I’ll admit that when I was younger I didn’t care much about eating healthy. I was always skinny, and as I grew up I was complimented on my small figure. This was in spite of my horrendous eating habits; I would come home from school and indulge in whatever snacks I wanted. On the worst days, I would eat ice cream, popcorn, and chips. I had juice or soda with my meals and in between them. Suffice it to say that I didn’t think much about what I put into my body.
What I grew up learning to be healthy as a child, I now know not to be. In elementary school, we studied the food pyramid extensively, and it is now disregarded as a standard for healthy eating. I grew up thinking that I should drink milk to be healthy, as it is a source of calcium. Now I know that milk doesn’t have that much calcium, and doesn’t have many nutritional benefits. I know that eating spinach is a much better and healthier option for getting calcium.
There is currently much debate about whether adult humans should even drink milk at all. Many argue that milk provides us with essential nutrients, and others argue that human bodies were not made to digest milk. I have read reputable sources claim that both sides are true, and I am left unsure whether I should or shouldn’t drink milk.
My mother says I should. When I was growing up, she watched the commercials that said drinking three glasses of milk every day was healthy. Olympians on those “Got Milk” commercials say I should, and even seem to attribute their strength to drinking milk. My friends and coworkers say I shouldn’t drink milk, and I read articles online that take their side.
I never liked milk that much to begin with, so for me this is not a big deal. I get plenty of calcium, and though I don’t drink more than a few cups of milk per week, I am fine with drinking milk when I have cereal or hot chocolate.
More concerning to me is the aspect of sugar. As I mentioned before, I never paid much attention to how much sugar I consumed. I didn’t think it was a big deal. As an adult, however, I am working on maintaining a healthy body. While I refuse to go on any type of eccentric diet, I am now more aware of what makes up a healthy, daily diet. I know that people are supposed to eat, on average, 26 grams of sugar or less.
When I found this out, I was shocked. The label of the yogurt I was eating contained 10 grams of sugar, almost half of my daily intake in just one part of my breakfast food. I then checked the Vitamin Water I was drinking to find out that it contained 28 grams of sugar. I had been drinking it to be healthy, but one little bottle contained more sugar than I should consume in an entire day.
It’s been months since I made that discovery, and I still struggle every day to keep my sugar intake at a healthy level; it feels like I’m choosing my meals from a candy store. Of course, this is not just a matter about me wanting to be healthy, it’s a matter of there not being healthy food available to me. Though I cook my own food a lot of the time, as a working adult I don’t always have time to cook my own meals. Too often, this leaves me to opt for a less healthy option than I would prefer.
I have talked to my friends about this. Some who have studied nutrition at college, some who are dedicated to maintaining their health by eating right and working out. None of them have a good solution to this problem other than making your own food and trying to limit dessert.
It’s appalling to me that being healthy is more than just a question of wanting to be healthy and making an effort to be. The major issue here is the food available at grocery stores and restaurants have too much sugar, salt, cholesterol and are not proportionally sized.
I have found that I am not the only one who struggles with this. In addition to the people in my life who seem to be just as perplexed as I am, there is a problem within and beyond my country. Bradley University reports that there is a nationwide epidemic of obesity in America, with a rate of over 30 percent.
In addition to that, the health effects extend beyond physical consequences. Studies show that consuming an excess of sugar also has detrimental impacts on your mental health. The studies have found that too much sugar in your diet can lead to depression, which can negatively impact all areas of your life.
Of course, the problems with an unhealthy diet extend far beyond sugar and dairy. How we eat is a big part of how we take care of ourselves. It’s hard to do that when the options available to us are largely unhealthy and can lead to so many health consequences. I will keep doing my part to research and implement my findings in my lifestyle. I’ll read nutrition labels, cook for myself, and make well-informed decisions about what I eat.
Photo is from pxhere Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Geo Sique is a writer from Boise, ID with a bachelor’s’ degrees in Communication and French and a background in journalism. When she’s not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.
Website: Georgette Siqueiros