You are what you eat, these are words of wisdom from my wonderful mother. Its true in the most literal sense it can be true, without a person becoming an actual walking hamburger, or salad depending eating habits. I doubt this statement is revolutionary, in fact most of your parents probably also tried to hammer this phrase into your head as a child. But take into consideration how true this statement actually is. How much do we as people resemble the food that we chose and take in to fuel our bodies?
I am a people watcher. I am the person waiting in line behind you at the grocery store staring down you and your food choices. I am the person sitting in the park at lunch checking out what everyone else is eating. I am also the person carrying around too many books, a water bottle and a camera, and as a result of which I have forgotten my lunch.
As a watcher and part time judger of the check outline I have noticed the following: people who look happy and healthy have mostly whole meats, fruits and veggies in their baskets. Those people who have highly processed, boxed and sugary foods tend to be overweight and look cranky or unhappy. Granted this is a huge generalization based on years of observation, but I still find it to be true. Even while walking around the store I have noticed people who are in the produce or health foods sections are animated, friendly and smile more. People who are dwelling in the snack isle and the frozen foods sections are more off putting and significantly less friendly.
Most naturopathic and nutrition studies are based on how our bodies react and function based on the fuel we give it. I am not going to spend a lot of time reiterating the findings in these studies. It doesn’t take a geniuses or large sweeping studies to understand why this would be true. Our bodies are made to break down foods, whole foods, real foods, not chemicals. And if you look at boxed food there is probably going to be at least five ingredients that you can’t pronounce. If you are over the age of 10 and cannot pronounce or recognize the ingredients in your food put the box down and locate the produce section.
When you eat food pay attention to how your body reacts. When I started doing this a few years ago I realized some really astonishing things about myself. When I eat processed white flours such as French breads and white pastas, I get really bloated. When I eat large amounts of sugar I react to irritants more quickly without thinking, ie crankier. When I eat highly processed foods I get tired as opposed to eating all whole foods where I feel energized and happy. Did I discover some things I wasn’t thrilled about? Yes, I shouldn’t eat cow dairy anymore. But I have also discovered some really great things, goat cheese is incredible. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta’s actually taste better, baking using whole flours and honey instead of sugar are AMAZING! I lost some things in my diet but I also discovered some really great foods that I never would have tried had I not been forced to.
I am and defiantly was before what I ate. But thanks to paying attention to what I chose to eat, my moods don’t swing based on the foods I eat. My moods swing for other, more reasonable reasons and they are more manageable. I still watch people at the grocery store, I find it fascinating and I suggest you take up the habit. Maybe it will help you realize for yourself that you too are what you eat. And maybe its time for some changes.
For further information please see:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser