“You are what you eat” is probably the truest statement you will ever hear regarding your health and habits.
It is not just a metaphor or a modern-time meme that took its essence of it out of context.
It illustrates an important message that everything we consume will eventually reflect on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually.
If you want to know how you can apply this saying to eat better, here’s a list of things you want to know:
- What Does the Saying “You Are What You Eat” Mean Exactly?
- What Is Health?
- The “D” Word: Defining the Word “Diet”
- How to Start Eating Healthy
Eating healthy is a choice you make every day, relying on yourself, rather than the food industry and its marketers. Ready to become a health ninja? Let’s begin.
What Does the Saying “You Are What You Eat” Mean Exactly?
My findings looking into this topic uncovered a truth that will make you rethink your relationship with your body and food.
The health and food industry is filled with many misconceptions about what’s good to eat, fad diets, and advice on what it means to be healthy and eat well.
This may not be immediately obvious or even important to you to know this information right now, but looking at it on a surface level it’s quite a simple and very important formula to know.
Consider this analogy: If you eat bad food, then you’re going to eventually look and feel bad. If you eat good healthy food, then you are going to look and feel great. Plain and simple.
And there is another interesting reason why that formula works the way it does. Let’s look at the crux of the matter and investigate this “You Are What You Eat” thing a little further and dive into some basic science 101.
You need to think of your body as a machine that is constantly regenerating itself to keep all its parts in an optimal peek state of efficiency. It does that by relying on your body’s internal manufacturing plant of cells.
Yes, you read that right, your body has a manufacturing plant of cells that works to replace and renew dead cells. An average adult loses around 300 billion cells every day, and this “cell manufacturing plant” is fuelled by the food that you eat.
If you feed it bad fuel (a.k.a. junk food) It will produce unhealthy or weak cells because of the nature and poor nutrition of your diet.
You can’t eat nutritionless food and expect your body’s “cell manufacturing plant” to run efficiently and produce at its best.
It is equivalent to someone giving you a spoon and asking you to nicely and cleanly attempt to cut a steak in half. I’m sure if you try hard enough you’ll eventually get it cut, but it wouldn’t be clean-cut and it’ll most probably look messy. Your cells would be produced in the same condition.
And how true is the saying?
Let me give you the end conclusion to this just so you don’t get too surprised. It’s just a simple fact and not exactly health advice from anyone.
The simple fact is that…You can’t rely on anyone but yourself, and that is by far the best advice and lesson you’ll get from reading this article.
Surely you’ll get to know all the healthy tips and tricks of eating well, know what things you can consider as healthy everyday food to eat, and even how to prep quick & simple healthy meals on a budget.
You’ll also be getting an awesome cheat sheet list of wholesome foods for you to refer to anytime you want to know what to eat or buy…
But the real takeaway is that you’ll educate yourself and learn about different food diets, and how to differentiate between what is real and reliable advice and what is a fad.
You may be thinking to yourself, “but what do I know about how to be healthy or what to eat? That’s why I’m here, I need advice!”
But be rest assured that by the time you are done reading this article you will have a whole new understanding of what it means to be healthy.
Our goal is to get you to become a health ninja.
With some simple tips and advice, you’ll be able to just glance at items in the grocery aisle and quickly identify what is real wholesome natural food versus fake junk food that is disguised and marketed as “healthy.”
Read on and become more aware and health-conscious about the food you put inside your body, It’ll make a big difference in the long run.
This is something that is not just “theory,” but you will be able to actually feel the difference over time in your everyday life.
Now let’s start and jump right in.
What Is Health?
Let’s first start by removing all the fluff and overanalyzing of food, and let’s talk about a simpler and more realistic definition of “health and healthy food”. Here are a few definitions that we think are great, simple, and deliver the right message:
- “Foods I can eat frequently that give me enough fuel to get through the day AND don’t make my mind and body feel sluggish and slow.”
- Another definition is given by Eric Edmeades, and he says: “Starting to take steps towards improving your health doesn’t mean you need to be worried about cutting out of your diet all kinds of things, it means you just need to worry about getting your needs met. Because when your body is well-nourished, then your body will stop craving nonfunctional foods.”
When you think about it, If you care about feeling happy and living a good life, you will need to connect it to your values.
Well, simply speaking some people value their emotional well-being as a part of their health. Health is not all about your physical body alone.
Most don’t directly make such a connection, but your emotional well-being is connected to how you feel inside out.
When you really enjoy your life, you send this message to your genes: ‘I’m useful,’ ‘I’m valuable,’ ‘I should be here.’— Eric Edmeades
So, when you enjoy your life more, you do a huge amount to your own longevity.
In addition, the World Health Organization gave a definition of health that is still used today,
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” — World Health Organization, 1948
So the word “health” in this context is the complete emotional and physical well-being. With that said, we’ll be covering health from both these angles.
If you care about your physical and mental health, then you’ve come to the right place!
Let’s start now by decrypting and reconstructing the true understanding of that infamous “D” word: ”Diet.”
The “D” Word: Defining the Word “Diet”
Does the word “diet” immediately make you cringe and think of a regimen of bland boring foods for weight loss? If it does, you aren’t alone.
More often than not, the word “diet” is misused in our everyday language. Over the years companies have brainwashed people by marketing the word “diet” to describe low-calorie foods that are meant to help with weight loss.
But there is another more accurate meaning of the word “diet”. It refers to the food and drink a person needs to consume every day to sustain a healthy mental and physical state of being.
“Nutrition involves more than simply eating a “good” diet—it is about nourishment on every level.”
To define diet and understand its true meaning, we’ll need to go back to its original meaning.
I’m sure you’ve even heard your friend at some point saying a sentence like, “yeah I need to lose weight so I’m going on a diet”, or “I’m going to go that paleo diet because my coach says that it’s best for my lifestyle”.
It’s pretty common for somebody to think of a diet as “a temporary change in the way you eat in means of achieving a certain goal”.
That type of thinking is precisely why people often end up in what is called “yo-yo dieting” (going on and off a diet).
Failure to properly commit to these types of diets can leave you feeling emotionally drained and frustrated. In addition, it also takes a physical toll on your body’s health too.
That’s because modern diets don’t adhere to the perfect human diet prescribed for us by evolution.
Scientists know that every living organism on planet Eart has a diet specific to their species.— Eric Edmeades
But somewhere along the way, we forgot about the perfect human diet that evolution has prescribed for us.
So basically, in short, every organism in the world has a particular diet it needs to sustain itself. Ants, elephants, humans, and all organisms have a particular diet specific to their physiology.
Real lasting transformation is not about having to adhere to restrictive and strict rules around food. It’s about changing your relationship and psychology with food.
So now that we know humans have a specific diet naturally assigned to us by nature, let’s explore how you can start eating healthy today by using that very tip!
How to Start Eating Healthy
So we’ve explained the meaning behind the metaphor “you are what you eat”, as well as how you should think about your mind and body’s health sustenance based on your diet.
Naturally, after all this information, the question you are probably pondering is “what should I eat?”
Need not worry because we’ve got you covered.
What foods should you eat every day?
The human diet is not a secret nor is it unattainable. Being healthy shouldn’t be so complicated to follow or understand. If it is, then your doing it wrong.
Go to any good source of health information and you’ll find that doctors, websites, and health nutritionists all generally recommend the same list of healthy foods with some variations.
So we curated a simple and to-the-point list of whole foods. We also included some of the most nutritious vegetables, meat, and grain options that you can easily get a hold of from your local grocery store.
What makes our list special? Well, pretty much nothing on this list is special, and that’s the point of why you should consider following it. It’s simple and based on the universal needs of a human diet.
An easy-to-follow whole foods list (with infographic guide)
Protein (pick one per meal)
- 3.5oz (100g) chicken / turkey
- 3.5oz (100g) pork
- 3.5oz (100g) salmon
- 3.5oz (100g) tuna / sardines
- 2 x medium eggs
- 7oz 200g plain yogurt
- 7oz 200g cottage cheese
- 1oz (30g) cheese
- 3.5oz (100g) tofu / tempeh
- 1 cup cooked soy/edamame
- 1 cup cooked peas
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup cooked beans
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2oz (60g) protein powder
Carbs (pick one per meal)
- ½ cup cooked rice
- 3.5oz (100g) potatoes
- ½ cup cooked oatmeal
- ½ cup cooked pasta
- ½ cup cooked buckwheat
- ½ cup cooked whole grain flour
- ½ cup cooked millet
- ½ cup cooked amaranth
- ½ cup cooked barely
- ½ cup cooked peas
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas
- ½ cup cooked beans
- ½ cup cooked lentils
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup cooked corn
Healthy fats (pick one per meal)
- 1oz (30g) nuts
- 2 tbsp seeds
- 1 tbsp nut or seed butter
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp carob powder
- ½ tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ avocado
Drink (optional, pick one per meal)
- 8oz (240ml) smoothie
- 8oz (240ml) fresh juice
- 8oz (240ml) milk substitute almond / soy / oat / cereal
Instructions: In this meal plan, the majority of your diet will consist of fruits and vegetables as they take up ½ of your plate in every one of your meals.
When you want to get enough protein, add it from the PROTEIN section list. To get a good start to your day, add an item from the CARB list and one more from HEALTHY FATS for energy and good digestion.
And don’t forget to keep you keep your food varied and exciting by mixing and matching items for an optimal healthy meal.
Lastly, any fruit, berries, vegetables, and mushrooms are unlimited but they have to be part of your meal to keep snacking at a minimum.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into understanding more about why you sometimes feel like snacking, check out our related article on The Six Human Hungers that are currently driving your food choices.
Healthy foods to eat every day (choosing pre-packaged foods)
So we provided an easy-to-read and downloadable list of healthy foods to eat guide. You can mix and match whatever you want to create your own simple and healthy balanced meal at any time of the day.
But we didn’t stop here.
We’ve also included valuable tips on how to shop for prepackaged food at the grocery store on your lazy days.
3 secret tips when buying pre-packaged foods
To build healthier habits and start eating well, you’ll need to be mindful of your psychology around everyday food you’ll come across. Not all food that claims to be ‘natural’ is healthy.
So you’ll need to get smarter about shopping and reading food labels at a glance. Here are 3 tips to help you become more mindful about the food you eat.
#1: Watch out for the many names of ‘sugar’
You’ll be shocked to know that food labels use about sixty-five different names of sugar — and many of which you won’t recognize.
Some example names include brown sugar, cane sugar, invert sugar, corn sweetener, dextrin, molasses, and the list goes on.
The bitter truth about sugar is that the food industry got us addicted to it by using conniving and skeevy tactics by adding more than one type of sugar to avoid labeling sugar at the very top of the list.
This fools you into thinking that there is less sugar than actuality.
The best way to avoid being misled by labels on processed foods is to avoid sugars altogether. After all, “you are what you eat”, so think of what you want to fuel your body with.
Sugar triggers appetite, so food manufacturers put it everywhere. Roughly 70% of packaged foods contain some form of sugar, corn syrup, or other refined sweeteners. And we are getting addicted.— Eric Edmeades
#2: Learn the secret behind reading food labels
Ingredients on the back of labels are not listed randomly. Every label is legally required to list ingredients by quantity — from highest to lowest.
So an easy tip to remember when reading food labels is to: keep an eye out for brands that list whole foods in the first top three ingredients and always be suspicious of labels with a really long list of ingredients!
#3: Ignore health claims on packaging
Words like ‘light,’ ‘multigrain,’ and ‘natural.’ Heck, even the word ‘organic‘ has lost its meaning when it comes advertized as a claim on the front of the package. These healthy words are often misleading and you may need to do your homework on that one.
Here’s an example, “multigrain” can sound like it’s healthy, but did you know that it only means that it contains two or more grains? And they are most probably refined (not whole) grains.
All these terms are just marketing tactics designed to mislead and confuse you into thinking that their product is actually healthier than it actually is.
If you decide to buy packaged foods with these tips you’ll at least be able to identify the low-quality products from high-quality products.
A Word to Remember
We’ve created these awesome white papers for you to download for FREE. If you read them along with this article as a guide, it’ll help you become more conscious about the food you eat well as identify the 65 hidden names of sugars in the food you consume.
After all, it’s always important to remember that you are what you eat, and what you consume in the long run will, in turn, result in how you feel and look in the future.
Never neglect your wellbeing. You are the most important thing in the world. Always remember to love yourself, love your body, love your health.