It seems that everyone is trying to eat healthy in order to get in shape for the approaching beach days and pool parties. You may be sitting there wondering why you'd want to turn down some of your favorite not-so-healthy foods if you are not trying to lose any weight.
Well, I used to think about healthy eating this way, too. I used to think the only reason to do so was to lose weight. I had become content with the idea of being overweight forever and that I wasn't meant to be skinny. I was tired all of the time, self-conscious, had skin issues, acid reflux and simply loved to eat. I didn't want to count calories, worry about how many vegetables I had eaten or how processed my food was.
One day, after months of research for a school project on processed food, I realized the things I was feeling could be attributed to the foods I loved so much, so I decided to completely cut them out. After about a month of eating only real food and adding more vegetables to my diet, I felt amazing. All of my previous issues disappeared, and the extra weight I thought I could never lose disappeared, too.
Here are four great effects of choosing healthier, real foods for reasons besides weight loss:
1. Glowing complexion
What you eat and drink directly affects the appearance of your complexion. You may be beach ready, but consuming convenient and processed foods, along with those high in sugar, can wreak havoc on your glow.
You won't have to wait long to see results. Changing your diet to healthier foods can show an almost immediate effect. Whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and high-quality animal products are packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that nourish your skin and provide that radiant glow.
2. Increased energy and better sleep.
A common complaint for those who do not consume a healthy diet (even for those with fit physiques) is fatigue. You might be in this group if you're always ready for a nap and lack energy to be productive. There are two ways an unhealthy diet causes fatigue:
First, it can result in poor sleep, whether it be not enough or poor in quality. Second, without supplying the body with an abundance of nutritious foods, it cannot function at optimum levels. This means that the limited nutrients obtained from food will be spent on keeping you alive, not living life to the fullest.
It must be mentioned that sufficient and quality sleep also contributes to a glowing complexion, so you can experience double benefits by making the switch. If you want to experience what it feels like to have energy for anything without relying on coffee or energy drinks, switching to a whole foods diet might be just what you need.
3. Reduced mood swings and anxiety.
Processed carbohydrates and foods that are high in sugar can cause mood swings and worsen anxiety. It's called a sugar crash for a reason, and some people are prone to crash harder than others.
If you are one of the many anxiety sufferers out there wondering how to not freak out about running an errand or feeling overwhelmed about getting out of bed in the morning, try improving your food choices. This includes reducing your sugar and simple carbohydrate consumption in order to prevent the crashes. You may notice a big difference with more stable moods and less moments of panic.
4. Prevent diseases like Diabetes and Alzheimer's.
When you're young, it's difficult to realize the impact chronic disease has later in life. And it's commonly assumed that getting a chronic disease is inevitable when you're older. This is a massive misconception, and it's becoming increasingly clear that diet and lifestyle habits greatly impact both the risk of developing diseases and the quality of life in later years. There are no guarantees in life, but making healthy choices now is the absolute best thing you can do for prevention and enjoying your days long after your youth.
You don't have to sacrifice the foods you love for health; it's all about balance. Making healthier choices while still enjoying your favorite foods can make a big impact, even if you're not looking to lose weight. Who could say no to better skin, more energy, less anxiety and the best chance at enjoying each day for the rest of your days?
Small changes are the best approach at first, so if you're just starting out, try cutting down on sugary foods and beverages and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Smoothies are a quick and easy way to get in multiple servings in one meal.
Cooking at home with fast and simple recipes (Pinterest is a lifesaver) will help you cut down on processed and low-quality foods, without taking away from your already limited time.