The secret to building a healthy body is reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. We may pig out on special occasions or when we finally get to eat that super unhealthy but oh-so-delicious birthday cake, but that all results from a mentality that has been normalized and can be detrimental to our health. We live in a society that sees food as something to build a celebration or holiday around, or a method of giving comfort, or a way of showing love. While there's nothing wrong with enjoying how your food tastes, we have moved away from the mindset that food is fuel, which is a massive part of why we have such an obesity epidemic in North America. It's tough to see food as fuel when eating food has become such a pleasure-driven activity. To be successful on the ketogenic diet or any other lifestyle change, it's essential to change your mindset and see food as fuel.
Food IS Fuel
We need to start recognizing that food is quite literally one of the most impactful and vital sources of nutrients we obtain daily and is the key to being in a healthy body and healthy mind. We've always been taught that food is an essential part of us. We're still trying to fit in a healthy amount of meals and snacks whenever we can. It's difficult to distinguish the difference right off the bat. Nevertheless, we need to consider the change and differences we feel after we've eaten something.
Have you ever eaten anything like a snack or a heavy meal and suddenly felt sluggish after?
That's a prime example of how food can affect us and how we feel. Again, it isn't easily distinguishable due to how common and normalized it is. Still, we need to develop an awareness of it. This mindset can result in health consequences such as illness or long-term medical conditions that require medical care. Ideally, in a healthy body and healthy mind, you want to balance your diet to keep your body healthy, which in turn, keeps your mind healthy. We are told in the vaguest mannerism possible that food serves as fuel. Still, we're never really educated on how that happens.
It's never too late to start changing this mindset. You can begin cutting out sugar and other processed foods to improve your body and mind's health for starters. That’s the basis of the keto lifestyle.
We Are What We Eat
When you consume processed foods and sugary snacks that do no good for your health, you’re damaging a lot more in your body than you realize. Over time, we tend to develop an addiction to unhealthy foods. A perfect example of this addiction is the keto flu. When a person decides to go on a keto diet, the chances are they will suffer through the keto flu. Keto flu essentially shows how we start to feel sluggish and sick when we lose our source of normalized fuel and electrolytes. Our everyday eating habits may not feel like an addiction, but our body sure reacts like it's in withdrawal. However, when we let our body have what it's gotten used to, the keto flu magically cures itself. Cutting out processed food and sugars ultimately brings long-term health benefits. It gives us "premium" fuel rather than just making us feel full at the moment.
Low-quality foods can spike blood sugar levels due to their low fiber content and ability to be digested quickly once consumed. The changes in our blood sugar levels can cause mood swings and impact our mind’s health. Low-quality foods don’t really give us any health benefits. They are more detrimental than beneficial, hence why they should be cut out of your diet. They may be filling, but they're filling at a cost. Higher-quality foods, however, are loaded with fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. This is already starting to sound a lot better than low-quality foods, right? It doesn't stop there. The mineral content found in these specific foods can nourish our brains and even protect it from oxidative stress. Some high-quality foods may be filling, and others may not be; it's entirely dependent on the food. You're provided with a variety of nutrients. You reap the benefits of them if you eat higher quality foods over a more extended period. A few examples of low-quality foods are donuts, cake, processed foods, refined foods, and anything you can think of that's canned or pre-made and packaged. Some examples of high-quality foods are garlic, kale, salmon, medium-chain triglycerides, you name it—all of the healthy stuff.
The Last Bite
Your body functions a bit like a car. And just like cars, we need the right kind of fuel to keep running and working correctly. If you've ever been forced to put cheap fuel in your car and then found its performance suffering, you understand the impact of low-quality, processed food on your body. When you put higher-octane fuel in your vehicle, you notice that those little knocks and hesitation when you push on the gas pedal improve. Your body reacts the same when you provide it with higher quality fuel. Attaining natural health starts with our diets. Just like you wouldn't want your car to take in lousy fuel, I'm positive you don't want to take in any crummy fuel either. This is the first step to breaking out of the normalized, harmful mindset of only keeping yourself full and not truly keeping yourself healthy.
A funny thing happens when you begin feeding yourself healthier foods. With the right balance of macros, you start needing less food to keep yourself feeling full. Many of us grew up on a diet heavy in starches like potatoes and bread as a way to keep us full because they were easy on the grocery budget. We probably carried over this thinking into our adult lives, too. Having a steak with a baked potato seemed natural. While the steak is delicious and provides us with nutrients, the baked potato fills us up. The spoonful of vegetables or salad on the side helped to fill out the nutrients for the meal. But when you're building a meal with the proper balance of macros, you’ll find that you get full with less food because your hunger pangs actually stem from the need for nutrients, not because your stomach is empty. When you have that beautiful steak with a nice pat or two of butter and a much larger serving of veggies or a huge salad, then you're actually filling your macronutrient needs rather than filling your empty stomach. This becomes just as friendly to the grocery budget as filling up with starches; you're eating less food because you're meeting your nutrient needs, so your body is signaling that it's full.