It's not just an old-wives tale, you really are what you eat—and I don't mean that if you eat more sugar you will be a tad more sweet.
You might be thinking, "yes, obviously we are what we eat...why are you writing a blog on this?" It may be obvious, but for the vast majority of us, it isn't apparent enough to make a difference in what we choose to eat and drink.
Our bodies do something with everything we put into it—either use it or waste it. And the body doesn't always waste what it doesn't need to use. Now, most nutrients get "stored" someplace if you don't need them immediately and once the storage facility (liver, cells, etc) is full, that is when you body gets rid of the excess through your waste system. A great example of this is that multivitamin you probably religiously take and then just piss all those expensive micro-nutrients out because hopefully the food you are eating and the stores your body already has provides all the nutrients you need.
How our bodies use carbohydrates is interesting. Remember that carbs are sugar and are needed to produce energy. They are converted to glucose in your liver and any that is not used immediately is primarily stored there as glycogen. What's interesting is that your carb and fat usage are inversely related, meaning that the more carbs your eat, the more carbs your body burns and the less fat your body burns. Yep, that means those fat stores are not getting used on a high carb/high fat diet, which is pretty much what most of us are on. And don't be fooled into thinking a low carb diet is the answer either. You need carbs to produce energy and without energy you won't be able to exercise, play with your children, or even make it through the work day without taking a nap. The key is to find the right balance of fat and carbs for your activity level.
Now let's talk about fat. The excess fat you consume and don't need is stored in your cells. Oh how easy this would all be if our bodies stored our fat in an organ and any excess was just excreted out in our waste. But unless you have certain digestive diseases, this doesn't happen. Excess fat is stored in our cells—and we have a whole lot of cells. This is the problem. We eat way more fat than our body needs to use and it just keeps storing and storing and storing, until one day we can't button our pants. So we go out and buy a larger pant size and eventually we forget that we used to be a size smaller. And then those pants become too tight to button and we go up yet another pant size. We trick ourselves each time with the larger size pant—they aren't tight yet and so you go back for a second helping of dinner or dessert. There are many "fat" skinny people out there as well who are just as unhealthy and likely to have a heart attack at the ripe old age of 50. All those frozen dinners, the fast food burgers we buy our children to get them to stop crying, the processed crackers, cookies and meats—oh and drinking the milk from another mammal past infancy—it's all too much. Things that used to be treats—and which are fine as treats—have become our everyday normal diet.
So you see, none of this is really about your pant size. It's about your body. Whatever divine power you believe in, you have to admit our bodies are amazingly created machines. Fuel them well and they will function beautifully. Fuel them poorly and they start to break down. Obesity is one of the greatest causes of heart disease and many cancers. Don't get me wrong, healthy people get heart disease and cancer as well—genetics are a bitch. However, carrying around all that excess fat in our cells essentially suffocates our organs. And sure, you could take a pill for this and a pill for that and continue to eat your fried scallops. But that is just masking the disease and will lead to others. At what point is enough, enough?
It's time to make a change in how you think about food. Simple food is delicious. The scientists who have created processed sugars and processed foods have reprogramed our taste buds. Luckily, we can program them back to remember how sweet a strawberry tastes, how refreshing cucumber slices taste or—for you meat-eaters out there—how metallic and briney a fresh oyster tastes. Real food is gloriously flavorful. Feed your body to provide fuel and nutrients, instead of feeding it based on food addiction cravings. And don't fool yourself, we are genuinely addicted to processed foods and dairy. Breaking that addiction isn't easy, but it is essential to a healthy body.
You absolutely are what you eat. Really try to wrap your head around that. Instead of thinking of it as a limitation, explore the endless possibilities and just how far real food can take your body.