These days, the average magazine stand holds close to 10 different fitness and health publications. Our favorite actresses and models pose on the covers, typically half-naked in some form of fashionable workout gear.
Story spotlights like, “Burn 500 Calories in 45 Minutes” and “Recipes for a Flat Belly Breakfast” encompass the page, making it seem as though what lies inside rivals a woman’s weight loss Bible.
With the pressures that society places on women to be thin, it’s no surprise that these headlines yield a profit. But, what’s more important than dropping weight is living a healthy lifestyle—a key idea that many publications and collegiates are missing.
“Being thin is not the same as being healthy,” says LaurieAnn Scher, nutritionist at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics. “It’s a common misconception that college women have, where any food that is high in fiber, calcium or protein, or is low in calories, gluten free or organic is healthy.”
In an attempt to lose weight, it’s common for people to try and eat more reduced fat, fat-free or diet products. But, these are not always the safest foods on the shelf and contain high levels of aspartame and chemical preservatives.
If you’re looking to improve your overall health, it’s best to avoid these entirely—instead, opting for smaller portion sizes of the healthy, whole foods you love.
“Eat real food, eat everything in moderation and feed yourself well,” says Scher. “These are the easiest ways to start living a healthy lifestyle without too many guidelines.”
Paying attention to giving your body the proper nutrients it deserves is more important than focusing on a specific number of calories to consume daily. Not only are caloric count requirements usually inaccurate, but can lead to increased risks for eating disorders.
“Many people are fat by society’s constructs, but still healthy,” says Scher. “And, in turn, many thin people are not healthy. Women who are praised for being ‘skinny’ may be the farthest things from being physically fit, and they may even restrict their consumption resulting in a body weight that is unhealthfully low.”
Next time you’re tempted to choose the lower calorie option, consider the nutrition facts. How many grams of sugar does this product have? Are the majority of the fats healthy fats or saturated? What ingredients make up the product? These are all important questions to answer before selecting your next snack.
Healthy snack ideas include: one serving of 100 percent whole grain crackers with string cheese, 2 tablespoons of hummus with baby carrots, 1 oz of dry roasted almonds or 6oz of plain Greek yogurt. All are relatively low in natural sugars, have healthy fats in moderation and contain proteins and carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
Placing a higher level of value on eating foods that will feed your body and your soul will produce longer lasting, healthful results. More important than the number on a scale or the size of your jeans, is making a healthy choice based on proper nutrition.
Photo by Shantelle Williams