Saturday, August 15, 2009

Food as your friend?

Food as your friend - an alternative view on eating.
The other day I was discussing with a friend/client her take on meeting the prescribed numbers for carbohydrate intake during the day. She had quasi-jokingly asked if eating a scoop of ice cream after her workout would be okay, since, afterall, ice cream is made up of carbs and a bit of protein. (I use the 'quasi' prefix, since although this was said clearly just to see the look on my face as my blood pressure rose and steam began to come from my ears, I have no doubt that had I said "yes," this story might have been written on my laptop while sitting at Dairy Queen!) My answer to this was something to the effect of her needing to change her thinking about food. I said that food is not just to be mindlessly ingested, bearing only the basic numbers on the label in mind. I explained that food should be a "tool" or, to use the ever-popular analogy of the race car, "fuel." I told said friend that before eating something just because its carb count was within the allowable realm, she should consider the value of it to the body. Sure, an ice cream cone sounds great to the taste buds, but would your body get anything of any use value from it? A fat-storing spike in blood sugar levels and the subsequent insulin res ponce would be about all. However, if a more complex form of carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, brown rice, or some green vegetables were substituted, the body would get the benefits of some useful vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber for digestive health, and maybe even some of the reported cholesterol-lowering benefits of whole grains so proudly touted by the oatmeal industry. This whole idea of thinking of food as a tool to give the body what it needs came to me a few years ago while helping my mother on a landscape job. I had been carrying bags of mulch around for about 4 hours, and in doing so had worked up quite an appetite. (Now, at this point in my life, I was on a overly restrictive diet and became somewhat calorie-phobic, as I am sure some readers can relate to.) I had spent the last 1/2 hour or so thinking of the most diet-friendly lunch I could manage to acquire would be, given my current state of filthiness, when I asked what she wanted for lunch. The simple answer I received was "I don't care, I'll just have whatever will give me the energy to finish the job." This simple statement really got me thinking about my calorie-phobia. It dawned on me that it shouldn't be my goal to avoid all the delicious (yet fattening) food I had been craving, but rather to seek out the nutritious, beneficial food that my body needed.What I am getting at with these little anecdotes is that too often, while on a mission to drop some unwanted body fat, we all tend to focus our thoughts about eating toward the negative. "I can't have pizza" or "I can't go out for ice cream" need to be replaced with positive thinking about what we should eat, not what we can't. Wouldn't it be refreshing to look forward to a serving of veggies or a baked chicken breast and think about the positive attributes of healthy eating? It's only natural to have the occasional craving for something sweet, but if we all try a little harder to think in terms of what we can do for our bodies, rather than what we're being deprived of, I believe we'd all be a lot happier and more successful while working toward our fitness and health goals. -Steve

No comments:

Post a Comment