We've all been exposed to seemingly endless information instructing us what approach will undoubtably save our lives, not to mention keep our skin glowing, ramp up our sex drive, and help us lose that 10 or 15 pounds we've been meaning to get to. And I get it, changing your diet can be exciting, especially once you find out what works for you. And then you want to share. So we are left with a ton information (some great, some not), but here's the problem: It doesn't all work for everyone.
So many of us wind up being confused. Is paleo the way? Maybe vegan this week? What's that new ketogenic thing everyone is talking about? Well, today I'm highlighting 5 ways to eat healthier... no matter who you are and no matter what diet you may or may not subscribe to. No matter if you tolerate dairy, have quit sugar, or think eating meat is a sin. Lets dive in:
- Enjoy your food. Yes, I'm talking about true enjoyment here people. As food has grown into a cheaper and more abundant commodity in our lives, we seem to value it less and use it in a variety of ways that don't have to do with basic nutrition or enjoyment (hello rewards, bribes, suffocating emotions, etc etc) But here's the thing. If you truly enjoyed every bite of food you ate, you probably wouldn't overeat. Because after you have a few (or several) bites of rich chocolate cake or whatever you love, it starts to not taste as exciting. The return on investment diminishes and the flavor isn't as amazing as the first few bites. But often you find yourself continuing to plow through your plate anyway, most of the time because you just aren't paying attention or because you are trying to not pay attention either to your body or something happening outside of yourself. So the next time you think about a meal, have something you will 100 percent enjoy. Pay attention. Savor each bite. And do yourself a favor and enjoy what you are eating. Which brings me to...
- Chew well. Its funny to me that there is so much emphasis put on what type of food we are eating in our culture (and I agree its super important), but there so little discussed around how we eat. I see people eating in their cars all of the time, drive thrus seem to do pretty well, and I wonder what percentage of moms, teenagers, people who have jobs... even sit down to enjoy a meal. Chewing is important people! In order for your body to absorb the nutrients of whatever food you are eating, you need to break down and assimilate those vitamins and minerals. The first step in doing this? Chewing. Digestion starts in your mouth and it seems like these days, we all seem to be swallowing things almost whole. Plus, when you chew your food thoroughly, you naturally slow down and eat less, but enjoy more.
- Eat more simply. I will never forget at the beginning of the green smoothie craze, a co-worker blending together a concoction of fruits, greens, maca, bee pollen, spirulina, coconut, cacao powder, chlorella, coconut oil, hemp seeds, and the lists goes on. I actually don't remember exactly what he was putting in it, but just that it
1. sounded awful and
2. had about 15 ingredients in it.
Now he thought he was being ultra healthy, but I would have to disagree. Now, I know we have a lot of options when it comes to wholesome, fresh food, but we also need to edit what we are putting on our plates, in our blenders, and in our mouths. Our digestive systems become compromised when we try to breakdown so many different foods at once. And when we factor in not chewing or enjoying it... its really not doing you any favor. Even if its raw, organic, and loaded with superfoods. When you are preparing or choosing a meal, edit your choices. Think about what is fresh and what you love and try to keep your ingredients under ten. Your body will spend less energy breaking down your food and trying to figure about how and what to do with it.... and more energy digesting and assimilating the nutrients into your body to support vibrant energy and health. Think simple.
- Pay attention. No one outside of you knows your personal golden ticket to individualized and vibrant health. You know. No one else has the answer. You might find inspiration in books, online, and by seeing what others do to support their health, but they are not you. So don't take any advice as the be all, end all. Instead, focus on paying attention to how you feel before and after meals, what type of exercise is fun + makes you feel great in your body, and create space in your day to just be. By paying attention and trying different approaches, you will learn what supports you to feel great and what leads you down the path of feeling icky. Chose to feel good and be curious about what supports your unique lifestyle and your unique physical composition. Learn what you can, but always pay attention to how food makes you feel and what you enjoy. That is where the true advice lies.
- Stop snacking. Or at least snack less. Seriously. This is a game changer. How many times are you putting something in your mouth? Ideally, you should probably be aiming for less. If we look at almost any culture in our developed world where there is an abundance of food, there are mealtimes that guide us to sit down, chew, enjoy, and take a rest in our day. Constant snacking takes energy and can lead to reduced metabolism, fatigue, imbalance and a host of other problems. Allow your body to rest and reset and stop (or reduce) snacking. Go ahead and give it a try.
And just keep in mind we are all on a path of learning what best suits our bodies and our unique lifestyles. Try to enjoy your food more and worry a bit less. Celebrate your body by starting to implement some of the ideas above and step into your best self. Xo