Go Ahead, Eat Spaghetti!
In a recent article series that I wrote about sugar, there were a few comments from community friends who were just sad that not only ‘sweets’ weren’t the best option for our eye health, but also breads, pastas, and rice...which all convert to sugar in our bodies.
Me too, friends. Me too.
Some of us rightfully feel upset about the thought of even attempting to cut back on our favorite foods because...let’s be honest...food brings joy and comfort!
Making conscious decisions
The article I wrote about sugar was not to say that we cannot enjoy the things we love to eat. I just wanted to give information to those interested in how sugar ‘works’ in our bodies, as well as what it ‘does’ to our overall health (and consequently, the health of our eyes).
Today, I’m here to tell you that we don’t have to give up all of the things we love to eat, and that is great news! If we make conscious decisions about what we’re eating, then that is a HUGE step in the right direction for our eye health. There are two ways to maintain healthy eating habits AND still enjoy our food: moderation and substitution.
Making healthier choices
I’ve written a few articles about making healthier choices around the holidays, where I discussed moderation and planning ahead so we can celebrate without blinking an eye (pun intended!).
I’m not giving up my spaghetti
If health is a goal for you when preparing meals, you don’t have to give up your comfort foods! You just may want to consider the ingredients you’re using to prepare the meals.
One of my most favorite meals is spaghetti, y’all! It’s delicious, filling, quick and easy, and my kids will actually eat it. Win, win, win, win! Throw a piece of Italian bread on the side for dunking into the extra sauce and this girl is in heaven!
How can I make the foods I love healthier?
For me, the question isn’t, ‘Am I giving up spaghetti for the health of my eyes?’ The question is, ‘How can I prepare spaghetti (and other meals) for the health of my eyes?’.
Spaghetti isn’t always a super unhealthy thing to eat, but it certainly can be. How you prepare it is everything when it comes to both health and taste! This is the same ‘rule’ for any meals that we prepare. For example, when preparing spaghetti, we could consider the type of pasta we’re using, as well as the type of sauce and any ‘side item’ we eat with it.
Quick Tip: Many canned or jarred sauces from the grocery store are jammed packed with sugar and ‘white’ pasta is a carbohydrate that is processed as sugar in our bodies. On the contrary, spaghetti can be a great way to get eye-healthy nutrients into our bodies, such as whole grains and antioxidant-packed tomatoes!
I urge you to be conscious of those things when looking for healthy alternatives to not only spaghetti, but any other meal you’re preparing.Clearing up a few things firstA few comments I read in my sugar articles that influenced the writing of this article were: ‘Pretty soon we won’t have anything left to eat!’ and ‘Has anyone ever heard of moderation?’. It was then that I realized to some, I might sound more like I’m preaching than helping when writing these articles and want to kind of clear things up.Healthy eating has become a great passion of mine so I might sometimes sound like I’m harping on what not to eat. Please know that I love, love, love food and I am not one that is sitting at home only eating spinach and bananas. Nor am I expecting that from you. That is NOT happening in my home, friends.I’m just here to try to help educate about the importance of our diet for anyone who is seeking that type of help.Finding control over my macular degenerationThis passion of mine is fairly new. I just became aware of the impact that food has on my body in the last ten or so years of my life, as I am getting older and really seeking ways to help protect my eyes from further damage. When I was diagnosed, I needed to find something, ANYTHING, to help me cope. So, I started focusing on my overall health with exercise and new, healthier eating patterns.Eat well, feel wellNot only am I looking out for the health of my eyes, but I’ve also learned over the years that what I eat really impacts the way I feel. ‘Eat well, feel well’ is really a true statement for me. When I eat badly, I feel bad...I sleep poorly, I feel more anxious about...well, everything...I’m sluggish, and just not my best self.Plus, with so little that I can actually control in regards to my macular degeneration and failing eyes, I feel like eating well is one way to gain some control back in regards to preserving my vision.Our diet affects our eyesOur diet absolutely has a big effect on our eyes. Eating well is not something that can make our macular degeneration better overnight, nor can macular degeneration be caused overnight by eating a piece of birthday cake. The damage or preservation of our vision happens over time, with a lifestyle of eating patterns.This is the reason why a healthy lifestyle is so very important to maintaining healthy eyes. Yes, macular degeneration is often hereditary. It is often caused simply because we have the ‘genes’ for it. I am not saying that things like sugar, alone, cause macular degeneration. There are many factors at play.Eating well doesn't fix macular degenerationThough being healthy overall, and eliminating ‘bad for us’ foods does, in fact, have an effect on the health of our eyes, eating well by itself cannot prevent us from getting macular degeneration. Nor, can it cure macular degeneration or reverse the damage already done to our eyes from the disease.Eating well simply allows our eyes to be as healthy as they can. And that, my friends, is a very big deal. I think that is an important distinction when discussing food and macular degeneration.Continue on!Check out the second part of this article series, where I discuss healthier alternatives to our favorite foods that we don’t want to (and don’t have to) give up!Andrea Junge
Do you still drive?