Small changes today lead to long-term health

 

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Lynzie Vega, a sophomore at Palo Alto College, grocery shops at her local Walmart. Photo by Alexis D. Vega.

By Alexis D. Vega
Pulse staff reporter

In this fast-paced world, a lunch break means picking up food at the nearest drive-thru. Although it may be convenient, constant fast food consumption causes weight gain and long-term health issues over time.

“I feel more energetic and good about myself when I eat healthy,” said Lynzie Vega, sophomore at Palo Alto College. “When I eat bad, I feel more sluggish.”

Food is meant to be enjoyable, but it is supposed to nourish your body. Whether you are wanting to lose weight, bulk-up or feel more energized, here’s how to be healthier with a few simple changes.

Know Your Calorie Consumption

Are you wanting to lose pounds or are you wanting to maintain your current weight? According to authoritynutrition.com, an average woman should consume about 2,000 calories a day to maintain and 1,500 calories to lose one pound per week. People trying to bulk up are more careful about what they eat. Bodybuilding.com, suggest bulkers should eat things like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lean chicken breast and turkey to gain lean muscle.

Track your Calories

You don’t have to break out your calculator at the end of the day. Cool apps can keep track for you. The app will tell you how many calories you have consumed and what you have to burn off in order to treat yourself to a slice of pie. Calories are key to an effective diet plan. Everything we eat and drink contains calories, everything we do burns calories. When the calories burned are greater than the calories consumed, fat or muscle loss will occur. When your calories consumed is greater than the calories burned, then muscle or fat gain will occur.

When it comes to eating, Ryan Truss, a senior at Texas A&M University – San Antonio, must remind himself that his cravings for chocolate are not worth all the time and effort he puts into his workouts.

“I’ve come so far that I don’t let food distract me,” said Truss, who has lost more than 100 pounds over the past two years.

What to Buy

Preparing your meals ahead of time costs less, and cooking your food means you know what is going into your meal. You can spend about $5.83 for an entire day of eating if you shop smart. To keep within your budget, buy only the necessities.

  • Protein: Chicken, black beans, fish and turkey are commonly purchased items. cookinglight.com has 50 ways to cook chicken breast that will satisfy any appetite.
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and squash are the less costly vegetables. Have no fear in reaching for the frozen brands if you’re tight on money. Frozen veggies are just as nourishing, will last longer and are safer on your body than canned vegetables.
  • Fruit: Be cautious because fruit is high in natural sugars that can overload your body. Fruit is also pricey, depending on the season. Avoid eating fruit at night and don’t over indulge. If you are not looking to save money when it comes to fruit, opt for the frozen organic brands.

What to Avoid

Junk foods like chips, candy and soda should be avoided or very limited. If you’re searching for a naughty snack, reach for some skinny pop corn. This popcorn has about 40 calories per cup and is lightly salted with sea salt. It is not loaded with butter, but it is still a yummy solution to satisfy your craving.

Overall Outlook

Eating a diet rich in protein, vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attacks, strokes, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

“Unhealthy eating can cause heart disease by plaque build-up and cause blood to not flow through your arteries,” said Denise Alonzo, LVN. “Unhealthy eating can become fatal if not taken seriously early on.”

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