I believe many of us appreciate the need for healthy eating, but beyond the conventional reasons, are we actually aware of the benefits of eating clean? There are times when healthy eating is just a means to an end. We use it to shed some extra pounds and achieve our desired physique. Once we achieve that goal, however, we often throw it aside until its time for us to use it again.
Healthy eating is more than that. It should not be something we commit to seasonally. Instead, healthy eating involves a lifestyle change. However, that is only possible when we are convinced that the benefits of healthy eating are worth the extra effort to seek out clean food and resist the temptation of, say, fried chicken and chips. Therefore, I am going to offer a key reason for the importance of healthy eating, and that is the effects of food on our psychological moreso than on our physical state.
‘You are what you eat.’ This statement could not be more true as the food we consume not only affects our physical health, but also our mental well-being. Besides the brain, our gut has a vital role in addressing our mental state and the two systems are connected via the vagus nerve which is the primary route our gut bacteria uses to transmit information to the brain. Studies have shown that an unhealthy diet (i.e high in sugar and processed foods) leads to a higher risk of depression. Sugar can bring about fluctuations in our blood sugar level and that can lead to mood swings. It also promotes chronic inflammation which can potentially disrupt the normal functioning of our immune system, bringing greater risk of depression. There are also foods that help improve our mood and that is why many of us are addicted to them, such as coffee and dark chocolate which are mood boosting and fights depression and anxiety issues respectively.
Some of us may believe that suffering depression and anxiety is a distant concern. But more often than not, these disorders hit us when we least expect them. At that point, it would be a great struggle to fight them off, especially if we are unprepared. Indeed, prevention is better than cure, so why put ourselves through that pain when we have the means to avoid it?
When we focus on what’s beyond our appearance (body image) and, instead, on our mental and physical health, eating clean becomes less of a chore and more of a choice. Picking the healthier options becomes less of a debate and more of an unconscious effort. Of course, eating healthy does not mean that we are depriving ourselves of delicious food. In fact, healthy food can be just as delicious! The choice is up to us, whether we are willing to make that change in our lives. When we eventually do, healthy eating will be more rewarding than we could ever imagine it to be!