As time goes on and societal norms change, the definition of what it means to be healthy also changes. On Sept. 7 Albion College Union Board invited certified nutritionist and creator of blog and brand Eat Cute, Alexandra Catalano, to have a conversation with students and staff about what being healthy should mean.
“Honestly, I like to think about our bodies as a car,” said Catalano. “The better the fuel the better you run.”
Catalano spoke about how there is no specific rulebook on how to be healthy, and just looking at a number on a scale doesn’t help. Instead, health should be about the energy a person feels in relation to the mindful relationship they have with their body.
Most people count calories , but calories are calculated on a fixed system and the body is not a fixed system, Catalano told the audience, suggesting that everyone toss their scales away because they don’t really need them.
“You can weigh yourself if you have specific health goals, but it’s not a good marker for whether you’re getting the results you want,” said Catalano.
Instead of focusing on calories, everyone should focus on the ingredient list when buying a packaged item. Given that there are at least 61 different terms for sugar substances within our food, Catalano’s advice is to stay away from products that list sugar within the first few ingredients.
She also recommended buying local in-season produce for health and environmental efforts.
“Sugar has a huge effect on our brains,” said Catalano. “[Sugar] is a drug. That’s why companies put it in everything, because they know it is so addictive.”
She went on to explain how if a person can’t control their sugar intake, it might be best to stay away from it. Catalano herself has cut sugar out of her diet for the past three years.
“Always consider what is at the end of your fork,” said Catalano. She often reminds people that, whenever they eat something, they should pay attention to how they feel afterwards. Everyone is built differently with what their bodies can digest.
Catalano suggests being flexible with the food that makes up weekly meals. “A pitfall we have is that when we eat something healthy, we just eat the same thing everyday,” said Catalano.
Every visit to the grocery store is an opportunity to try something new. Trying new foods introduces new bacteria to create a diverse gut, which can lead to a healthier immune system.
Catalano also suggests keeping good snacks around to help stay on track in reaching health goals. “Snacks, such as walnuts, are good for your brain,” said Catalano. “Walnuts are shaped like brains, that’s why.”
“Ashwagandha really helps manage stress,” said Catalano. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha is an herb that helps the body manage stress. She also suggests magnesium to help with a better night’s sleep. However, nothing is more important than drinking water, Catalano reminded the audience throughout the discussion.
“When I change my diet, I change my life,” said Catalano.
Being healthy is not a once in awhile choice, it is a lifestyle – one she hopes college students will consider. This is why she wrote Beer Bongs to Broccoli, a humorous guide to avoiding the freshman 15 and losing weight while still in college.