When it comes to improving our health, I think the question we ought to be asking ourselves is, “What can I do for myself TODAY to clear my mind, strengthen my body, and nourish my spirit?" I’m not talking about a goal to set for next week or next month. I’m talking about today, maybe even right now. Something I know I can do for myself today is control what I put inside of my body. Remember this thing that makes living possible—my body, my muscles, my organs, my beating heart. My aches, pains, and pleasures—all felt right here, inside. It’s very important to me to take care of my insides, and I can do so by controlling what I put in my body.
I feel as if there’s a lot of talk about what I should and shouldn’t put in my body. I see countless ads trying to seduce my eyes and tempt my mind with things that literally have nothing to do with the food I’m eating. You know the one with overly attractive people in their bathing suits and riding bicycles on a lovely summer day… and then they stop to eat some processed food out of a bag. They advertisers want us to think, “They look so happy and fit. Eating this must be the way!” These ads make me want to slam my palm into my forehead.
Once upon a time, I was highly concerned with the amount of calories I ate and the size of my meals. I’d think to myself, “I can eat fried mac & cheese bites and tater tots as long as the whole thing fits onto this small plate. I’ll take the minis instead of the full portion. I’ll eat the donut holes instead of the donut because they’re smaller and less calories.” Right? I was highly focused on eating a “small” amount or consuming less calories, but totally neglecting the way my body felt after I ate these foods. Spoiler alert: I felt like total garbage. But you know what they say, “you are what you eat!”
Thankfully, I’ve had some significant diet and lifestyle changes since that time, mostly on account of raising my level of awareness from moment to moment. I practice remaining aware of how my body feels at all times, and especially when I am eating food. I ask you to take notice of how your body reacts to what you eat. Even if a food is claimed to be “healthy,” it may not make you feel good, so why eat it?
Here’s a simple exercise you can try: Start a thread in the “notes” tab on your phone and write down what makes you feel great when you eat it and what makes you feel sluggish. If you’re feeling numb and anxious and stressed, remember that those feelings are coming from inside of you and that you control what fuel goes in there. If you’re feeling totally lost on what to eat, best to cut the crap and go back to basics. Eat foods that grow out of the ground. Foods that are nourished from the earth and flourish with the help of water and sunlight. I’m not saying to bite into a raw sweet potato! Cook that sucker up, throw in some black beans, sautéed mushrooms, and sliced avocado on top. Make it a fiesta and sprinkle it with green onions and cilantro. Get creative! There’s lots of yumminess to be had when you cut out processed foods and things that come out of a box or bag.
Please know that I’m not trying to encourage you to limit your diet—that’s up to you! But, I am encouraging you to tune into what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. Wine makes me feel good, and so does chocolate. However, when I have too much wine or too much chocolate, ‘good’ is not what I’m feeling. Eating food is a highly enjoyable part of life and doing so should make us feel wonderful, not heavy and yucky. Start by making your insides feel great, and your thoughts and emotions will surely follow. Ultimately, YOU get to choose what you put inside of your body. Choose foods that work for YOUR body (not somebody else’s) and make you feel good. This may be easier said than done, but it’s a task worth taking.