Diets Part 2... If Not A Diet Then What?
As was mentioned last week, in my humble opinion diets suck...
And hey that's all well and good, but what does it mean? What now? What steps do we take moving forward if diets are out of the question?
I'm glad you asked! My answer to that is listen to your gut. Both figuratively and literally.
Your body is constantly telling you what it likes and what it doesn't. This can come in many forms, and as each body is different there's always different things to look out for, but here are a few ideas:
- Your body is energized vs. lethargic
- You have a wonderfully restful nights sleep and wake feeling refreshed vs. tossing and turning waking feeling like you're still tired
- Your gut is moving regularly (as in you're having a B.M. every day) vs. being constipated
- Your stool is normal shape and consistency vs. diarrhea
- Your belly feels great vs. being bloated or uncomfortable
- Your moods are regular and make sense vs. being moody, grumpy or unpredictable
- Your skin is clear vs. having oily patches or acne
- So much more!
You are the best and only person who should have the authority to say what feels good in your body. Some people will function better with a high amount of complex carbohydrates. Others do much better with lots of healthy fats or proteins. Some bodies thrive wholly on plant-based foods while others seem to feel better incorporating some animal products.
We are all unique and thrive being fueled by different things, so it's super important to listen and experiment!
I highly recommend everyone does a mini study on themselves and records their observations.
One option is to eat how you normally do, keep a food journal and make observations about your physical body and emotional state throughout the day. Then perhaps try to incorporate more whole foods and reduce your processed foods and do the same thing. Cut out animal foods for few days and do the same thing. Add lots of healthy fats. You get the idea! The whole point is to study yourself. Your own body, your own feelings, your own reactions.
Another option to find what works well for your body is to participate in a gentle cleanse. This has a bit more structure and is often led by a professional, which take much of the guess work out of the process. Eat all whole, nourishing foods and cut out all of the common irritants (gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc.) then one by one slowly add them back in and observe how you feel.
This is the exact way I found out that gluten makes me bloated, tired and constipated (TMI I know...) and that dairy makes me mucousy and makes my allergies flare up. Sounds like it's too simple, but trust me you don't know what works and what doesn't until you get really curious and make conscious observations!
Once you've gone through this process and figured what specific foods feel good to you, you want to be intuitive about your hunger. What I mean by that is eat when you're actually physically hungry. Often people eat for reasons other than true physical hunger. Emotional reasons such as numbing or dealing with stress, social situations where everyone else is eating too, or just plain boredom. Notice WHY you're eating and if you're not truly hungry then satisfy that particular need with a nourishing activity! This is where self care will become your best friend. Go for a walk, move your body, take a bubble bath or talk to a friend. Do something to curb that craving that doesn't have anything to do with food!
And when you are eating for truly physical reasons, slow it down. The average person chews only 3-4 times per bite and many people finish a meal in under 10 minutes. Ideally each bite of food should be chewed 20-30 times. Your teeth are meant to pulverize your food and mix it with saliva to start digestion. This will automatically slow you down! And make each meal last for 20 minutes. Set a timer then sit down to a nice plate of food. Chew slowly. Notice each bite and what it looks and smells like. The texture. The emotions you have attached to that type of food. Perhaps it reminds you of your childhood or a happy memory? Eat with all of your senses and me mindful of each bite.
In conclusion, we want to find out what feels good to eat in your unique body and focus on that. This doesn't mean cut out all "junk" food or foods that you deem to be non-diet foods. Remember, this is NOT a diet! We don't want to restrict or give rules. What we do want to do is add in so many good, healthy, nourishing options that you naturally over time faze out the unhealthy foods. Those foods that make you bloated and tired. That decrease your quality of life and your vibrance. As those naturally go down and you start feeling better and better, it only makes sense that the cycle will continue! Plus we want to eat for true hunger and slow it down. Be mindful of each bite and eat with all of your senses. Enjoy food for the fact that it's sustaining your body. You are literally, on a cellular level, made of the food you eat, so be grateful for it and give your food some love!
Eat to feel good. Listen. Prioritize mindfulness around meals and being present in your body.
Once you realize how good your body is meant to feel, you'll never run back to a prescribed diet ever again!
Here's to your health!
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