When I was in elementary school I had the most wonderful music teacher. She loved what she did and her enthusiasm spread to me so profoundly, that music was my favorite class of the day. She taught us to sing the popular music that we liked; she taught us to dance. Each spring she would choose a musical for us to perform. She directed and produced each one herself, and my favorite was Oliver Twist.
If you don’t already know, Oliver Twist is a tale written by Charles Dickens. It’s about an orphaned boy named Oliver Twist who was mistreated in many ways, including starvation. The musical includes a wonderful song about food which so happens to be called Food, Glorious Food. It was my favorite song to sing and the lyrics are sealed in my long term memory forever.
It is a powerful song because food is powerful. What we eat has such a profound effect on our bodies, both physically and mentally. There is even evidence that when we eat foods rich in sugar, fat, and salt we trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine. Once we experience that dopamine rush we typically want more and more because, hey, who doesn’t like to feel good? The problem is that this reward signal may suppress other natural responses like fullness and satisfaction. A survival instinct becomes an addiction.
Eating too much of the wrong kinds of food can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer. According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of deaths from heart disease and stroke are caused by high blood pressure, tobacco use, elevated cholesterol and low consumption of fruits and vegetables. There is evidence that changing what we eat can slow inflammation or make the body inhospitable to cancer cells. It’s amazing to think that just by changing what we eat, we can prevent, or sometimes reverse disease! Food really is medicine.
I’m not saying you can never eat pizza and hamburgers, because we were given taste buds for a reason. We have just trained our taste buds to prefer pizza and hamburgers over fruits and vegetables all the time. This is where the problem lies. I love food, I love to eat and I love pizza and hamburgers. I also love fruits and vegetables. I don’t have pizza and hamburgers every day, but I do have fruit and vegetables every day. I find the fruits and vegetables that I enjoy and I eat those. If I can find what’s in season, even better because it will be fresher. The fresher your fruits and veggies the more antioxidants and vital nutrients they have to give to you. Look for farmer’s markets, even in the winter, because they will be able to offer the freshest, in-season produce.
Every organ, blood vessel, and cell in our bodies benefits from good food. We begin to see a healthy glow that begins on the inside and radiates outward. Our brains are happier, our bodies are happier, our hair and skin are happier. We give ourselves the chance to increase not only quantity of life but quality as well. And I’ll take quality over quantity every time.
I love to read and I recently read a great book about food. If you are interested: