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The Importance of Having a Healthy Relationship with Food

1. It’s not about the calories 

If there’s one thing that bothers me, it’s calorie counting. Calories themselves have nothing to do with health- it’s the molecules that give your body caloric energy in that matter. Vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, proteins, and unsaturated fats are what you want to focus on, not the calories. 

2. t’s not about your weight either

Do not buy a scale. Do not weigh yourself. Your weight is as inconsequential to your health as your caloric intake. If you get into the routine of weighing yourself, it will always be about the number. And when that number does not go down, eating food will become a competition with yourself before you know it. Focus on how you feel. If you eat clean, whole foods with the right ingredients, you’ll feel the difference- and that’s the only indicator of your health that matters.

3. Stick to ingredients your great-grandmother would recognize 

Don’t be fooled by a brand name. Just because “low-fat,” “vegan,” or “whole-grain” is labeled on the box does not mean it’s healthy. Foods labeled as “healthy alternatives” to their full-fat and full-sugar counterparts may not be any better for your body. Many healthy alternatives also contain an extensive list of preservatives, chemical dyes, and man-made ingredients that have unknown health consequences. Check the ingredient list of everything you buy. If the list takes up more than 2 lines of ingredients you can’t pronounce, or if your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize the vast majority of ingredients on the list- it’s simple. Don’t buy it. Stick to the perimeter of grocery stores where fresh produce and refrigerated goods are located. That’s where you’ll find whole foods with fewer preservatives.

4. Make simple meals at home

Yes, cooking takes time. Time a college student does not have. But knowing what you put in your body is essential to staying healthy. There are so many simple recipes floating around on the internet. Soak chia seeds (or oats if you’re on a tighter budget) in almond milk and you have a yummy breakfast. Meal prep a few servings of whole-wheat pasta and chicken on a Sunday afternoon and you have an easy, healthy dinner for busy days during the week. Meal prep is truly only as difficult as you make it.

5. Don’t Restrict yourself

My last tip is the most important one. Don’t ban food. If you go out with your friends to Menchies, get that frozen yogurt. Order that dominos at 2 am! If you completely cut out your favorite desserts and snack food, it will only make eating healthy more difficult to maintain. Just enjoy yourself; happiness is just as important to your health as food is!

Madeleine McGuinness is a sophomore at Emory University majoring in Human Health. She is interested in all things concerning women’s health and well-being!
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