You Are What You Consume

by Jen Slayden on · 37 comments

You are what you eat!  mom would exclaim at random times when I was a child. I didn’t understand what she meant, really. I had visuals of becoming a huge head of broccoli and wondered if that was the reason my eyes sometimes had a tint of green flickering among the brown. I wasn’t allowed chocolate very often, but I did eat my fair share of carob chips. I can’t stand them to this day! To be honest with you, it scared me to death to think I could become what I ate: broccoli, or chicken, or worse yet, a PIG! Talk about playground mockery in the making!

But there is now something about that statement that makes sense to me as an adult, although I would modify it to reflect my life now:

You are what you consume!

So the question is, what do you consume? In a world full of negative media, unrealistic expectations, and never-ending violence, what do you choose to consume? That which is most accessible? Or the more hard-to find diamonds of positive gems hidden underneath the hard surface of the rocky times in which we live?

Picture your life being an all-you-can-eat buffet, where you have the ability to set before you a plate of positive and nourishing items, or the sometimes more accessible like the junk food at your fingertips.

In my own life I am presented daily with a smorgasbord of choices starting the moment I get up. What am I going to feed my family for breakfast– cheery Cheerios, or madmom muffins? Seriously, some days I wonder why I was awarded the title Mom. It seems hard to get out of bed, especially because the sun isn’t cooperating as it hides behind clouds loaded heavy with rain and snow, so how can I be cheery, after all? Believe it or not, I can. So can you.

Choose mindfully.

Just like your body needs to detoxify from sugar if you indulge too much (research now supports the facts that too much sugar has a severe negative effect on your physical and emotional wellbeing), your mind can also overcome the effects of negative media and negative consumption. It takes practice and patience, just like making food choices, but the results will be gratifying and remarkable.

A new pyramid…. 

For years the United States Department of Agriculture used a food pyramid to guide consumers about what food choices they should make. As time evolved, so did the USDA, realizing that not one diet fits all. So they changed the pyramid, and most recently rolled out a brand new program called MY PLATE.


Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The image allows the consumer to think carefully about what they should be eating.

Do you see how the food plate now is shaped just like the wheel of life? In my mind, this is progress. For the balance of nutritious food fits so perfectly with the balance of a nutritious life. 

I will relate the new MY PLATE image to the wheel of life focusing on friends and family.

FRUIT: 

In diet, fruits are full of natural sugar and can help protect you from chronic disease.

In life, being around friends and family that are sweet can give you a huge boost in your mood. Research suggests being around positive people increases your emotional health and leads to a longer lifespan!

VEGETABLES:

In diet, veggies are typically more savory than sweet, and many different types should be consumed to get a good mix of nutrients that your body needs.

In life, it is important to be open to many different types of friendships. Some of the closest friends I have to this day were ones that would have surprised me years ago. By being open and receptive to diversity, my best friendships are an eclectic group that includes young and old,  poor and rich, face-to-face or on-line, gay or straight, diploma or not, religious and agnostic, and married or single.  I have been truly blessed by the richness and perspectives of these savvy (and savory) friendships.

PROTEIN:

In diet, protein can be found in meat, nuts, eggs and cheeses to name a few. Protein is vital for providing energy and nutrition.

In life, my family and friendships provide me with energy to continue to do what I love. When I feel low, or have a lack of energy, I know it is time to speak with one of my various friends who will feed me the motivation, energy and ideas to get back on track.

GRAINS: 

In diet, grains are a good source of  important vitamins and minerals and a major source of complex carbohydrates. They can be found in whole foods like whole-grain pasta, quinoa, and brown rice.

In life, my friendships and family members that have more complex personalities not only teach me to educate myself well, they also teach me patience and tolerance. Sometimes I see people in my family or social circles going “against the grain” but recognize that life demands that every so often we MUST go against the norm to grow into who we are to become.

DAIRY: 

In diet, dairy is a great source of calcium. But what about people who are lactose intolerant?  They are led to find other options of receiving the calcium and vitamins through other foods.

In life, I turn to my friends and family when I need to find a new solution. My family can clarify when I need to explore a new idea. My friends help me recognize so very often how there are other ways– other options.

You are what you consume.

So tell me, what is on YOUR plate? Are you consuming what you need to in your life and passing over the unhealthy choices? I know that I have the power and the choice to be mindful and although it is sometimes a struggle, I try to choose well. How about you?


by Jen Slayden

Jen Slayden finds her harmony in Western Montana with her husband Mark, their three kids, and an outdoor loving black lab named Cody. Stop by and check out her life in music, words, and education at Find Your Harmony.
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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn November 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

I like the “choose mindfully” suggestion and the analogies between food and life events.

When I returned to college a few years to complete my degree, I took an elective course in Nutrition during the summer. We tracked our food and plotted it on the food pyramid. Mine was heavily weighted toward vegetables – my favorite. It was interesting to see how others’ pyramids looked.

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:13 am

Hi Lynn,
I took a nutrition class in college as well. The subject has always fascinated me! Good for you on your veggie pyramid! I love veggies and fruits too, although this time of year constantly presents a challenge….starting with the kids trick-or-treat baskets! I don’t keep sweets in the house, but when they are there…oh boy!

Yes, there are wonderful parallels between food and life.
Thanks for stopping by!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Jenna November 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

In early childhood we call it ‘intentionality’ and I find it a challenging but remarkably important concept. This is a great piece and it reminds me of my morning.
I walked the four blocks from my parking space to the office in the dark. On an empty lot a man stood in the pit of a newly dug foundation. I couldn’t see his face just a darkened form standing beside his machinery. He looked up and yelled a cheery “Good morning!” as I passed. It absolutle made my day-just a little cheer from a stranger. I choose mindfully to have a positive outlook today. Thanks for the post and inspiration!

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:16 am

Jenna,
I love your story! Isn’t it amazing how one simple comment can create a completely different start to your day!? I want to give that guy a big hug!

Thank you for sharing the knowledge about intentionality. How awesome that the concept is created in early childhood….a great time to start positive habits for life!
Thanks Jenna.
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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suzen November 4, 2011 at 11:43 am

Lovely comparisons – diet and life. As a nutritional counselor (food coach) the USDA food pyramid, while improved, still has a long way to go! What I’ve found out thru schooling, research and working with people, we are not one size fits all in terms of nutrition at all! I’ve had many clients who improved their health tremendously by eliminating grains, others with dairy. People with cancer, or any inflammatory disease should avoid most fruit. Point is, the pyramid is really pretty worthless for individual nutritional needs.
Susan

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:21 am

Suzen,
I am so happy you stopped by and offered more information! I had no idea about the link between cancer and not eating fruit. That would be so hard for me!

You are right..in diet, in life….not one size fits all. But the important thing is that people are becoming more aware of eating natural, organic and healthy foods. I LOVE how the White House now has a garden. Leading by example…..what we all need to do for the children.
Thanks Suzen!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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sheila November 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I always thought the old Pyramid was dumb. The “bad stuff” was at the TOP! lol We try hard here to eat healthy but are by no means there. We’ve eliminated pop/soda a couple years ago and that is great! Still too many snacks.

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:23 am

Hi Sheila,
Maybe that is why I had such a sweet tooth in my 20s? I’ll blame it on the pyramid!
Good for you for eliminating pop! That is such a difficult one for so many. I have never been a huge soda drinker, but every once in a while when I need a jumpstart in the afternoon I will have one. I guess it is all about moderation, huh?
Love and harmony,
Jen ?

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Jennifer November 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm

This food plan makes much more sense to me, both visually and nutritionally. Like Jenna, I appreciate the notion of mindfulness, in what we eat as well as every day. Thanks, Jas!

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:24 am

Jennifer,
YES! Mindfulness. Every single day! Thanks for being a part of reminding ME of this too, friend!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Justin | Mazzastick November 5, 2011 at 8:03 am

Hi Jen,
My diet consists of “whole foods” and lots of alkalizing vegetables. I do have my moments when I eat sugary sweet delights but not too often these days.

As far as media goes, I seldom watch TV and when I do they are either movies or a few TV shows that I actually watch. I DVR them so I can fast forward the commercials.

I plant a 20’x30″ vegetable garden every year so I get plenty of fresh and organic produce right outside of my back door.

PS. Comment Luv is not working.

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:32 am

Hi Justin,
I love your example of consuming little TV and Lots of good food!

We also garden, and have gotten way more into composting and expanding into fruit trees and more veggies right out our backyard. In fact, currently, I am watching a mule deer snack on my asparagus bed….but I am being nice about it since it is the end of our short growing season!

PS..I let Lance know about Comment Luv….Thanks for letting us know!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Lance Ekum November 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Justin,
Thanks for the heads up on Comment Luv. I’ve currently disabled it on my site, until I can figure out why it’s not working.

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Holly Latty-Mann November 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

Jen and everyone who responded – thanks for the unique holistic perspective on that which we consume. I had not thought of all the corollaries between the two (like there are picky eaters as well as those “picky” about relationships . . . in the less-than-positive sense of judgmental and critical). And wasn’t that nice about the man who called out with a cheerful voice to Jenna (it occurred to me that he may have wanted to assure her that she was safe from harm)! Enjoy your weekend, all! Holly

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:33 am

Holly,
Thanks so much for joining in the discussion, and bringing your perspective!
Yes, I love all the different aspects and views everyone comes to share.
Much love and Harmony to you this weekend!
Jen ?

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Debbie @ Happy Maker November 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Great way to explain the balance that we need in our life. Some of the foods we don’t like can help make us stronger. that is like someone the people that cross our path in life, we may not like them to much, but in the end we come out a better and stronger person.

Great way to get through to people. Feed the mind with positive and it will thrive like the heart does when feed with good food.
Blessing to you,
Debbie

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Jen November 6, 2011 at 8:37 am

“Feed the mind with positive and it will thrive like the heart does when feed with good food.”

A WONDERFUL line, Debbie! Thanks for sharing and blessings to you!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Mads Singers November 6, 2011 at 4:51 am

Since i moved to the UK i have learned why the healthy eating I take for granted is very different in other countries – look at the UK food culture…. it’s at the best CRAP…

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KenWert@MeanttobeHappy November 6, 2011 at 8:22 am

Hi Jen!

What a creative way to illustrate a healthier way to live. We are what we eat and we are what we consume. So much garbage is consumed on both counts. So many people around the world eat so much junk and watch and listen to so much junk. It’s no wonder so many walk around zombie-like.

I really enjoyed this read, Jen. There are nutrients for the body and there are nutrients for the soul.

Thanks for the post!

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 8:53 am

Hi Ken!
Thanks for stopping by. Yes…zombie-like! That is a good description. It brings to mind some of the kids I work with that have parents that model too much TV watching and not enough exercise. It frustrates me because as adults we need to be showing the next generation…who has SO many distractions, the value of engaging in good health, less sugar, less media.

It is an uphill battle.
Sure appreciate your thoughts!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Harleena Singh November 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

That was an awesome comparison Jens!

To be able to relate the food we eat to the friends and family surely is awesome. I would always prefer to go for a little bit of everything as that keeps us healthy overall. So, my plate would have a little of all kind of foods. You do need a little bit of spice in life for which you can eat a little bit of other kind of foods as well!!

Thanks for sharing 🙂

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 8:54 am

Spice indeed! I like that. And I love spicy foods. You are right about the balance. It keeps life entertaining and fun too.
Thanks so much Harleena!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Jimmy November 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Hi Jen,

The metaphor of a buffet for life is a great one. Everyday, we are presented with the most complete buffet of life. The news that we read, the television programs we view, the people we meet, the books we read, the work we do, the love we give and take all around us, and of course the food we eat. It really up to us to decide and choose what we want. But seriously do we choose consciously or unconsciously? How many of us think about the daily things we do, eat or give? Many decisions come to us without us even knowing. This is where the trap is if our habits have not been wisely formed. We are what we eat. Become conscious of what we take in and we can see the radical changes we want.

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 8:56 am

Hi Jimmy,
You raise a good point about the habits. It really can be a trap if we have formed bad habits and are acting unconsciously. By bringing awareness even to that we can start making better choices in that buffet of life, right?

Thanks so much, as always, for your contribution here. Have a wonderful week!
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Cathy | Treatment Talk November 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Hi Jen,

I loved how you compared the food of life to family and friends – very clever! I agree that what we consume in all aspects of life has an affect on us in a positive or negative way. I appreciate the push these days to eat better, which is wonderful and will benefit us all. Surrounding ourselves with a positive environment keeps us healthy.

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 8:58 am

Hi Cathy,
I really do think we are at the pinnacle of change in our society, about how we eat, how we grow food, how we feed our youth in the public schools, etc. I am so glad, as well, that there is growing awareness. Awareness breeds more awareness in other areas, too…don’t you think?

Thanks so much for being here Cathy.
Love and Harmony,
Jen ?

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Tess The Bold Life November 7, 2011 at 2:34 am

Lance,
I need to clean up my act in more ways that one;) I tried on my dress that I wore to my neice’s wedding two years ago and it doesn’t fit. My plan was to wear it to my daughter’s wedding in a month. Yikes. I have 4 short weeks to clean up my act. It’s funny how without this dress I would have stayed in denial~

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 8:59 am

Hi Tess,

Wishing you a “dress for success!” xo and Harmony,
Jen ?

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Rochelle November 7, 2011 at 5:53 am

Well put and great way you used our diet to compare things in our life like friends and family. I enjoyed reading this, Thanks for posting it. I look forward to more.

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

And thank YOU, Rochelle for stopping by! I appreciate you being here!
In Harmony,
Jen

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Tanya November 7, 2011 at 8:04 am

DELICIOUS metaphor, Jen. Bravo!!

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Jen November 7, 2011 at 9:00 am

Tanya,
and a wonderful, edible response to you:)
In Harmony,
Jen ?

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Betsy at Zen Mama November 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

Very good points Jen! Great to see the new food recommendations as well. I’ve read how important it is to have texture with your food as well, like something crunchy in your soup and different things in a salad like croutons and hardboiled eggs. When you have different textures that also satisfies something in you. And mindfulness is so important!!
Very well written!

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Jen November 9, 2011 at 7:58 am

Hi Betsy!
I love that idea of having CRUNCHY! You bring up a good point about texture. My kids won’t eat certain foods because of that….too “slimy”, etc!

But I can certainly see how that could keep eating more interesting and satisfy different areas of the brain! I am starting my spinach routine every morning…..in the winter it especially helps me to start off the day eating something healthy, since I tend to enjoy the holiday sweets!
Thanks for stopping by.
In Harmony,
Jen

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Andrew Fount November 8, 2011 at 1:41 am

I absolutely agree with the article. Sometimes I also write health-related article and even wrote an article with the same title 🙂 You can find it on my web site if you want.

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Ginger June 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

So MyPlate turned two years just a few days ago. I think the plate model is practical, but a food pyramid looks much better and more fun to intereact with.
Ginger´s Last Fabulous Post ..Solving childhood obesity with the “Let’s Move!” Campaign?My Profile

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