|Define yourself as a healthy eater|
Nutrition impacts so many aspects of health. What we eat deserves the greatest of care and attention the whole year, not just on one designated month of the year. What is it going to take to finally get Americans moving in the right direction to make healthy food decisions most of the time?
Eating healthy is not an all or nothing proposition and perhaps dispelling this myth is the first place to start. Let's embrace food for its nourishing properties and celebrate its flavors, textures and aromas for what they are, delicious! Eating healthfully does not mean that you can never eat pepperoni pizza (or cake or whatever your favorite food might be). In fact, including your less healthy favorite foods in your diet from time to time may be helpful in actually adopting a healthier diet overall.
This brings me to my next point; our skewed taste perception. Many of the foods that are sold in grocery stores and restaurants in America are loaded with fat, sugar and salt. Our tastes veer naturally toward these compounds in foods, but what we taste most often are not the naturally occurring elements in foods, rather the concocted flavors created by food engineers. The politics behind this is enmeshed in our agricultural system (farm subsidies), and food industry (food lobbies) and presents a huge hurdle for Americans to jump over in order to make healthy eating easier. I don't have a clear solution for this problem, other than to encourage Americans to go back to what is natural (unfortunately, the definition of natural is meaningless on food packages) and naked, food in its natural state prepared with ingredients that were not created in a lab. There is hope that we can regain our taste for real food. Taste perception is not static, it changes over time. I can attest to this myself as I have worked to wean my taste away from sweet and salty foods. I can now barely tolerate these flavors in most manufactured foods. I would much rather add my own sweetness to oatmeal with raisins than eat sweetened packaged oatmeal and I notice how salty most foods taste in restaurants.
Nutrition should be on our mind every day as we choose what we eat. The nutritious foods that we eat are also delicious, from the whole wheat cinnamon toast with butter and a full bowl of berries that I ate for breakfast this morning; the homemade pea soup I'm having for lunch with an over-sized red delicious apple; to the red beans and brown rice, pecan cornbread (from a package with ingredients that are foods, not chemicals) and roasted asparagus that I am making for dinner tonight.
Upon learning that I was a dietitian, a gentleman once commented that he felt sorry for my husband. I replied back, "My husband is the luckiest man in the world. He gets to eat the most delicious and nutritious food!" Our perception of healthy foods should stress how wonderfully delicious they truly are so that we celebrate National Nutrition Month all year long!