Benefits of eating healthy

Imagine standing in front of two different food bars. One is filled with crunchy greens, nuts filled with healthy fats, lean proteins and various  vegetables to make a delightful salad. The other displays options of sugar packed sweets, chips and all of Grandma’s fattening holiday dishes. Which would you choose to eat? With an increasing number of studies on nutrition being released, the United States has been thrown into a health food craze. Prominent figures, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, have been sparking a revolution to reform the idea of a healthy lifestyle, especially in the younger generations.

“In what ways do you believe you live a healthy lifestyle?” was the question asked over the loud chattering of students and the occasional excited outburst from friends who had not seen each other since the hour before in the hallways.

Senior Charlie Haumersen quickly pipes up. He said, “I exercise five to six times per week, and I try to stay away from fast food. Being a part of a team helps with that, because they keep you motivated. You always want to do better than the guy next to you.”

While sophomore Maya Eckert paused for a moment before taking a more cognitive approach to health. She said, “I exercise and eat well three times a day. But I also keep myself mentally happy by talking to my friends if I’m having a bad day, because that usually helps me feel better.”

Junior Isabel Day keeps herself healthy. She said “By drinking lots of water. I shoot for a least three big bottles a day. I like to go to the gym several times a week, and I try to eat lots of veggies.” True to character, Day swiftly finishes her statement with a joke, “Oh, and I try to eat ice cream only every other day, instead of everyday.”

Mental health is very important in a healthy lifestyle, just as much as exercising to keep your body toned, or nourishing your body with healthy foods. Taking time to relax or do something you love can significantly reduce stress, and make your study or work time more productive. Eckert said she enjoys “horseback riding, running, and working out with my brother Cole.” She recommends finding something that you enjoy, and to “team up with a friend.” That way you’re completing two objectives at the same time: giving your brain much needed rest, and while strengthening your body.

Although there are many trendy exercise options, and plenty of fad diets, students are speaking to how to fit health into their busy schedules. Senior Jenny Hammer recommends to her peers, “it doesn’t matter what you eat, just eat any unhealthy food in moderation. Stay active! Try to get out and do something everyday.”

Many Americans make the mistake of succumbing to their packed lives and busy daily routines, stopping at the nearest fast food joint just to satisfy the hunger in their bellies. Day said that her schedule “makes it so hard!” to stick to a strong health regimen. “Homework makes it a major struggle. I never want to go to the gym after school when I know I have a ton of homework back at home.” And when speaking to eating habits, Day said, “It’s easier to throw a quick meal together, but that’s not always the healthiest choice.”

The average human should take in roughly 2000 calories per day. That varies depending on the person’s height, weight, age and their usual amount of daily activity. A large mistake that is often made is that people assume that all foods are created equal. Protein from red meat is not as nutritious for you as protein from fish, fats from vegetable oil should be avoided, whereas fats from avocados are extremely beneficial in a balanced diet, and processed sugar found in candy or cereals is different from the sugar found in fruits and vegetables.

Senior Claire Dronen said, “I’ve lived on a farm with parents who believe in healthy eating. To us, that means that everything comes straight from the livestock, coop, orchard or garden. We home-make and can a lot of our goods as well. My mom tends to shop at out local health food store, and gets the things we can’t grow or harvest from there,” Dronen said, “I’ve definitely been deprived of my artificial sugars and MSG’s.”

Haumersen said, “a little bit of exercise and eating right can make a huge difference.” So, whether you choose to harvest from your own backyard, go to the local health food co-op, or make the correct choices when stopping by Cub Foods on your way home from basketball practice, you can maintain a nutritious diet.

Photo courtesy Claire Dronen

No-bake Energy Bites

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips/M&M’s
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup ground/chopped almonds
1 tbs chia seeds or flax seeds
1 tsp vanilla

1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed
2. Cover and chill for 30 mins
3. Roll into 1″ balls

Lasts about a week when kept in the fridge.