Why I eat healthy

Okay.  So, I’m going to complain about something and I don’t think it will elicit any sympathy, whatsoever.  But, I’m going to go ahead and put it out there.
Sometimes it’s hard being a skinny dietitian.
There.  I said it.  Unsubscribe.  Throw your computer.  Call me a jerk.  Just hear me out first.    
No matter your body size, many people make assumptions about your dietary habits based on your body type.  When your profession centers around food, people feel even more entitled to make these presumptions.  Being thin, I know I don’t face the same degree of stereotyping as someone who is overweight, but it still happens all the time.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a sampling of some of the comments I’ve received in just the past few weeks:
“Stop eating those salads and go eat a hamburger.”
“I bet you eat all the junk food you want and still stay skinny.”
“You never eat sweets do you?”

The comments don’t offend me anymore.  What bothers me is the underlying message.  They’re assuming I’m either an obsessive, deprived calorie counter or the opposite, that I shovel down fast food when no one’s looking.  If you’ve been following this blog, you know neither is correct.  I find these beliefs can actually be a major barrier in providing good patient care.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to take nutrition advice from a hypocrite or a neurotic health freak either. 
I don’t blame anyone for making these assumptions.  They’re simply the product of our weight obsessed society.  Rarely is healthy eating spoken of in the absence of a specific disease or obesity.  Most of the “diet” food made tastes so bad I can see why someone would only eat it if they had to!  This all leads to the mindset that someone who is sick or overweight needs to follow a “special” diet, but everyone else can eat what they want – presumably until they gain weight and then have to start a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.  Makes total sense, right?   
It’s true, I probably could subside on cheese, bread and cookies and still be a “healthy” weight.  But as much as I love cheese, bread and cookies , I don’t.  Why not?  There are many reasons why I choose to eat healthy, none of which have anything to do with weight.

I want to be healthy, and to be healthy, one must eat healthy.
Healthy is more than the absence of disease.   It's having energy and vitality.   Health is being strong, both physically and mentally.  It's living life with passion and enthusiasm.  Health is being joyous.  I want all these things, and I can’t have them I’m not fueling my body right. 
Ummm, I’m not that young anymore.
An odd statement from someone in her late twenties.  I’m at an age where most people feel chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease and cancer is something they have to worry about until somewhere near retirement.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re not as young as we might feel.  Or for that matter, act.  Sadly, I have many friends and acquaintances already battling chronic disease, including high cholesterol, hypertension, IBS, autoimmune disease, thyroid problems and even cancer. 
I care about the environment.
If you’re at all concerned about the health of our planet, then consider the food you eat.   It may be surprising, but what you eat has a huge impact on the environment.  I’ve mentioned the health benefits of eating less animal protein, but did you know there are environmental benefits too?  In fact, a meat eating diet requires 3 times more water, 13 (!!) times more fertilizer, and 1.5 times more pesticide than a vegetarian diet.  All that meat and poultry adds up - a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found animal foods contribute more greenhouse gasses than the transportation industry.  So maybe those jerks who still drive Hummers are vegetarians : )  Processed foods also have a huge carbon footprint.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, read the ingredients list on a heavily processed food and count how many items are listed.  Just think, each one of those ingredients was likely shipped from a different city, state or even country!  Look at the package itself.  Rarely is it recyclable.  Even if it is, energy still had to go into making the package. 
I vote with my fork.
I want more people to have access to healthy food and the best way I can ensure that is by voting with my fork.  Food companies won’t sell unhealthy food if we don’t buy it.  They are companies and have a responsibility to their stock holders and employees to make a profit.  If there is demand for healthy food, they’ll produce healthy foods.   
Healthy food is delicious. 
With the exception of a few recipe fails, I love every bite of food I put in my mouth.  As soon as I wake up, I’m thinking about the delicious recipe I’m making for dinner!  I’ve found by eating healthy, I rarely crave things that aren’t so good for me.  And the not so healthy foods I do crave (hello, chocolate croissant and artisan cheese plate for four), well, it’s not so hard to eat them in moderation when they’re crowded out with lots of good stuff!  So why not eat healthy?  I’m not missing out on anything!
What motivates you to eat healthy?  Leave a comment below!
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