The expression “You are what you eat,” is a very familiar phrase. There are many origins of the simple health phrase, which indicates that the food you eat can greatly impact your state of mind and health.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is a French lawyer and politician, who helped found the genre of the gastronomic essay. In 1826, he said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”
Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach was a German philosopher and anthropologist. In his 1863-64 essay, Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism, he wrote, “Man is what he eats.”
Dr. Victor Hugo Lindlahr was an American nutritionist, and health food and weight loss pioneer. In the 1920s and 1930s, he helped the momentum of food as a basis for controlling health with the development of the Catabolic Diet, which was known for weight loss. In 1942, Lindlahr published the book You Are What You Eat: How to Win and Keep Health with Diet, and that famous phrase would fill people’s minds.
If you are what you eat, it is important to know your food, so what you eat translates into a healthy life. When you don’t know your food, what you are may be anyone’s guess.
In a 1923 edition of the Bridgeport Telegraph, there was an advertisement that read, “Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.”
How do you know what you are? How do you know what to eat? These are two very loaded questions. I don’t mean loaded onto your baked potato or chili cheese fries. Without food, there is no life. Here are four steps to help you understand how food impacts your life.
Cut Out Unhealthy Food
The first step in understanding how food impacts your life is to understand what food impacts your life on a negative level. You are always sick, but can’t figure out why. How important is food in your life? Do you want the best food for your engine or are you quite content with picking up anything anywhere? Junk food nation has greatly impacted your health whether or not you are aware of it. Fast food restaurants not only drain your wallet, but they also negatively affect your body and your mind. Depression and anxiety are two mental health conditions largely associated with fast food consumption, full of carbohydrates. There really isn’t moderation with fast food because damage to the arteries occurs almost immediately after just one junk food-type meal, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
Even food from your grocery store can have a negative impact on the body. Processed and packaged foods contain many food additives, preservatives, and other chemicals. Your vegetables and fruits could have been exposed to many pesticides or GMOs. Also, your animal products could contain antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones.
If you don’t know what to cut from your diet, ask yourself “Who am I?” This will help you sort out why you’re eating the food you are, and help you eliminate the foods that don’t best serve your health.
Learn What Foods are Good for You
You may be eating a diet full of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and organic meats, and yet you constantly feel bloated or sick. Even healthy food may negatively impact a person. You can be eating the best food money can buy; however, are you absorbing the nutrients from your food? If your digestion system is compromised often you are not getting the most health benefits from your healthy foods. I would recommend that a proactive first step would be to consult a holistic nutritionist to help you set up a game plan to determine which foods are best for you.
If you are having an issue with digestion, gas, and bloating, you may subsequently have food allergies to certain foods. Common ways to detect food allergies include food elimination diets, ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) blood tests, and applied kinesiology and muscle testing, which use bioenergetic feedback to help determine which foods cause muscular imbalances in your body.
Spend Time Figuring Out Who You Are
“Who are you?” “Who am I?” Now those are loaded questions. Take time to figure out who you are from the inside and out. What affects you on the inside to impact how you look on the outside? What do you put into your body that impacts your brain health, which influences how you think and learn during your life?
The best solution is to find out who you are, and continuously ask important questions for your health, and your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Meeting with a nutritionist is a good idea; however, don’t stop there. Naturopathic doctors, homeopathic practitioners, body-centered psychotherapists, yoga instructors, meditation facilitators, and local farmers are all great people to help you discover important information about your health and why you may have made particular decisions along the way.
Set Your Plate
What are common eating habits of healthy people? Again, that depends on the person after you have determined who you are, and what the best foods are that positively impact your body. Your general macronutrient breakdown may include 15% protein, 15% fats, and 70% carbohydrates, and you may even take that breakdown further by discerning between what nutrients and what types of food you are putting into your body. If your carbohydrate intake is full of gluten breads and wheat products, consider consuming more whole grains like brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, or quinoa. Your fats would be mostly of the healthy kind as well (good fats like extra virgin olive oil and avocado).
Your plate would also include the general clean diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, while eating organically whenever possible. This would also include organic eggs and grass-fed cuts of meat and wild cold-water fish such as salmon. Nuts and seeds are also very important for a balanced diet.
If your goal is to know who you are, a good place to start is to know the food you put into your body. Let your intention be to know who you are to help you know what you should be eating. When you know who you are, your food tastes that much better.
“You are what you eat,” The Phrase Finder web site; http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/you%20are%20what%20you%20eat.html, last accessed April 8, 2014.
Hamblin, J., “What We Eat Affects Everything,” the Atlantic web site, Oct. 3, 2013; http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/what-we-eat-affects-everything/279922/.
“Fast Food Nutrition: Junk Food’s Effect On Your Body,” FitDay web site; http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/fast-food-nutrition-junk-foods-effect-on-your-body.html, last accessed April 8, 2014.
Kirkpatrick, K., R.D., “Fast Food’s Immediate Damage to Your Health,” HuffPost Healthy Living web site, Dec. 3, 2012; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/fast-food-health-arteries-beauty_n_2198725.html.