This weekend, in addition to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I hosted a party for 50 people and attended my 10-year high school reunion. By Saturday night, I'd eaten my fair share of carbs and was craving vegetables.
My pre-reunion dinner was a bag of frozen broccoli topped with an egg and some cheese.
My 16-year-old sister had a friend over, and she gave me a weird look as I dug in to my overflowing bowl of green veg.
"How can you eat so much broccoli?" she asked incredulously.
"Easy," I replied. "If I don't eat enough vegetables, I get cranky after a day or so."
"She does," my mom echoed. "Believe me."
That wasn't always the case.
Back in the day, I fed myself with whatever. Sure, I liked vegetables, but I also liked fast food. I liked whole-wheat bread, but I also liked Nutella or butter smeared on top. I didn't really pay attention to what I ate.
But you know what I did notice? I noticed that I was tired, cranky, stressed and anxious more often than not. When I moved to South Korea and started paying more attention to my diet, I started to feel better.
After I ate that bowl of broccoli, I felt better. And then I started thinking about comfort food. Since adopting a healthy lifestyle, my idea of comfort food has changed drastically. Has it for you? Back in the day, comfort food meant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, giant calzones or pizza, milkshakes, cheesy lasagna, fries dipped in mayo (OK, that's still a guilty pleasure occasionally), burgers with the works.
Now, I'm more likely to reach for a giant bowl of broccoli (topped with a bit of cheese or garlic, olive oil and lemon), black beans and rice with guacamole, roasted sweet potatoes, oatmeal or yogurt and granola when I crave "comfort food."
Before, I dealt with stomach issues, stress, anxiety and overall malaise.
Today, I feel healthier than ever, with more energy and optimism than I had even three years ago. Is it all attributed to my healthy diet? No, but a good portion of it is.
Whole foods: lean protein, fiber- and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grain, and a bit of low-fat dairy fuel my diet. Refined carbs, sugary sweets and caloric beverages are rarely present at mealtime or snacktime.
And I feel great!
Now I want to know how a change in your diet has affected you. How has healthy eating changed your life?
How do you feel when you eat healthy foods? What happens to you when you eat a high-fat meal or load up on empty calories? Is healthy eating still a struggle for you? If not, when and how did it become second nature? What changes have you made at home? Do you cook more than before? What healthy meals are your "go-to" favorites? What does your family think about eating healthier foods?
Eating right can have a powerful effect on our lives. So how has it changed yours?
Share your story in the comments below.
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