I hate the “D-word”. Diet. I feel like it has such a negative connotation in our society for so many of us that merely the use of the word can negatively impact the body on a subconscious and energetic level. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of this word? For me it is the feeling of disappointment, failure and other negative self-directed thoughts. I know I am not the only person out there that feels this way, which makes me sad. I don’t want to get too much into my thoughts on our culture and media and its affect on our health (that’s a whole other blog post for another day!), but I will say that our thoughts surrounding what we eat and how we feel about what we eat is mainly impacted by the diet industry and its massive media machine. So for the sake of avoiding this word-that-must-not-be-named, let’s call it an “eating philosophy.”
Americans spend north of $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds, as reported by the US News & World Report in January 2013. That is a massive number. Take quick trip down memory lane and think about some D-words you have been on. Did they work? How long did you last before you gave in and gained all or some of that weight back? How did you feel when you were on this diet? Chances are a lot of people have answers to these questions. I certainly do. Yeah they worked for a little while, I felt pretty crappy for most of it and they definitely didn’t last in the long run!
I have been on a bit of a personal journey of late (as discussed in my first blog post) and think I have finally found my true eating philosophy. It’s still a work in progress and some days I fall off the wagon, but isn’t life a work in progress, ever changing and evolving? So too must be the way we eat. And here’s the catch. We are all different. Every single one of us. We all come from different backgrounds, have different activity levels, different jobs, different genetic material, and live in various geographical locations. So why would one way of eating work for everyone? It doesn’t.
Instead you must find what works best for you. Sounds like a pain and time-consuming, but you only get one body and one lifetime, so why not? What do you have to lose? Once you start feeling better, and it won’t take that long, I can guarantee you that you will be a lot more excited. The first thing is to get back in touch with your body. Are you really hungry or is that your mind and emotions talking? How much water are you drinking? Dehydration can also manifest as hunger. How do you feel after eating certain foods? Does your body react negatively to certain things (i.e. digestive issues, heartburn, fatigue, other aches)? Try experimenting and not eating that food for a week or so and see how you feel.
Here are a few things to live by that I have learned from some experience:
- Generally the body enjoys foods grown from nature instead of those processed in a lab.
- Read labels! If you don’t recognize an ingredient on the list, chances are your body won’t either and won’t be able to properly digest it.
- If produce is too expensive for you, supplement some of it with the frozen stuff.
- Buy in season, it is always cheaper.
- Don’t like vegetables? Roast a little in the oven with some olive oil for 30 minutes and put it on top of your favorite pasta.
If you can’t give up that afternoon soda, try upping the amount of water you drink during the day. If you are having trouble kicking processed food (and it is tough, they make it that way), try eating it with some healthy vegetables beforehand. Always crave something sweet after dinner? Try making yourself a heaping bowl of fresh fruit. This concept is called crowding out. Add in the good stuff slowly, meal by meal, nothing too drastic. Even just a few times a week is a great start! You may find that, over time, you are eating less and less of the crappy, artificial stuff.
The most important thing is to go at your own pace, experimenting and finding the types of foods that you enjoy most. If you are goal driven, maybe set some weekly or monthly goals for yourself. If you like to write maybe start a food diary where you write down your thoughts and experiences and how you feel. If you like to experiment and play around, hop on Pinterest and find some fun recipes. Stay positive and try to enjoy yourself. We are all wonderful, individual human beings that are built differently and bring different energies to the world. So embrace your individuality and kick the D-word for good!