You might say I'm a food addict. I'm a self pledged foodie who loves to go home and spend time cooking unique and interesting dinners. While I find it relaxing, it can be a double-edged sword. It takes my mind of the day's events and those nagging, persistent troubles that hang around. I also end up taking in a few more calories, as I take a few extra bites here and there to “test” the quality. Every good chef does that right?
Unfortunately that love of food has also been the struggle of my life. I'm sure millions of Americans and hundreds of local Valley County residents feel my pain. Food has been a love-hate relationship. While some periods of my life have gone well, I've kept up on nutrition and shed dozens of pounds, it seems stressful events and busy schedules can crush my good spirits and good health to the ground.
Recently I had a little more than a nudge to head in the right direction of nutrition. Sometimes it only takes a doctors visit, or persistent family members, to give you a little extra kick in the pants to get it in gear. So I've been reading and researching all sorts of nutritional information. Can I just say that all these conflicting articles and information make me want to sit down and eat an entire chocolate cake, preferably in my closet to hide the shame?
A few articles I did find rather helpful gave some realistic views on the world of food and nutrition. No miracle pill or fad diet will shed the pounds, I've tried most of them. Gluten is not the devil, sugar is not satan, and bread will not put you in your grave early. Common sense in portion sizes, a little knowledge on how your body responds to food, and switching out a few ingredients in your meals might possibly make all the difference.
I've made excuses about busy schedules, lack of energy and lack in willpower. I think we've all felt that way at points of time. While some of those issues are most definitely physical ailments my body is fighting, it all comes down to how I want to feel next week.
Take a look at national statistics and you'll find that heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in America, according to centers for disease control and prevention. Diabetes is number seven. The Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital (FMDH) released a community health assessment in 2013. After taking a few moments to read it over, I realized that my battle is the battle of a majority.
Obesity and nutrition are top issues in Valley County. Our county has a higher incidence of diabetes and mortality rate than much of the state. So do all our neighboring counties. Valley County also has a higher mortality rate for heart disease than the state, with 349 per 100,000 compared to 198 per 100,000 on a state level. Issues with eating enough fruits and vegetables were in the report. Sedentary lifestyles and a rise in obesity are issues in a wide range of ages across Eastern Montana.
So what am I getting at? If you're going through the struggle, just like I am, you are not alone. The best advice I have read so far was to take one good habit and spend three weeks making it stick before adding another one. It's a very slow and gradual process, and you can of course try to do more than one, but make sure one habit sticks. Get used to drinking the right amount of water, in a month start walking that extra block, in the following month start a fitness class you enjoy.
While the tortoise moves slowly, he moves at a steady pace and keeps his eyes on the goal. Eventually the tortoise beats the hare. It's one of my favorite children's stories, and one that applies to those out there looking for a healthier and happier lifestyle.