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Food First

You ARE what you eat!

Once upon a time in my life when I needed to make a big decision, I received an important lesson that went something like, “Remember to make choices that support the best version of you.”

Hmmm… what does the best version of me look like? What does she feel like? What does she do when the road is bumpy and energy and time are spread so thin?

It took a while for me to figure out exactly who that Best Version is, but now when faced with a choice, it is usually very clear how to support that best version of myself.

Those “choices” can be big, like deciding whether to quit a job or a relationship or finally asking for help. Or, they can be small like avoiding the stinky laundry soap aisle at the grocery store, being in bed before 11 pm, saying no to another obligation, or the constant decisions about what goes in my mouth.

The psychology of your relationship to food is complex, with many important contributing factors acquired along the way. Some questions to ponder:

  • As a kid, were you a picky eater OR an adventurous one?
  • Do you like most foods OR have a laundry list of NO Foods?
  • Was/is food plentiful OR scarce? What about access to fresh food?
  • Did your family have a garden? Do you have one now?
  • Do you eat whatever you want OR are you usually following one rigid diet or another?
  • Did you learn to cook from a loving relative showing you how to use a sharp knife OR have you learned along the way by following instructions on one box at a time?
  • Do you plan meals OR plan your driving route via your favorite fast-food stop?
  • When you consider the ingredients in your meals, are they things you mostly recognize OR mostly can’t pronounce?
  • Do you listen to your body’s hunger cues OR do you just try to ignore the pangs?
  • Does food = nourishment, family, celebration, guilt, OR something else?

We all know that food is critical for us to survive, but it can also be the single most important factor in our ability to thrive. It’s true: You Are What You Eat. Food provides building blocks for everything, including energy, vitality, and well-being. No food, no fun!

There are plenty of opinions about WHEN to eat: Eat as soon as you wake up, eat every two hours, consolidate your “feeding window” to 8 hours/day, etc.  There’s no shortage of advice about what never to do either: never skip breakfast, never skip a meal, never eat after 6 p.m., never eat at night… Sigh.

We are also encouraged to think hard about WHY we are putting something in our pie-holes:  Am I Hungry? Tired? Angry? Anxious? Lonely? Bored? Or, does that food just smell great and we WANT some right now because it’s delicious??

You have BRAINS in your HEAD.
You have FEET in your SHOES.
You can STEER yourself in any
DIRECTION you CHOOSE!

Dr. Suess

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

HOW we eat is important too. Sitting down to a meal is preferable to inhaling food like a boa constrictor while standing in front of the sink. Taking a deep breath and experiencing a little gratitude for what’s on your plate literally as well as “what’s on your plate” figuratively in life is also a great practice. Using a placemat and a favorite dish only takes a minute!

Chewing food completely adds to the sense of satiety and slows down the pace of eating, which is conducive to eating fewer calories and STILL being satisfied. Chewing also breaks down your food into the tiny particles required by your digestive tract for optimal absorption of nutrients. Eating meals with someone you love (or at least a view you enjoy, but not a screen!) can also add a sense of satisfaction and well-being. You’re worth it!

Of course, WHAT we eat is really at the core of food choices. In general, the closer to Mother Nature, the better. This means no or minimal processing, organic when possible, non-GMO ingredients that you can pronounce (and that your Grandmother would recognize), no added sugar, enough protein, lots of natural color and fiber, and “good fats” like avocado, olive oil, ghee, and nuts.

Confused about what type of food choices support the best version of you?

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