Processed food is addicting. The combination of sugar, fat, and salt is purposefully used to keep customers coming back for more. While watching one of those weight loss shows that I’m addicted to, I heard one of the contestants say, “Kicking an addiction to food is harder than other addictions, an alcoholic can avoid alcohol, but you HAVE to eat everyday.” Now, I’ve never been addicted to food or alcohol, but what she’s saying makes perfect sense. Drug addicts and alcoholics are told to stay away from any drug or alcohol, but what about food addicts, they HAVE to eat!?!
Last week, a friend of mine, who often utilizes fast food to accommodate her busy schedule, went for a salad instead of a less healthy option and all she had to say about it was, “It had so much flavor, it tasted so great!” She thought that by going for the healthier option she would be sacrificing flavor, but she was pleasantly surprised when she was wrong! She got a salad filled with veggies, fruit, strips of chicken, and lots of flavor.
If eating healthy meant eating bland food, then I would be in trouble. I love healthy food because of the flavors and textures I experience during a good meal. I love food as much as anybody, probably a lot more than the average person, so I can understand the desire to want to eat constantly, the thoughts and yearnings that won’t go away. Fortunately, unlike an addiction to drugs or some other substance, there is a healthy way to eat and there are multiple benefits to eating really tasty food.
There have been times in my life where I have thought about food constantly, and those are usually the times when I have deprived myself to lose weight. This is where a lot of people fall off the bandwagon and refuse to get back on, dieting is just way too stressful. I agree, dieting is stupid. Going on a diet insinuates that you plan on getting back off of it at some point, but making healthy change to your diet is a lifetime affair. It’s about falling in love with the flavors and textures of foods that healthy and beneficial to your body….like vegetables!
I admit, I often have a hard time eating all of my veggies. I always eat my meat first and sometimes I just pass my veggies off to my husband because I’m too full. Fortunately, I seemed to have kicked that habit in the last few weeks. The earth is pouring forth beautiful vegetables that I just can’t pass up. I want more, more, more FLAVOR and my body wants more, more, more NUTRIENTS. Fortunately, with all of the great flavor I’m getting from vegetables, I am also getting a lot of really great nutrients.
Eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables of various colors and textures ensures that you are getting a variety of vital nutrients that you just can’t live without.
Red fruits and vegetables bring us many nutrients that help us combat high blood pressure, prostate cancer, reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), fend off free radicals (cancer causing), and help with arthritis. All that from cherries, tomatoes, radishes, apples, raspberries, blood oranges?? Well, you don’t have to tell me twice. Have I mentioned that I’m addicted to tomatoes?
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, squash, apricots, cantaloupe, and yellow peppers, to name a few, contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, potassium, lycopene, and vitamin C. We know vitamin C aids the immune system, but these nutrients also help with collagen formation (nice, smooth skin), joint health, reducing LDL cholesterol and the risk of prostate cancer as well. These nutrients also aid magnesium and calcium in creating strong bones.
Green fruits and vegetables are probably the most important. Not only do green fruits and veggies have lots of fiber and a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause a major insulin spike, but they also contain chlorophyll , lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The fiber aids in digestion and regularity, the other nutrients also encourage retinal health and vision, decrease the risk of cancer, and they also lower LDL cholesterol levels. These vegetables are very filling, you don’t need to count on things like bread, rice and pasta as fillers. Pound for pound, broccoli and spinach are just as cheap as bread. I don’t know about you, but I can eat 6 pieces of bread without a problem, but getting through 2 cups of broccoli can be difficult to do without getting too full!
Blue and purple fruits and veggies, like blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage and eggplant are full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, but that’s not all they do. In addition to many of the traits like lower cholesterol and retinal health, purple and blue fruits and veggies fight inflammation, which as we’ve talked about before, is breeding ground for various other diseases, like cancer. These foods are strong cancer fighters, but they also aid in the absorption of calcium, as well as other nutrients.
White fruits and veggies like mushrooms, cauliflower, turnips and scallops aren’t nearly as boring as the color of their exterior. In addition to do many of the same benefits listed with previous vegetables and fruits, these also help balance hormone levels, so feed them to your teenagers!
This week at the grocery store, after you’ve sent your teen to find all of the parsnips, turnips, and white peaches he can find, go and start choosing vegetables from all colors of the rainbow. If you’re not sure what something is, find the name, pick it up and put it in your cart, when you get home find a recipe to use it in, and consider yourself an adventurous chef. There are so many fruits and vegetables out there, don’t limit yourself to just the stuff you know and what you THINK you and your kids like. Your taste buds change throughout the years, cook something in a different way and give it another try. Take our preschooler and do a lesson about colors. Take your kindergartener and do a lesson on the alphabet (find a fruit or veggie that begins with every letter of their name). Do whatever you want, just make sure you spend some time in the produce section!