to promote healthy eating and behavior change. Both are passionate about teaching others about the role nutrition plays in their overall health.
A new year, another diet? According to a recent report by MSNBC, weight loss is the No. 1 New Year’s resolution for Americans in 2013. However, statistics show that only 8% will achieve their goal by the end of the year. With so many diets and weight loss products flooding the airwaves, TV, and Internet, how do you choose? And do diets even work? A recent study concluded that obese individuals placed on a special diet gained back an average of 11 pounds after stopping the diet and focusing on weight maintenance, and they reported feeling hungry and even more preoccupied with food than before the diet. In fact, the latest neuroscience research reports that New Year’s resolutions are exactly the wrong way to change behavior. So now what? The answer comes back to one simple idea: know how your body works and what it wants.
The human body is quite simple in its complexity. Everything works together in a harmonious way, down to the cells that make up our bodies. If you can understand what these cells want, you can understand why eating the right food, in the right balance, is so important. It doesn’t take a PhD in cellular biology or nutrition to understand this, either. It just takes understanding a few basic concepts.
Here’s something to consider: Did you know that every single molecule in your body has come from the food you eat and the beverages you drink? In fact, it is safe to say that you ARE the food you eat—100% of you! So, the question is, are you a “fast-food human” or a “healthy food human?” What you eat determines who you are, from how well you can think and remember things to how healthy you are and how well you can recover from illness. And very little of what you eat, molecularly, leaves your body. You lose some through exhaling, some through sweating, and still some more through natural body processes. But everything else stays in, including all the chemicals that are in your food. So what will you choose: do you want to be made up of healthy foods that complement your own body positively or do you want to be made up of additives, dyes, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and other nonfood items found in junk, fast, frozen, and pre-made foods? Hopefully you’ve chosen the former. So how do you minimize the consumption of bad foods and increase your consumption of healthy foods? You do that by considering tip #2…
Since you are made up of cells, and your cells know what they want and in what ratios, eating whole foods becomes the most important thing you can do because those foods are made up of cells, too. If you have to read a long list of ingredients on the back of a box or can, it likely isn’t something natural and has additives and preservatives. Your food should be just like you—whole! That means staying away from processed foods that are bits and pieces of “food” mashed together to form something that tastes good. That also means choosing fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meat—yes, a little meat is OK— because they are whole. The contents of that whole food, and all the cells within it, will have the exact ratio of vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates that your cells want and need to be healthy. But how do we eat whole foods in today’s modern society when so many foods are mashed-up bits and pieces of food-like substances? You do it by remembering tip #3…
Did you know that in 1906 when flour bleaching became more widespread that the FDA banned it from use? A mere six years later the FDA changed its stance because Dr. Nelson, new director of the FDA in 1912, unbelievingly said, “It is wholly unscientific to state that a well-fed body is more able to resist disease than a poorly fed body. My overall opinion is that there hasn’t been enough experimentation to prove that dietary deficiencies make one susceptible to disease.” Well, we sure know that’s not true! And in regard to white flour, many studies since have confirmed that the bleaching process results in byproducts that are toxic to humans. In fact, many processed foods have been the target of research that shows there are hidden dangers in these foods that can impact human health. Scary things abound, such as the fast-food hamburger that didn’t decay after being kept on a shelf for 12 years and another famous fast-food chain’s “taco beef filling” that is only 36% meat. Food just isn’t food anymore.
So how should we eat? Studies have shown that the Mediterranean way of eating has a number of health benefits. Foods such as olives and olive oil, fresh fish, rich spices, roasted vegetables, nuts, beans, and red wine are all amazingly healthy foods. The foods readily available in the Mediterranean region are considered among the healthiest in the world. Eating with these foods in mind has been shown in research studies to reduce the risk of diabetes, minimize cardiovascular issues, reduce blood sugar, and promote healthy weight levels. That simplifies this eating process significantly, don’t you think?
Stay tuned for more tips for staying healthy and eating right in Part 2 of “We Interrupt This Diet for an Important Message: Weighty Tips for 2013.”