*Click here to start reading from the beginning of my food journey.
Eating a balanced diet never occurred to me as a university student. My diet was full of fast-food junk. Then as I learned how to cook, my palate was still accustomed to foods high in salt and fat. After I entered the working world, the pendulum shifted the other way and I over-analyzed everything I ate.
So how did I finally start to eat like a healthy human?
Someone who enjoys the taste of vegetables but still eats pizza on Friday nights?
My perspective began to change when I read about the Okinawa Centenarian Study. This study explored how the elderly people of Okinawa, Japan, may have the longest life-expectancy and highest number of centenarians living in the world. Some reasons contributing to this include genetics, dietary habits, physical activity, psychological and social aspects.
I started to think, was I on the path to living healthy until a hundred years old? My social and physical activities were in check, and there was obviously nothing I could do to change my genetics.
However, if I wanted to live a long and happy life, I was going to have to finally start eating a balanced diet. Constantly scrutinizing my food was not the path to longevity.
I began to relax the reins on my food restrictions. Since it was already habitual for me to cook whole vegetables, lean meats, grains etc. all I needed to do was accept the fact that eating a handful of chips once in awhile wasn’t going destroy my body.
“Cheetos, let’s be friends again.”
Keeping this in mind, over time I developed and maintained a healthy awareness for when I was indulging in treats.
My trick was to:
- Be mindful of what I was craving for
- Think about the last time I gave into this craving
- Use portion control
- Enjoy the food
It has been over three years since I’ve been eating a balanced diet. Even though I had grown up eating this way when I was living with my family, I never acknowledged the food that I was eating, or understood its importance.
Now, I can finally say that I’ve found my healthy balance point with food.
Breakfast is usually a green smoothie followed by oatmeal with yogurt.
Lunch is either a quinoa salad or leftovers from last night’s dinner.
Snacks throughout the day include fruit, raw vegetables, nuts, homemade banana bread or protein power balls.
Dinner consists of an equal amount of lean protein, starch, and steamed or roasted vegetables.
At the same time, I enjoy the occasional late night ice cream, Friday night pizza, and greasy and oily restaurant food on the weekends.
As I transitioned from a fast-food, ravioli-can-hoarding university student to a working twenty-something trying to find my way, my food journey required me to train my palate to enjoy the taste of wholesome foods and better understand their nutritional value.
Comment below on your own food journeys! Is anyone still trying to find a sustainable, balanced diet?