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Food Can Make Us Strong

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I’d like to share a few thoughts on one of trickier health subjects – food.

Food is, at its core, emotional. It’s tied to all kinds of emotions. Emotions can be positive, happy, warm and fuzzy. But they can also be negative, sad, guilt-ridden and bring about compulsive behavior. The science on nutrition is very difficult, because it has so many factors and variables involved. Not to mention, it’s a very popular topic, and just one new study can launch a myriad of commentary from wellness blogs to news publications, and everything in between. What gets lost in the mix is that the new study is just that – one new study – but sometimes it is treated like the latest, broadly accepted scientific opinion. Remember when carbs were good for you… and then they weren’t… and then they were good again?

With so many different types of dietary models: Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, etc., it can be hard to figure out what’s right for you. There are merits behind so many of them, but the way we think about what we eat is what’s most critical.

Too often we think of food in black and white – as bad for you (but delicious and wonderful) and good for you (but so unappetizing).  A few weeks ago, I enjoyed opportunity to discuss nutrition with a patient in the office. Her name is Christa Bennett, and something she said really struck a chord with me.  She was telling me that she doesn’t talk about food with her children in terms of good or bad. Instead she frames it like this: “is it strong food or weak food?” It made me think – will this food make me strong or make me weak. I really liked it.

When we think of food in terms of good or bad, we are placing an emotional value on it. This isn’t always a healthy thing for our bodies, our minds, or our hearts. Let’s take a note from Christa. As we sit down to our next meal, consider what’s on the plate. “Will this make me strong? Will it make me weak?”

Try to incorporate a few of these foods and tips into your meal prep routine:
  • Fish or poultry three or more times per week (Take a look to the right, I made this traditional chinese dish with fish instead of pork)
  • Whole grains and fruits daily
  • Vegetables – lots and lots of vegetables
  • Healthy fats, like olive oil
  • Pair proteins with fats
  • Design meals that feature a variety of rich, vibrant colors

We want to eat better so we can feel better, and we want to eat food that tastes good. But we can do without the calorie counting, countless hours preparing in the kitchen, and ultimately feeling deprived and hungry. With a little bit of will power and some slight adjustments to how we think about food, we can feel strong and fuel our bodies right. I have been getting ready for a new jiu-jitsu belt test lately and eating a lot of strong foods because I want to feel strong. And thanks to Christa, I do. I hope you do too! Have questions about a healthier diet? Email me at [email protected]