The most important thing you can invest in is yourself and your future. The best way to safeguard that future is by taking care of your body, which more than anything else will help ensure a healthy life. Your body is in many respects a machine, such as a car. In order to operate properly a car requires fuel. The same is true for your body. The fuel your body requires comes in the form of food, and just like how crappy fuel will negatively impact how a car performs, crappy food will prevent your body and, just as importantly, your mind from performing at optimum levels. Below are some ideas about how you can feed your body properly so that it will allow you to perform at your best. This is not to suggest that a healthy lifestyle is achieved solely by consuming healthy and nutritious foods, but it is an enormous part of the process.
Water – Water is the life sustaining substance that all life, whether plant, animal or our planet requires. Without water we wither and die. Commit yourself to avoiding drinks that have sugar and other non-essential and harmful preservatives and instead drink water, abundantly. You should drink half your body weight in water each day with a pounds to ounce ratio of 2:1. It is easy to figure out as long as you know your body weight, so for example if you weigh 100 pounds then you should drink 50 ounces of water a day. that is a minimum of 6 glasses.
Vegetables – Vegetables are a critical source of vitamins and nutrients that we all need. There is a wide variety of vegetables that you need and the best part is that they are all great for you. Everyday you need a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables. You can snack on carrot and celery sticks, eat a salad for dinner and have different veggies in some of the dishes that you eat. A great way to get all of your vegetables is to juice them and drink them down in one glass. Eating the proper amount of vegetables will assist in your performance on the court as well as in the classroom as the vitamins and nutrients in them are essential to the development of your body and your brain.
Fruits – Fruits are another great source of nutrition. The natural sugars, fibers and carbohydrates that are inside of them are infinitely better for you than the processed and preservative rich “foods” found in most corner stores and supermarkets. Like veggies fruits can also be juiced, but it is important to remember that you should only juice your fruits in a machine
that does not eject the pulp or fiber from the fruit. Without that fiber you are really just left with the sugar which mitigates the nutritional advantage that you get when you eat the entire fruit.
Nuts and Seeds and Good Fats – There are a great number of different nuts and seeds which along with being tasty are full of good and healthy fats that your body needs. Like veggies and fruits it is great to enjoy a variety of these and to eat them daily. Avocados are another great source of healthy fats. This country went to war on fats over 40 years ago. The end result of that war has been record numbers of obesity, heart disease, and epidemic levels of diabetes, including more than 50,000 cases per year of juveniles contracting type 2 diabetes, which is the more serious form and which had previously been found almost exclusively in adults. The war we should have waged and which we must now fight is against sugar (more on this below). There is no shortage of reasons why sugar is so bad for you, but the same can not be said of the fats your body requires. Therefore, eat your nuts and seeds and avoid foods that have added sugars to them.
Processed, sugary and fried foods – These need to be avoided as much as possible. Things that have a long list of hard to pronounce 10 syllable words are very often completely devoid of any real nutritional value and usually contain ingredients that can be harmful to your growth and development. Junk food is aptly named because it is just that.
The Importance of Breakfast – It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of a healthy and nutritious breakfast, whether it happens before school or before coming to an A&M clinic. Your body needs to be refueled after a good night sleep and starting your day by giving it what it needs will go a long way in getting your day off to a great start. Foods like oatmeal, eggs, fruit and fruit&veggie smoothies are great examples of foods that will help you as you get your day going.
Importance of Healthy Food after Exercise – When you finish any exercise your body needs to replenish the things it expended during the physical activity. Replacing what has been lost is crucial to the recovery process. When this done correctly you will notice the difference in energy levels very quickly. This is not the time for a gatorade and a bag of chips but rather for some orange slices a banana and a couple of handfuls of nuts and seeds.
There really is no shortage of healthy foods for you to eat. As you get older the responsibility of taking care of yourself will shift more and more onto your shoulders and less and less from your parents. Begin making smart food choices now so that when you are an adult you will be empowered to make decisions which will allow you to live a long and healthy life!