Falling off the Chuck Wagon

August 3, 2009

My body is pretty healthy these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. I attribute my better health to a natural diet and was recently reminded of just how important it is to eat well. Foods we need are not always the foods we think we want. So-called “junk foods” are designed to be irresistible and can seem the most appealing when you are reaching for a quick bite.

Last week, while on vacation, and out of my normal routine, I indulged in snacks that my body has not seen in a long time. On holiday, I was falling off the chuck wagon. The end result was not pretty. After eating clean for months, the processed foods had left me hungover, sick and miserable.

What did eating have to do with how I felt? Plenty.

Processed foods are loaded with ingredients that make us feel icky. Some of the main culprits are sugar, chemical preservatives and hydrogenated oils.

Whole foods, on the other hand, are foods that are found in nature complete with all of their parts. An apple is a whole food, while apple juice is not. Brown rice is a whole food, white rice is not (its most nutritious parts have been polished off!). A potato is a whole food….a potato chip is not!

It doesn’t take much to upset the balance of the immune system, a complex biological structure designed to protect us from disease and help us recover when something slips through its cracks. A natural diet promotes strong immunity, strengthening our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals. Processed foods sap us of existing nutrients, and provide no nutritional benefit of their own. Because our bodies are not designed to eat these foods they do not digest easily and can remain in our system for years as toxic waste. After eating this way the appetite is often stronger, triggering us to eat more. Our bodies crave food despite how many calories we consume because they are starving for real nutrition; a terrible cycle of unsatisfying eating ensues.

So why doesn’t everyone feel sick all the time?

Processed food, like other toxic substances can be tolerated more and more with use. (Think about smokers; the first cigarette may be nauseating but years later they need two packs a day.) After a while, your stomach may feel ok, but other symptoms of malnutrition such as lethargy, heavy appetite and frequent illness are inevitable for someone with a junk food diet.

For years, I enjoyed a favorite breakfast of potato chips and milk, not thinking anything of it. I was also on the road to some pretty serious medical problems. Nowadays, I know the joy of fresh, wholesome foods and cannot imagine going back to my old ways. My recent vacation mishap reminded me that eating the way nature intended makes me feel great and I don’t for a minute miss my old habits.

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