Smoothie Bowl with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, and granola

Are you eating yourself to health?

It’s time again when we jump on the ever so popular resolution train. For many, those resolutions are around health and wellbeing. But, where do you start? Does a healthy lifestyle begin at home? Does it start at the gym? I believe it starts at home. In the United States, there are over 150 million people, including millions of children, who suffer from obesity, diabetes, and a myriad of chronic illnesses. The problem is growing and in a majority of cases can be cured and/or limited by taking on your kitchen. Yes, I know that when you have a family at times it can become difficult to master culinary delights for everyone while running to afterschool activities, homework, and everything else that falls on your plate.

What I will tell you is that eating more whole, real foods, cooking them at home and sitting down together as a family will help to improve your health and the health of your family. The truth is, most of us simply don’t shop properly. We allow our taste buds and our bodies to be hijacked by the overconsumption of salt, chemicals, and other preservatives used to make “food” what they call “shelf-stable.” I am not sure about you, but I certainly don’t want to put something in my body that can last on my local grocers’ shelf for months, if not years, on end.

Processed foods, especially sugar, can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. How do we help ourselves to get out of this addictive food state? Willpower? That might help in the short term but it won’t help you in the long run. What we need to do is refocus our energy on eating real food and not feeling guilty. The closer to nature we eat, the easier our bodies will be able to absorb those much-needed nutrients and help to keep our “engine” running smoothly. Unfortunately, we did not come with an owner’s manual. And much like any other piece of equipment, we need to make sure that we are putting the right “parts,” or ingredients, into our machine for it to run properly. Read your labels if you buy processed foods, and know your facts. If a product says zero trans-fat, is that the real truth? Well, our food can be labeled that way if it has less than 2g per serving. And how many ingredients are on the label of the so-called “chicken nuggets” that are being fed to your children. Oh, and most importantly, is chicken one of them?

Knowledge is power when shopping or dining out. Make smart choices, and ask questions, lots of them. Cook more at home, and by that, I mean really cook. Cooking requires fresh ingredients and heating up a pan or the oven, NOT the microwave.

Of course, I can tell you to eat less and exercise more but that is just an easy way out. There is no judgment here. My goal is to help people to make healthier food choices. Clean eating really can help to heal our bodies. The process of healing in a natural way does not happen overnight. Our bodies need to do some detox and get used to eating a “diet” that consists of real food. Stick with it and you will begin to see changes you never thought possible. Before you know it your body will in a very subtle way tap you on the shoulder and say “an apple, please,” when it is in need of a sugar fix.

By: Chef Gary Appelsies, Director of Healthy Eating