September 19, 2012

Carrots Are Yummy, Too

Eating healthy is not easy. Perhaps those five words are the understatement of the year. Most people want to eat healthy, really they do. But everyone has their own temptation—fried foods, sweets, chips, soda, whatever. These temptations plague our lives. We look in the fridge for a healthy snack like carrots, but then we see that ranch dip we bought last week. We force our eyes down to the crisper, but somehow they creep back to the ranch dip. Then we think, “Well, I can have the carrots and dip them in the ranch. That’d be healthy.” Yep, the rationalization kicks in. So we grab the bag of baby carrots and the ranch dip and head to the couch. Then we start the snack. But, oh, that dip would sure taste great with the potato chips in the pantry. Then the whole healthy snack idea goes down the drain.

The intent was good, but the temptation was stronger. So what can we do to avoid this situation? The best advice for healthy eating is to keep healthy snacks on hand, front and center. Instead of hiding the snacks in the crisper, put them on the top shelf where our eyes will see them first. More importantly, if there are no unhealthy snacks in the house, we are unlikely to be tempted by them. If we keep them out of our refrigerators, pantries, and cupboards, we can’t feel the pull of their temptation. This is sometimes easier said than done, but if we want to eat healthier, we sometimes have to change our mindset and our surroundings.

Eating healthy does not mean that we can’t have any unhealthy snacks, but it does mean we have to limit those and watch how often we eat them. If we have unhealthy snacks and foods more often than not, we set ourselves up for myriad diseases and disorders. We must force ourselves to eat healthier. We must remind ourselves that healthier food tastes good, too. Instead of chips with our sandwiches, we should have small salads. Although we have to watch the salads, too. If we have more cheese and dressing than vegetables, that’s not good.

Furthermore, if we plan to have fruits and veggies with each meal instead of starches, then we balance our diet a little better. Having starches occasionally is fine. Having them every day is not. We all love potatoes in their various forms, but we have to balance that love with eating healthy. We must watch our intake of starches and sugars. This is hard to do because both of those tend to make easy meals and snacks.

Therein lies the rub. The meals and snacks that are easiest (and also tasty) tend to be those that are not as healthy or downright unhealthy. We can spend time slicing and dicing vegetables for a big salad or nice vegetable soup or we can run down to the nearest fast food joint and grab a burger and fries in less than five minutes. What we miss out on with the latter are the actions of preparing and cooking. We actually know what goes into our meals and snacks and can control the health level. We do not have that control outside of our homes or with pre-packaged meals.

Eating healthy is not easy, but it’s worth the effort to know what we’re putting in our bodies. Our health depends on it.

Image Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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