Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, reaching over 300,000 victims each and every year. In fact, obesity has scored higher in mortality rates for both cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, unlike what people think, this condition is preventable and quite simple to revert: changing a few eating habits and exercising more regularly can make a significant difference in one’s overall health.
“The problem nowadays is that people do not give enough importance to eating healthy and spending time selecting their food,” Tennis coach and Health teacher Josh Martinez said. “We are busy and we have lost sight of cooking together and spending time in the kitchen. Drifting towards junk food is more convenient, an easier way out and a much cheaper one too.”
When people consume food, they often consider the instant reward system and the pleasure they will feel immediately after ingestion. However, beneath the mouthwatering attractiveness of kolaches and donuts lies an infinite number of sugars, saturated fat, salt and artificial ingredients that can severely damage the body.
“It is so important to eat healthy because it really helps elongate your life,” said Martinez. “Look at all the lifestyle diseases. For example, by eating healthy you can improve your life and prevent 80 percent of those diseases.”
The habit of eating processed foods is as damaging as smoking a cigarette and in fact, the top ten causes of death in the United States are all lifestyle related diseases. For example, heart, lung, brain and kidney disease; parkinson’s disease; digestive, blood, breast, prostate and iatrogenic cancer; infections; diabetes; high blood pressure and suicidal depression can all be prevented or minimized by consuming more fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
“Junk food is addictive and I used to eat fast food every single day. I was not overweight because I was lucky enough to have a fast metabolism, but I felt lethargic, unmotivated, bloated and I had very low self-esteem,” senior Taylor Christie said. “It was after I went to a nutritionist, changed my eating habits and began exercising regularly that I noticed a significant difference in my physique, my disposition, my performance in school and my motivation to do things.”
Unlike what the commercials announce, this change in lifestyle does not occur overnight and it takes persistence, determination, research and a lot of planning. It is all about eating a balanced diet and trying to think not only of the effect it will have on one’s physical appearance, but also how it will positively affect the inside of body.
“I believe that the biggest thing people should do to solve this problem is to start eating at home, Martinez said. “When eating, people should sit down with their families and turn off the television. Also, going on family walks, playing sports outdoors or doing something together with your family can really help promote a healthier way of life.”
Eating healthy should not be a sacrifice, but rather a pleasure. Even though it is a journey, the body will learn to adapt and it will start asking for nourishing foods that will help promote life longevity, self confidence, mental and physical health and beauty that circulates inside and out.
“I think that it is all about finding healthier alternatives for what you used to crave and learning how to experiment with flavors and different ingredients,” said Christie. “I know for a fact that making this change was one of the best decisions I made in my life and I feel like a totally different person. It wasn’t easy and for those who have just started this healthier journey, know that you shouldn’t give up because there will be a time where you’ll realize the power food had on overall health.”