“I’m hungry, but I don’t know what to eat.” Stop. One day, somewhere between the advent of fast food restaurants and vending machines, the word ‘hungry’ lost its meaning. In a society equally obsessed with body image and junk food, it can be hard to find a happy medium. The image expectations and availability of unhealthy food are counter productive.

Over the course of my time at Keene State College I have learned the importance of healthy eating. I encourage anybody to start making healthier choices when it comes to mealtime. The sooner you start a new routine, the quicker it becomes a good habit.

There are no secret tricks to eating healthy. No one diet is best suited for all people. Many healthy lifestyles exist and it is important to determine a diet that works for your body and keeps you feeling good. While there is no ‘perfect diet’, there are a couple of basic things to keep in mind while deciding what to eat. First, I like to imagine what would happen to the food if I left it out on the counter unwrapped for a couple of days. While it seems a silly suggestion, there is some science behind it. Food that spoils – goes bad, gets moldy or browns within a couple days of being opened – is likely to be made up of fresher and more natural ingredients than a food that can sit unchanged for days on end. Try to avoid foods that can be left out for days because if it takes weeks or months for it to spoil, you can only imagine the work your body must do in order to digest it.

The greatest benefit of healthy eating has been the physical effects, and I am not talking about weight loss. For me, choosing a banana over chips or carrots over a donut has actually changed my taste buds. After sticking to a diet primarily consisting of nuts, vegetables, fruit and grains, I have found that my overall attitude is brighter. I no longer spend time sleeping off a stomach ache from too much fried food. Instead, eating healthy provides me with tons of essential nutrients that keep me feeling refreshed and alive.

Healthy eating improves every aspect of your life. The things we eat affect our brain function, skin health and overall mood. When I eat healthy I feel energized and stay full longer than I would if I were fueled with junk food.

Although my diet strategies seem to work for me, it is important to do research and decide on what eating habits are best for you. Some of the first and biggest steps toward eating healthy are simple. Two big problems are soda and sodium. I think we could all stand to try to limit our habit of adding

John Keefe / Equinox Staff

John Keefe / Equinox Staff

salt to already tasty dishes and to eliminate soda from our menu altogether. People often do not realize that food has as much sodium as it does. I personally never reach for a saltshaker, but if you truly feel it is necessary, at least take a bite before sprinkling more salt. One of the struggles I find most common is that people complain that they are thirsty and then drink a sugary liquid that does not help to hydrate them. My best advice is to focus on drinking as much water as possible, as often as you can.

Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and can even make you feel more full. When you think that you feel hungry it is important to pick healthy snacks. One of my strategies is to pick a healthy option. If I decide that I do not feel in the mood to eat it, perhaps I am not as hungry as I had been thinking. Another big problem is eating really late at night. The weekends often provoke me to take the trek to Ramunto’s to chow on some two dollar slices. While it is fun to adventure and participate in the culinary aspects of Keene culture, it is crucial to eat in moderation. Strive to find a healthy ratio of meals you cook yourself with meals you purchase elsewhere Going out to eat is one of the most problematic areas of dieting in this country.

Restaurants serve preposterously sized portions and the variety of dipping sauces available is outrageous. Ask for a to go container when your meal arrives and section it in half right away if the portion is too much, this way you do not feel pressured to eat it all in one sitting. When you begin a new diet, do not become discouraged by early frustrations. The first few days you may feel hungry because you are adjusting to different kinds of foods. You could also experience stomach discomfort when initially reintroducing healthy foods into your body. Oftentimes our digestion is affected by diet changes so do not be worried if your stomach feels funny when you alter your eating habits. Be aware that with time your body will crave these healthy foods and you will be far more adjusted to the flavors of healthy options.

Diets are one of the most complained about topics and I find it sad seeing as we have limitless options of food. Establishing healthy eating patterns early on is very important.

The sooner you adjust to eating natural and healthy things, the sooner your insides will start to sing and your skin will begin to glow. Losing a couple of pounds can be nice, but that is merely one of the amazing benefits of eating a well balanced diet.

Arline Votruba can be contacted at avotruba@kscequinox.com