Fit Food is a health program for students who want to commit to a healthy lifestyle, eating a balance of healthy foods and doing daily exercise. The health program aims to see the effect of a healthy diet and exercise on teenage students, their attitude, academics, energy, and mental clarity.
Over the past century, science has taken a large roll in nutrition, defining food as its nutrients and vitamins. Processed foods have emerged over quite a short period of time and we are now being advised to eat foods with ingredients that few can pronounce. Unfortunately, these “edible food-like substances” and their excessive consumption, has caused many health problems like obesity, and consequently an increase in illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
What’s ironic is that while we spend an incredible sum of money on healthcare, we could reduce this cost significantly just by changing our diet. We first pay the huge processed foods-manufacturing companies for our “food”–or edible food-like substances, and then we turn around and pay another big fee for medicine and healthcare to counter the bad effects of what we eat.
It’s hard to know exactly what to eat these days with many different diet fads being promoted and then denied or proved ineffective. For example, it was advised at one point for people to stop eating fat altogether and to replace it with carbohydrates, until of course it was proven that we need fats in our diet. However, what’s wrong with following the dietary and health principles followed by our grandparents and past generations? Obesity and health decline only rapidly began in the past 50 years.
If broccoli contains vitamins and nutrients that have proven to be “healthy,” why must we process a Pop Tart and inject some of broccoli’s vitamins into it rather than just eating broccoli? Are Pop Tarts healthy just because there are a bunch of health claims all over the packaging? Where are broccoli’s health claims?
If we were healthy and fit a century ago and have now declined in our health after the creation of such processed foods, shouldn’t we just make the inference that natural foods, what the earth has already yielded us, are what we should be eating? “Yes” is the answer that Fit Food revolves around. This health program encourages people to eat natural foods that have shown to nourish us and be our main source of health. To be honest, a cake made with natural ingredients (preferably fruit) is much better than one processed with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and a bunch of other chemicals no one understands that you buy in the frozen foods section.
The purpose of this commitment is not to decry and sulkily try to resist processed foods, McDonald’s, and sodas. The purpose is to embrace real food–fresh vegetables, energizing protein, refreshing fruits, nuts, grains, and naturally-made sweets that are centered around community for special occasions and culinary pleasure!
The second important factor to Fit Food is exercise! Speaking from personal experience, on weeks when I exercise at least 30 minutes a day, I feel much clearer mentally and am more energized physically. A study done at Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois tested the effect of fitness-based P.E. on students. Students who did exercise right before math and reading classes (bringing their heart rates up to about 185 beats per minute) were at the top of their class by the end of the year. Those in math did about 4 times better than their classmates on standardized tests and those in reading classes read about a half-year ahead of the rest of their class.
A better diet and exercise would solve an incredible number of problems that America is suffering now. With a healthier lifestyle, we could all have a more fulfilling and physically rewarding life. If the Fit Food hypothesis is correct–a healthy diet will improve the academic and social life of teenagers as well as boost their motivation, our attitude and motivation will receive a gust of positive impact!
P.S. I’m happy to have teachers participate as well.
- Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food. New York, New York: The Penguin Group, 2008. Print.
- Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. New York, New York: The Penguin Group, 2009. Print.
- “A physical education in Naperville.” Need to Know. PBS. WNET, New York City, 8 Feb. 2011. Television.