Friday, April 20, 2012

Healthy eating is exhausting, near impossible

I made the decision a while back that I would try to be healthier. I became vegetarian and tried to eat less and less fried food. The vegetarian part is easy, the fried food part isn't. So on my never-ending quest to get "back into" eating healthy -- a habit I'm not sure I've ever started -- I like to read health articles about food and exercise.
Almost all of us can recite at least one statistic about the out-of-control obesity rate in America. We all know we should work out and avoid fattening foods. We all know that as we get older it's hard to keep the weight off.

But lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed. During my research I have found that processed foods are terribly harmful, pesticides and chemicals are killing us, our diets may cause autism, sitting all day is harmful even if you do work out regularly, and working out may not do much if you don't do it at least 5 times a week.

But wait a minute... I though that if I worked out at least three times a week I'd be okay? I know I'm supposed to avoid high fat foods -- but now, processed foods, too? How am I supposed to live life entirely on whole foods alone? Who has the time or the money?

I have also watched a documentary -- Food Matters -- that insists that cooking your vegetables is actually not good because it burns off the nutritious value of it. So now I can't eat processed foods or I'll die, only uncooked, organic veggies are okay, I can't sit while I'll do my homework even though I run regularly, and I need to devote 5 days a week to my workout schedule.

Can you feel my anxiety mounting?

The problem is that right now, doing all of this is nearly impossible. We're in a recession and organic foods are just too expensive. For example, organic eggs at the Wegman's in State College cost $4.29 for a dozen, whereas non-organic eggs cost $1.79. I'm going into the AmeriCorps so I just don't think these prices are an option for me or hardly anyone with a family and kids.

I would love to think that I can survive on vegetables alone -- but have you ever eaten just vegetables for a meal? I can guarantee (based on firsthand experience) you'll be hungry within an hour. For me, as a vegetarian, I eat a lot of beans -- but rest-assured I need to make sure to thoroughly rinse canned beans unless I want to add copious amounts of sodium to my diet. Don't even get me started on the meat precautions in this country...

Oh, and I once read an article that insists that low fat foods are actually doing more damage than good.

Now, I know that all of my citations are not necessarily proven based on research, so I am not claiming we should all listen. However, I think it's getting harder and harder to pick out which information to believe and which information not to. It's true that our culture took a turn for the worst when the fast-food era came about -- but how do we turn it around? More importantly, how do I eat healthy while still eating? If I follow all of these health rules I'm sure to have limited -- if any -- choices. Oh, and I'll also be bankrupt.

Right now, I know I worry too much about if I'm eating unhealthy -- mainly because everything seems to be unhealthy in one form or another. Any suggestions as to where I can go from here?