“Would you like fries with that?” is a common question when ordering fast food. This question is coined by McDonald’s. You may have noticed there are plenty of fast food restaurants to choose from here in the U.S. Maybe you’ve gained a few extra pounds or needed to purchase bigger pants. It’s very easy to gain weight if you don’t make good choices. The word “healthy” is a buzzword nowadays as people have varying opinions about what it means to be healthy. Whether it’s to count your calories, to go vegan or vegetarian, purchase organic or non-GMO, eat a paleo diet, and the list goes on. While you know that you shouldn’t eat fast food every day, it is helpful to think through eating and health, so that you’re not just obsessing about weight.
Food can be fuel
Like gas is to a car, so is food to the body. What we eat and drink can fuel our metabolism and either slow it down or accelerate it and help it function the way it’s supposed to. If we put diesel in a car instead of gas, it won’t run. Similarly, if we eat processed foods and drinks that are high in sugar and lots of preservatives our body may still run, but not as easily. Read the labels on your food. If there are things in the ingredient list you or your American friend can’t pronounce, it’s best to put it back on the shelf. If you’re able to, shop at a farmer’s market, a place where you can purchase local produce and meat. Food should energize you and give you a boost.
Eat the rainbow
A natural question to ask is, well what kinds of food do I eat? Eat the rainbow. Eat a variety of colors, of fruits and vegetables. As well as a variety of legumes, nuts, grains, meat if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, fish if you’re pescatarian. Produce and good meat carries essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. If you like to eat eggs, throw some greenery in there like kale, arugula, spinach or peppers and onions. Probiotic foods and drinks like yogurt, kefir and fermented vegetables are also helpful to boost the immune system. Take inventory of what you eat in one day and in one week – do you notice that your food is all the same color and type or is it varied?
Eat in moderation
While I’m not a dietician, I’ve been told I’m a “foodie”; I enjoy food and love eating and exploring the foods of different ethnicities and countries. I only eat until I’m full, not stuffed to the brim. I love chocolate and ice cream, but you won’t find me eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Share your culture with other internationals and Americans through food. Friendships can be formed over a good meal, so instead of eating fast food and eating out, slow down and cook together with friends. Remember that eating is not bad, just eat in moderation.
Health is also exercise and rest
You don’t have to be a marathon runner to be healthy and exercise. Are you walking around campus or taking the bus all the time? Exercising can produce a happy hormone called endorphin which gives you energy. It’s also important to rest. We know grades are important but a good night’s sleep will help your brain to function better. Let yourself take a nap if you need one.
Learn how to treat yourself. Make good decisions, and therefore form good habits with food. Eat healthy, one bite and meal a time.