Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and many types of cancers all can stem from one cause: poor diets. Health classes teach high-schoolers to eat healthy and exercise at least thirty minutes a day, which by now, most high-schoolers know. Despite this, young adults don’t pay much attention to their diets; they think it would not affect them at their age, but that is exactly why they should care. The way we eat now is most likely how we are going to eat in ten years.
The world of social media has given the word “healthy” a certain image, but it doesn’t matter what size you are, a healthy lifestyle is something everyone should care about. Adults who had poor childhood diets are now suffering the consequences as they get older. There is no need for the average teen to have an ultra-restrictive diet, but it doesn’t excuse us from making smart choices with our food.
One thing everyone should remember is that a healthy diet looks different for everyone. We all need different amounts of nutrition and exercise to keep us healthy. The health and fitness ‘craze’ in recent years has had both positive and negative impacts on the teen diets. It’s easy to know the nutritional value of your lunch with a quick google search. More and more restaurants are now serving healthier foods, and although this is great, it has also discouraged people from leading better lifestyles. Being healthy is not about hitting the gym everyday or going on a crazy diet. It not only means getting the nutrition that your body needs, but also being mentally healthy.
As high-schoolers, if we begin making smarter choices when it comes to food, the pay-off will be tremendous in the future not just be for individuals, but for the whole country. Currently, more than 60% of Americans are at an unhealthy weight, with 33.4% classified as obese. At this rate, by 2030, more than half the population will be obese. If future generations, as well as ourselves, start to make knowledgeable decisions about what we put in our bodies, America can cut back on the $190.2 billion annually spent on health care caused by obesity-related illnesses.
There are countless ways to eat healthy, but many of them demand sacrificing the foods we love. Whether it be your go-to Starbucks drink, Chick-Fil-A, or your daily bagel order, we all have foods that would be hard to give up. Yet, there is one method that doesn’t require you to give up your favorite foods: mindful eating. Mindful eating, as you might have guessed, uses mindfulness, and it helps you to be aware of your emotions, cravings, and physical cues when eating. Instead of eating at random times, when we’re bored, or while multitasking, eat at specific times when your body is telling you, and when you eat, just eat. Eating while doing something else is a big reason as to why we often miss the signals our bodies are giving us. Whether you’re young or old, we only have one body, and we should care about what we put in it.
Graphic: Nicole Kye