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How I Stopped Settling for So-So Health

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“Okay” isn’t all life has to offer

I grew up eating boxed cereal. They were mostly the supposedly healthy ones like Shreddies and Bran Flakes, consumed exclusively at breakfast.

But if Mom and Dad went out, my brother and I weren’t above sneaking in a “Cheerios dinner.” It was quick and easy, and involved two out of the four food groups recommended by Canada’s Food Guide. If we’d eaten wieners and beans with a side of fruit at lunchtime,  we figured all the bases were covered.

Many years later, I knew homemade meals were infinitely better than processed; wieners were generally not composed of items resembling actual food; and carbs were preferably obtained through vegetables rather than white rice or “Wonder Bread.” However, one thing stayed the same: I still craved Cheerios.

Since I’m a lean, athletic person, and since my pants still fit, I figured I was doing okay. What didn’t occur to me until recently is that “okay” isn’t all life has to offer. I was settling for so-so health, when unbeknownst to me, awesome energy was still a viable option.

Allowing for Awesome

A visit to the nutrition specialists at Ageless Living helped me realize that with a few small changes, I could jump-start my health, stabilize my energy level throughout the day, and even improve my overall mood. All it involved was listening, learning, and applying a few new habits.

“If you include some protein with every meal, that will really help you avoid crashing in the afternoon,” my nutritionist explained, handing me a list of breakfast options that looked surprisingly manageable. “A La Portuguese,” for example, includes two poached eggs, an ounce of prosciutto, 8 cashews and 18 grapes. I could prepare this in under ten minutes – a crucial consideration when running a household filled with children three and under. Or how about an “Apple Pie Shake”? Just throw one scoop of vanilla protein powder, a cup of unsweetened almond milk, half an apple, a tablespoon of nut butter and a dash of cinnamon into your blender, and savour your dessert for breakfast. I could do this.

A glance at the food diary I’d prepared for our meeting spelled out a glaring reality: I was basically spiking my energy repeatedly throughout the day, only to watch it crash and burn. That peanut butter sandwich on French bread I’d devour at lunch (washed down with a refreshing glass of orange juice) would add some pep to my step. But within about twenty minutes, I’d be scanning the office for somewhere to nap inconspicuously. Then there was the bowl of comfort-food Shreddies I’d enjoy at breakfast with a cup of coffee. Or those Triscuits I’d nibble before rushing off to a 3pm meeting that required me to be awake. Each time I consumed empty carbs, it was a “quick fix” to get me from that moment to the next “fix” an hour or two later. The pattern was entrenched, and seeing it on paper was a highly effective way of coming to terms with it.

Don’t get me wrong: I ate plenty of vegetables, and my dinners usually consisted of a lean piece of chicken or fish coupled with lots of greenery. Kale, even. That’s how I deluded myself into thinking I was thriving. But the rest of my meals needed a tweak.

Just because you’re maintaining a decent weight, it turns out, doesn’t mean you’re optimally healthy.

 

 

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