The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Would you fuel your brand new Ferrari with French fry grease?

Written by
Tonya Gutch, MS
Posted in
Eat better

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I hope this title grabbed your attention and made you start thinking about how you fuel the most finely tuned piece of precision machinery you own—YOUR BODY.

As I was fueling my car at the gas station yesterday, I started looking at all of the other customers around me and I noticed something. Most of them were putting premium high-grade gas in their cars but putting high calorie junk in their bodies. One by one they came out of the store with high calorie drinks, candy, hot dogs, pastries and the like!  I began to ask myself, “Why do people fuel their cars better than their own bodies?  Why have our eating habits become so poor? Why has fast food and high calorie snacks become such a common choice?”

I know we are all extremely busy with different schedules and we all have different eating habits and enjoy different types of foods, but substituting healthier food alternatives is something everyone can strive to do.  Take it one snack or meal at a time.  All of us can look for ways to fit healthier, lower-calorie eating choices into our daily routines. “All foods can fit” into a healthy nutrition plan but making healthier choices most of the time and controlling our portion sizes can go a long way towards fueling our bodies better.

To give you a jump-start to healthier alternatives, consider the following suggestions.

Current Habit:  Visit the snack machine to relieve that mid-afternoon fatigue/hunger. Healthy Alternative:  Keep healthy, low calorie snacks in your office, in your car or in your bag/purse.

Current Habit:  Go to drive-thru fast food restaurant for a snack or lunch on the run. Healthy Alternative:  Plan ahead and pack your own snack or lunch.

Current Habit:  Open a big bag of potato chips and eat until you are stuffed. Healthy Alternative:  Buy individual serving sizes or measure out your portions. (Always read the serving size amount in the nutritional information on the package.)

Current Habit:  Choose to eat a high calorie food to relieve stress. Healthy Alternative:  Go for a walk or put your headphones on and listen to music while you dance.

Current Habit:  Choose a candy bar or any type of candy for a quick snack. Healthy Alternative:  Choose a piece of fruit and a slice of cheese.

The first step to healthier eating is to examine your common eating patterns and identify choices that are keeping you from meeting your healthy eating goals.  Next, think of a healthy alternative. Once you have some plans and options thought out, try substituting one current eating pattern with a healthier alternative.  Give it a try for a week and then work on another one. The skill of substituting healthier alternatives tends to be quite efficient and effective because it is almost as if you are “killing two birds with one stone”—getting rid of an unhealthy behavior and engaging in a healthy one both at the same time! And remember you get to decide how to implement it based on the way you live your life. So give it a try. We only get one body so we might as well take care of it! Fuel it right!