Sunday, 31 July 2011

Food Is Fuel: What Are You Running On?

Although a growing number of people nowadays are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of eating a healthy diet, with the saying "you are what you eat" now a common phrase that more of us are beginning to understand and appreciate, ask anyone to tell you the first thing that comes to their mind when you say the word food and you will get many different responses such as delicious, yummy, chocolate, steak, hungry, fattening, etc. When you look at all of these responses, they typically indicate a mindset toward food that the individual who gave the response has. In order maintain a healthy and efficiently working body, it is important that the right mindset is held. Having a "food is fuel" mindset is one that will help you on your way to creating healthy eating habits.

For some people eating a healthy diet conjures up images of unsubstantial meals consisting of lettuce and seeds, jokingly referred to as "rabbit food", whilst for others eating healthily means filling their body with a variety of colourful and natural foods that provide energy and goodness and protect against disease. 

If you go back to caveman times, the reason for people to go out and get food was always because they were hungry. Cavemen ate in order to survive. The people of these times were never obese and always physically active. Eating happened in this manner probably for two reasons: one was that they didn't have all of the great recipes, spices and cooking techniques to really give their food great flavour. The other I'm sure is because; hunting could have meant certain death especially in the instance where the hunter becomes the hunted. 
These days though, in many cultures, we are at the top of the food chain and somewhere along the way we found out that adding seasoning like salt and pepper to our meat really makes it taste good. And people who know how to add certain ingredients together can really make one great tasting meal. And let’s not forget the great taste of a good bar of chocolate…
There’s nothing wrong with having a delicious tasting meal or snack. It is one of the many benefits of living in a society that is filled with some very talented chefs! However, something has changed in the way that we eat. Instead of remembering the main purpose of food in our lives, we've turned eating into an art! No longer do we eat only when we are hungry and until we are satisfied to simply give our engines (bodies) fuel that it needs. We eat until we stuff ourselves, feeding our taste buds instead of fueling the engine. We fill our stomachs up to the very top until we are uncomfortable or miserable in our gluttony. This results in actually slowing the engine down and preventing it from working to its maximum potential. Doing these things on a continual basis causes us to gain weight, sometimes excessively, in the form of fat and this can bring with it many other, more complicated problems.

Today, obesity is a problem in a large number of countries particularly in the Western world. Since the 1980's the number of obese people in the UK has tripled and today almost 60% of the population are either fat or obese. Even more worrying are the growing numbers of obese children in our society, as the majority of these children will grow up to be obese adults. 

Obesity is caused, by an inactive lifestyle coupled with unhealthy eating patterns. More and more fast-food restaurants open and ready-made meals and unhealthy snacks fill our supermarket shelves as our society rapidly grows in size, waist size.
As a large number of people are experiencing today, being overweight brings many problems, not only health problems but also emotional issues. Overweight people are at a much higher risk of suffering some form of illness at some point in their life, usually a lot sooner than they expect. Health problems can range from backache, shortness of breath, type-II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more recently studies have linked a poor diet to certain forms of cancer.

Not only this but many overweight people, children in particular, may be teased and bullied, which could lead to depression and low self-esteem. To make themselves feel better, they will turn to food for comfort and thus be stuck in a vicious cycle.

Even though a lot of people who do not eat healthily are not fat, they would still experience other effects of eating a poor diet. This could include rotting teeth from eating too many sugary sweets and drinks, mood swings, headaches, tiredness and lethargy, constipation, poor concentration, dull hair, skin and nails, osteoporosis, insomnia, and heart disease due to high levels of cholesterol in the blood amongst others.
 Heart disease today is the most common single cause of death in our society. Many of these deaths could be prevented solely by a change of diet and an increase in exercise.

The way we should fuel our bodies can be related in some ways to fueling a car. You put petrol in it to run, oil to lubricate engine parts and other things for optimal performance. You don't overfill the tank or use harmful substances. Now consider your body, and all of the systems or parts within it, cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, and respiratory.  What fuel do these systems need to run efficiently and effectively? Is how you are fueling, and the fuel you're using, in your body's engine allowing for the same optimal performance? 
If you are looking to lose weight for example, the number one factor is controlling your eating habits. Start looking at why you eat, what you eat. Determine your reason for the meals you choose and when you are eating. 

Food should be enjoyed. Great tasting food is one of the blessings in life. However, food has always been fuel for the body. Not something to be eaten solely based on taste or due to boredom. As the saying goes, "everything in moderation." 

When you start applying the "food is fuel" mindset you'll find that your eating habits will change. You won't eat as much and you won't eat the same kinds of food. You'll also find that when you improve on the fuel you consume your body's performance, including your health, stamina and energy levels will improve as well. 

Begin applying this and watch as healthy eating habits become your new way of life.

1 comment:

  1. We are what we eat ... and on Friday I ate crap and didn't get enough sleep. The result? I ran badly and felt crap when I ran my Saturday 20. So here is another one for you to work on ... "To know and not to do is not to know".