One of the questions that I’m asked most often when training people or in the clinic is about food, and ‘what should I be eating?!’ Whether it’s about increasing energy levels, to shift some excess or to fuel ourselves for performance…
And firstly I always say that there isn’t a one-size fits all here – whatsoever! It’s why I’ve always been so persuaded by the Ayurvedic model because it stipulates that we’re different (see here if Ayurveda is new to you), that we’re supposed to be different, and that as a consequence we have different dietary (but also lifestyle) needs too…
Navigating challenging relationships
We all know that our ‘relationship’ with food can be a challenging one to navigate. Food is scrummy. (And without being sugar laden too!) It’s also intrinsically tied in with our social lives and it’s often caught up with our hidden lives too…
It can also be a minefield – should I / shouldn’t I, can I / can’t I…what should I / shouldn’t I…?!?!
And so often, there’s nothing about our relationship with food which is actually about food. It might be about something altogether different.
Having traversed the canyon with my own foodie relationship, it’s clear that there are some solid rules of thumb which can go along old way to helping to make positive shifts when it comes to diet. If you’re trying to untangle yourself from some habits which are no longer serving you with your food choices, then here are some gentle, easy guidelines to start off a shift for you…
Choose real and living, whole foods.
Which means, if it grew to be in the state that you found it, or bought it, or choose to eat it, then it’s real, and it lived!
That means that it has some ‘life force’ still locked into it. It means that that food will transfer its life force to nourish your supply of energy.
Because that’s what we’re after isn’t it – more vitality?!
And although you might get full on 3 Weetabix (for weeks, arguably!?!), you’re not getting any magic sprinkled on the top. (Because fine white sugar is not it!)
Essentially, if it’s a whole food – which came in its own wrapper – that’s a good indication that it’s lived a life, lived and breathed and consumed some water and that this will then offer you the same.
What’s more, the less time off the tree or plucked from the plant and therefore less distance that your food has travelled the better. Life force will diminish in time in all food stuffs. It’s not about ‘best before’ dates for the purpose of less-than-covertly promoting consumer spending…it’s about fresh, local, seasonal and above all else vital!
Toast your nuts lightly!
I mean, by all means, do something with the food yourself! Cook it in some way, transform it somehow – but yourself; when you know what else has gone in with it. And lightly…steam your veg, toss your salad and lightly toast your nuts! You get the idea ; ) Retain as much of the good stuff within it, and it will become good stuff within you…
When you start with a whole food – a vegetable, or a fruit let’s say – you benefit from the synergistic effect of the micro-nutrients within that food. That’s why eating an orange is infinitely better for you than having a glass of orange juice. The fibre in the orange will enable the sugars to release more slowly… It won’t spike your system, it won’t give you the instant hit (which contrary to the marketing advocating instant gratification, this is not really what we want. Who really wants to ultimately crash and burn?), it will replenish your system slowly…and if you apply number 3 as well – for longer too!
In brief – sift out processed foods from your cupboards and from your diet.
Choose nutrient-dense foods.
This one is linked to the first. Nutrient dense, whole foods will fill you up for longer. And, along with number 3 – with more satisfaction!
Nutrient-dense foods won’t break down into simple carbohydrates (sugar essentially) the minute they reach your mouth. They’ll release their good stuff slowly and in a controlled way; the way in which keeps your system balanced.
Granted nutrient dense foods can have a high calorific count (but counting calories is not one of the points here. The opposite, in truth… Here it’s about getting in touch with your real needs. If you need a measure though, keep a food diary – I can assure you you’ll start to cut down how much you consume when you see it in black and white day after day…!), but when you apply the all-important point number 3 (I’m getting there!), you won’t need as much. The body will start to balance itself out…
So what is number 3?!
Point number 3 is about conscious consumption…
Stopping to eat. Not eating ‘on the go’, or having a ‘working lunch’, hunched over your desk. It’s about connecting to the process of eating.
It’s about slowing down, chewing for crying out loud (!) savouring the flavours and really forging deliberate time and space for the ritual of eating. You don’t have to say grace, to be grateful for the abundance of food that’s made available to us at this time (if you’re anywhere that you’re able to read this, that is…).
And when you start to apply greater consciousness to the process, I guarantee that you’ll start to make different choices about what you fuel yourself with. You’ll start to feel more satisfaction from your food. You’ll feel more full, more energised, and for longer! You’ll feel replenished; your food will become sustenance, not just the next hit. You’ll start harnessing a powerful relationship with your food rather than stuffing it down. Or stuffing something else down with it…
There’s more about just this here.
Drink plenty. Of water… And choose foods which are themselves full of water: fruits, vegetables…
This one is not rocket science – aren’t we mostly made of water?
Adding in is my favourite rule of foodie fun. Add in the good stuff – sprinkle your dishes with fresh herbs (preferably straight from the garden or a pot!), use spices generously, variously and regularly. Throw some nuts and seeds over your porridge, lavishly layer the olive oil on top of your salad…
Add in the good stuff, often!, and the cumulative effect of plying the body with a wide array of essential micronutrients will show itself – shiny hair, rosy skin, robust nails, swift healing and a vitality which comes from deep within and not from the bottom of your coffee pot…
Eat only when you’re in a good mood. The whole point of eating real and living food is that there is a vibrational quality to the food stuffs. Life is energy after all. We’re all energetic beings…and everything has a vibrational frequency to it.
The vibration of a good mood is so much lighter – higher, if you will – than that of a bad mood. So just don’t imprint the low vibes of a bad mood into the food that you eat….which will, in turn, be turned into the cells of your body.
And while we’re at it, don’t berate yourself if – when! – you reach for something decadent, rich and no doubt wholly unnecessary… For starters, those are particularly low vibes to shower over yourself, and for afters – life is about revelling in the sweet stuff too from time to time…!
But this does bring me to the last point –
Stir in a soupcon of love to your cooking!
Eating is ritualistic. Everything from planning your shop, to choosing healthy looking veg, to taking the time to prepare a meal, to sitting down together with family (and not your phone) and, if I may just offer it out there, blessing your food as you’re cooking (yes, dosing it in those high vibes!) – it’s all based in ritual…
We are supposed to peel our own fruit, not slide off the cellophane or uncan it and arguably we’re supposed to crack our own nuts too! It’s about connectedness, about forging a loving relationship to our food and ourselves with it (which really is the nuts and bolts of difficult relationships with food) and it’s also about delayed gratification…
Granted this concept of ritual has been lost with the crass convenience of mass modernity, but we get to choose how we live! And how we spend our energy, how we attribute our thoughts and the relationships we imbue with our efforts…so why not add in a moment of thanks – that soupcon of love! – into the saucepan while you’re stirring and elevate the vibes of your nutrient-dense meal with a little bit of the real magic… ; )
Bon appetite, and enjoy your meal : )
A Quick Recipe For Healthy Foodie Habits
1 Choose real and living, whole foods
2 Choose nutrient-dense foods
3 Consume consciously
4 Drink plenty of water
5 Add in more of the good stuff!
6 Always eat in a good mood
7 Stir in a soupcon of love to your cooking!
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