Friday, August 11, 2006

Healthy Living: The Key to Successful Living

(This is the first of a five-part series on the importance of health as key to a successful life. Today we look at healthy eating habits.)

Let's face it - without healthy living we can't possible have successful living. Good health is the single most important component to a successful life.

With it, you can enjoy the fruits that this world has to offer. Without it, all the money in the world is pretty much meaningless. Come on, how could you enjoy all that money if you were constantly sick? Exactly, you wouldn't.

Good health isn't just about eating right. There are more components involved in the health equation than just eating your fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.

Although good eating habits are a start, we must incorporate exercise, the elimination of unhealthy habits, quality relationships and proper mental and emotional attitudes to complete the total health picture.

If any of these five key factors are missing from our lives we cannot possibly be at our best and most efficient. In order to have a more clear-cut picture in mind of what total health is, we need to break down the five key factors of good health one-by-one.


Probably no topic, with the exception of religion, has as much debate, controversy and disagreement surrounding it than nutrition.

From Atkins to South Beach, from low-carb to high-carb and every fad diet in-between - from celebrities, PhD holders, gym owners, to the guy down the street. All have an opinion on proper diet and healthy nutrition.

And while this author is not a nutrition expert or a doctor, I say it's time for a little intelligence and common sense to take over and settle the argument once and for all.

Common sense tells us all that a proper diet is one that contains lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein (chicken, fish, beef) with some healthy fats (nuts, olive oil) thrown in for good measure. Also, don't forget to drink plenty of water and get some daily dairy as well.

Common sense also tells us that processed foods high in saturated and trans fats are a no-no. These include chips, processed sugary treats, fast food and anything made with white flour. Now this doesn't mean you have to become monk-like and completely abstain from these foods - just eat them sparingly. I like a good brownie every now and then, just not every day. If you like fast food, go out once or twice a month and treat yourself. Be sensible with your eating habits and patterns.

Deprivation and diets do not work. The perfect balance is to eat healthy 90 percent of the time and with the other 10 percent - eat what you want, just eat it sparingly. Life is supposed to be savored and enjoyed. If you're constantly getting down on yourself for eating a doughnut or whatever, that's not healthy either. Relax, eat the doughnut if you want, but eat only one and not on a regular basis and you'll be fine. Stop beating yourself up over it.

We can go too far on the supposed healthy side as well. Take for instance the no-carb craze. Some take it to such extremes that they won't even eat a piece of fruit, because the fructose is too high in carbohydrates. Give me a break!

No one and I mean no one, is going to tell or convince me that fruits are bad. They come from nature, were put here by God and they're supposed to be our true candy. The sweetness in fruit is natures gift to us - not a Milky Way or Snickers. Fruit is good. Besides, the body needs carbohydrates for energy. The brain itself feeds off one thing and one thing only - carbs. The low carb people need to get a grip. It's empty carb foods like chips and cookies that are bad, not a grape.

The final problem in the nutrition debate is eating frequency. We here in America eat too damned much. I don't care if you follow a totally clean, healthy diet - eating too much and too frequently hurts the digestive system by not giving it a chance to relax and take a break. I'm not a doctor, but I have experience on this eating too much stuff, just ask my acid-reflux filled stomach if the digestive system needs a break or not.

Eating the five, six or seven meals a day that some recommend is ridiculous. We need to eat less not more. Numerous studies have proven that calorie restriction (not starvation people, restriction) is a known factor in extending life expectancy.

Two to four meals per day is all anyone really needs for energy, health and proper nutrition. The majority who don't exercise should eat 2-3 meals, while the exercisers should go with four, since they're using up more energy on a daily basis.

Fasting is another integral part of a complete, healthy nutrition plan. Fasting isn't just for religious purposes. Fasting cleans the body of impurities and stimulates the mind to creative thought and ideas. Everyone should fast on a weekly or once a month basis.

Finally, don't forget to take a multi-vitamin daily. No one eats right all the time, so a vitamin is a good insurance policy.

So here in a nutshell, using only the tools of intelligence and common sense, we have come up with a complete, easy to follow nutrition plan for good health.

1. Eat fruits and veggies daily.
2. Eat whole grains daily.
3. Eat some healthy fats (Olive Oil, nuts) daily.
4. Drink plenty of water every day.
5. Eat some lean protein (fish, chicken, lean beef) daily.
6. Don't forget your dairy.
7. Eat 2-4 meals per day.
8. Fast once a weak or once a month.
9. Take a multi-vitamin daily.
10. Treat yourself to some junk food if you want, only do so sparingly.

Follow the above ten steps and you don't need to buy another diet book ever again.

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