Food, Glorious Food

Every move you make and every thought that passes through your head is fueled at least in part by what you eat. Without nutrition, or the process by which the body takes food and turns it into muscle and energy and everything else we need, humanity couldn’t function.

Nutrition is obviously an important part of biology and physiology, which look at the literal, physical impacts of food on the body, but it also requires some knowledge of psychology and anthropology, or how people and cultures think. What we eat hasn’t always been decided by what we need but what we want, what we can afford, or just what’s available in our society.

A proper diet is what allows children to grow into healthy adults and enables adults to avoid or at least reduce the risk of developing a whole host of medical conditions as they get older. From heart health and energy levels to concentration and mood, there’s pretty much nothing that can’t improve if you eat right.

So why is it so difficult to get it right? Well, it doesn’t help that every five minutes, there’s a new fad diet that claims to be the magical solution to all your problems. In general, dieting just isn’t an effective way of improving your health (, as tempting as it seems. You may be able to lose some weight temporarily, but it will likely come back as soon as the dieting finishes. In some cases, you may be one of those people whose metabolism just doesn’t let you get skinny, and that’s okay.

Societal pressures have a huge influence on our eating habits. Media, culture, tradition, family and friends can sometimes be much louder voices than science. It can be hard to stick to the most basic facts, that we need a good balance of all nutrients and not too much of any of them. Some form of that advice is what you’ll generally find from every government or public health body, who are generally among the more trustworthy sources.

You also need to be able to focus on your own body, which has its own particular needs and quirks that may not be quite the same as anyone else. There are times in your life that you do need to change your diet, whether it’s because you’re training for a marathon or because you’re pregnant. Different ages have different needs, as do people working in manual labor compared to those of you based in an office. Sometimes you’ll have a medical condition that affects your eating habits, like diabetes.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that good nutrition on its own won’t be enough to guarantee your wellbeing. You need to combine it with the other traits of a healthy lifestyle – plenty of physical activity, good sleep habits, cutting back on smoking and trying to alleviate stress. Just like your diet needs balance, so does your life as a whole. Just don’t let the advice get too overwhelming, and determine what’s best for you.

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