Have you ever said (or wanted to be able to say) “I eat healthy!”? Eating healthfully in the new millennium now carries its own badge of honor. It is as noshing kale is clothing the poor or drinking fermented tea is a cold glass of water to someone in need. Making body-nourishing food choices is something to strive for but it is easy to lose our perspective and not have an accurate view of “How Healthy is Your Diet?
IT’S NOT AS BLACK & WHITE AS WE THINK
While there are some situations in life where “bad” and “good” are black and white, there are a lot of areas where embracing the gray will do us a big favor! Diet and exercise are one of those areas. Medical conditions and food allergies aside, every single food choice we make is made within the context of an entire diet. Each choice is a piece of the puzzle called your health.
Would you call a busy executive who eats mountains of fruits and veggies along with protein and whole grains “healthy”? What if that person ate chips and fried chicken wings every Sunday during football season? Is their diet still healthy?
Or what about the opposite scenario- A busy mom finds herself living off fast food and packaged snacks while carting the kids from place to place. However, on Wednesday nights she and her family go out to dinner on their way church. Wednesday evenings she always orders a salad loaded with vegetables, beans, and a splash of olive oil. Does that salad flush out all of her unhealthy choices or is her diet still poor in quality?
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW
Our food and exercise choices don’t live in a vacuum. Each and every decision we make will move us to the left or to the right on the continuum of health. A couple of steps in one direction won’t undo 5o the other way.
We can’t expect a few nourishing choices to spring us back to health. But it is also true that a couple of treats, sweets, and fried eats won’t undo all of our efforts to eat well! Please hear what I am saying- it is ok to plan on having a variety of food in our life. Perfectionistic tendencies only make us crazy, not healthy!
When we step back and look at the OVERALL quality of our diet, what do we see? Just as each of these photos has a different type and variety of flowers, so will we each have a different assessment of our diets.
BUT HOW DO WE KNOW IF A FOOD IS GOOD FOR US?
Matthew 7:20 NLT Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
It is pretty safe to say that the outcome of a habit or behavior is a fairly reliable indicator of how “good” something is. If we smoke, our health will decline sending us a crystal clear message that smoking is a truly unhealthy habit. Other examples may be less obvious… How about caffeine? One news report says that coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants while a magazine article out the same day states that java is terrible for our teeth and bone health because of its acidic compounds. What gives?
Well, we need to ask ourselves, what is the fruit (or lack thereof) of this food or drink (caffeine) in our lives? Is our health better or worse because of it? Or maybe it’s indifferent. The outcome or the fruit of drinking coffee is your personal determination if coffee is good for your personal well-being.
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OUR HEALTH TELLS US A LOT
So when assessing how healthy your diet is, start by evaluating your overall health and wellness. The questions listed below will help you discover if there is room for improvement or not. Ok, wait, there is always room for improvement! But what we need to know is if the need for change in your life is meaningful enough to cause you to act.
In examining your general health, ask yourself:
- How are my energy and endurance? Am I able to do all that I am called to do each day?
- How well am I sleeping? Do I wake rested and ready to start the day?
- Am I able to participate in all the activities I would like to?
- How is my digestion? Am I eating foods that do not agree with my body?
- How is my mental clarity? Do I have a foggy brain after I eat certain foods?
- How am I able to manage stress? Do I feel irritable after I eat a certain food or go a while without eating?
As you read through those questions, do you see any gaps in your nutrition? Are there areas that could be improved?
Please try to avoid feeling overwhelmed with all of the changes you would like to make. Remember that drastic changes advocated by fad diets aren’t tailored to your needs or your available time and energy that you need to change. Take the bird’s eye view and determine the general health of your diet.
Try rating the quality on a scale of 1-100 and decide what changes you would like to make to bump yourself up a few digits. Don’t forget that we are looking from 10,000 feet here! Radical changes are typically followed by radical regression. Easy, sustainable changes continue and come along with an awesome bonus of “compound interest”!
As we have seen, it is easy to jump to conclusions about the health of your diet based on what is right in front of your eyes. However, we are able to get a better grasp of how well we are nourishing our bodies by taking a step back and looking at the big picture.
Has taking a bird’s eye view of your diet left you with something to think about? As you contemplate these thoughts, consider what small changes you could make to move towards those improvements TODAY! And when you are caught off guard by the latest fad diet (oh, and you will be) remember YOUR assessment of YOUR diet. You know you best. What works for you, works for you; let others do what works for them. How healthy is YOUR diet?