You Are What You Eat?
Being a teen myself, I understand the struggle of always eating right in a very chaotic and busy life. Between school and sports it’s hard to squeeze in those 3 nutritional meals a day. With such busy days eating 3 healthy meals a day is even more important.
When I was younger going grocery shopping with my parents was always an adventure. I would sneak snacks into the cart from my seat up front. My parents would usually notice right away, and make me but it back but I kept trying. Ever since I was young I’ve grown up in a household that values the importance in a healthy diet. My dad’s motto is “I won’t eat unhealthy if we don’t buy unhealthy food”, so we never do. Needless to say, my family and I don’t only eat kale salads and green smoothies (both can be very tasty), but we do our best to eat mostly healthy.
As growing young adults eating well is absolutely crucial, not only is your body developing your brain is too. The healthier the diet the healthier your entire body is. Despite popular belief, exercise is not the only important step to being or becoming fit. My dad, a personal trainer always says “Abs are made in the kitchen”. In order to achieve optimal health you not only have to exercise and sleep at least 8 hours a night, you have to eat right too. According to a study done by HealthyChildren.org adolescent males have to consume at least 2,800 calories a day, while adolescent females need at least 2,200. If the teen is active and playing sports he or she need even more (livestrong.com).
Knowing that a lot of my peers either don’t have time for breakfast or just don’t eat breakfast can takes me by surprise. Not eating breakfast in the morning can be detrimental because breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. Not eating from the time you eat dinner until the morning is the longest period of time the average teenager goes without eating making it very important to eat within the first two hours of waking up. Beginning your day with a healthy breakfast can kickstart your body metabolizing glucose, and blood sugar for the rest of the day. By not eating breakfast within two hours of waking your body’s metabolism doesn’t get kicked started and begins to produce stronger hunger hormones called ghrelin, these hormones can cause you to overeat later in the day, also causing irregular patterns in blood sugar levels. By eating breakfast it can also help engage focus and increase mood. Dr. Rimm a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public says “Over time, if your pancreas is constantly producing insulin to compensate for high levels of glucose, it will burn out and you’ll develop diabetes,” (consumerreports.org). Starting your day with breakfast not only helps your day to day health, but your life-long health as well.
Brain power can be directly correlated with health foods as well. Foods like spinach, eggs, nuts, etc… can not only benefit your body but your brain. Eating foods with vitamins and minerals have many life improving benefits. Vitamin C, the most popular vitamin can be found in fruits such as cantaloupes, citrus fruits, and kiwis have many lasting benefits. Vitamin C can also be found in broccoli, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Consuming Vitamin C can aid in production of neurotransmitters needed by the brain, improve mood, increase intelligence, help defend against free radical damage to the brain, caused by the brains high oxygen use, detoxify heavy metal buildup in the brain, and decrease excess glutamate in the brain, which contributes to depression and epilepsy (bebrainfit.com).
The largest struggle most teens face is finding the time to eat well. In our chaotic high school lives with incredibly demanding and trying classes, hours of homework after school, jobs, and extra-curricular activities it can be hard to find the time. Just taking a swing through the McDonald’s drive thru seems so easy and oh so tempting, it can be very hard to refrain. Quick fixes to this physical urge for junk, is start making eating healthy a priority, then making it a habit. If you find yourself getting hungry throughout the long school day bring snacks, like an apple or almonds. Just by laying off the fast foods but not swearing it off for good, can lead to a les frequent desire for junk food or even a complete stop to the craving. Eating well makes you feel good while junk does not, that enough can help with the idea of having a healthy diet.
I have long outgrown my sneaky grocery store diversion (for the most part), thankfully to growing up with parents who have always valued a mostly healthy lifestyle.