Eat Healthy, Live Longer

by Shauna Zamarripa

You are what you eat. Eating over-processed, over-packaged and preservative-laden foods has been linked to premature aging and certain diseases. Poor eating habits have been attributed to cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. With all of this information at our fingertips, how do we stave off the next Big Mac attack?

First, consider your health. How do you feel after you've loaded up on a fast-food favorite? All of those processed, fried and fatty foods are little more than empty calories that contribute to an expanding waistline and unhealthy body. These overly processed, not-easily-digestible meals cause us to feel sluggish, tired, and heavy. All of these factors contribute to a shortened lifespan.

After you've thought about your mealtime habits, you should consider how you snack. When you have an after-dinner snack attack, do you reach for the nearest peach or the nearest slice of peach pie? Eating unhealthy desserts late into the evening are also bad for your digestion, in addition to causing weight gain and early onset of diabetes.

Then think about why you eat. Normally unhealthy eating habits are born out of a need for "comfort food." It's easy to reach for a quart of Ben and Jerry's if you're certain that it will make you "feel better;" however, looking that the nutrition facts might have you singing a different tune.

Eating healthier is an easy process. Once you've identified what you're eating, how it makes you feel and why you are eating it, you know the root of the issue. It's at that point you begin retraining process for both your body and your mind.

After dissected how you eat, why you eat and when you eat it's time to do a little house cleaning. After all, if you don't have cookies in the pantry, you can't reach for cookies when you want to have a late night snack. Once you've rid your home of processed foods loaded with empty calories and preservatives it's time to go shopping.

If you have a sweet tooth, spend some quality time in the produce isle. Fruits like pomegranates, kiwi and strawberries are loaded with vitamins and can curb that craving for sweets. Eating fresh fruits is much better than drinking fruit juices loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. The more natural you can keep your diet, the better.

If you tend to snack late in the evening, the produce isle is a good place for you to hang out as well. Find broccoli, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes, and keep them cut up and on hand for any late night craving. Celery is also a great snacking vegetable, as it contains no calories whatsoever, and will help you feel full.

Add a salad to your dinner, every night. Not only does eating a salad after a meal help to aid in your body's natural digestion, it helps you eat less of less healthy entres like meats and pastas. Dark green leafy salads are best, but any salad will be a positive step toward better health.

After a few weeks of incorporating more natural foods like fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet you'll find that you aren't craving unhealthy fast food meals, or fried entrees, and if you do indulge in one of those bad habits you won't enjoy it as much. Imbibing unhealthy foods will cause you to feel a difference in your body that you won't like. Eating healthy not only helps you live longer, but live better by boosting your natural immunity toward disease and increasing your energy levels.

If you're hungry for change, and you have a desire to feel and look better for many years to come, it's time to start being conscious of what you are putting in your body, and how your body is being affected. Keeping your diet simple and fresh is a step on the road to a long and healthy life.