Let’s get right down to it shall we? Dieting has become the cultural norm. Are you paleo or vegan? Maybe even raw vegan, gluten-free, a calorie counter, weight watcher, clean eater, low carb, low fat, sugar free? The list goes on and on and if by chance you find that one doesn’t work for you, it’s on to the next! The harsh reality is that our diet has become our identity and it’s scary. Nowadays it’s almost out of the ordinary to enjoy a meal with someone who has no dietary restriction or regimen. Let’s face it, being on a diet is trendy, it’s what we do now, call it what you will but even the term “lifestyle change” is just a less a offensive word for diet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly important to honor your body’s medically proven allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, but are we over doing it on precautions and hurting our relationship with food? At what expense have you self diagnosed your gluten intolerance?
There are some definite reasons why you may be struggling with digestive disorders, skin issues, sleep and energy levels. Intestinal permeability aka Leaky Gut Syndrome is the umbrella term that covers just about every digestive or autoimmune deficiency and is worth investigating if you are experiencing symptoms. Essentially, Leaky Gut is when the lining of your stomach has developed tears over time and undigested food particles and toxins can seep through and into your bloodstream causing your immune system to go into attack mode which can lead to allergies and intolerances. Talk about a mess, huh? And then there’s stress, the leading culprit for just about every health qualm. When you are overworked physically, emotionally or mentally, your body overproduces on cortisol, your stress hormone and it can wreak havoc on your immune system, making it sometimes impossible to digest anything and flare up a whole world of nasty symptoms. If your health is suffering, it’s incredibly important to take the necessary steps to getting your gut repaired, and certain foods may need to be eliminated from your diet for temporarily while you supplement and heal and get to the root of your condition.
When you cut out entire food groups for the wrong reasons (without actually needing to) your body is missing out on vital nutrients and in many cases is doing more harm than good. Real food made from fresh, natural, real ingredients actually want to be digested by your body. What even is real food you might ask? Minimally processed, limited ingredient foods (ie: an avocado has one ingredient) Fill up on meals that have multiple one-ingredient foods in them and you are making a huuuuge investment in your health. Things like a big omelet, made with free-range organic eggs, cooked in ghee with tons of veggies and grass fed cheese! Holy yum! And so jam packed with nutrients, leaving you full of energy and satisfaction. Nothing processed or out of a box. Food is nourishment, energy, and even medicine for your entire being. When you are feeding yourself the foods you need, want and dare I say crave (um...chocolate?) you are not only nurturing your body, but your heart. Deprivation can often leave you feeling sad, like your missing out and later cause throwing in the towel and binging on the very foods you were depriving yourself of. Many times you end up feeling so guilty over your splurge, you restrict your self the next day by restricting even more, going on a fast or over exercising to make up for your “bad behavior” as a punishment (and the vicious depriving diet cycle begins again...you see the madness here? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result and diet hopping is doing just that.
Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of the next diet trend, here are some practical, life-giving, SANE things to ask yourself when you are choosing the food you will enjoy:
- Listen to your body. This is about your hunger cues. Are you actually experiencing physical hunger? Is your stomach growling? Feeling tired or foggy brained?
- Eat food you are actually in the mood to eat. This is huge! When you eat a meal because “It’s low calorie” but then leaves you feeling totally unsatisfied and craving cake for the rest of the night, you are not honoring your body’s needs.
- Sit down, slow down and pay attention to the food in front of you. Whether it’s a meal or a snack, give it some attention and even give thanks for it keeping you going. Studies show that chewing your food well actually increases digestion, so shoot for 30x a bite and work your way up from there!
- Emphasize the foods that make your body feel great and indulge mindfully in the not-so-healthy ones that make your soul feel great!
- Get in touch with your self. Self-care is so neglected and so important. Don’t get too caught up in work and life that you forget to check in on how you are doing emotionally.
I know so many people who are just trying to find the diet that just “works for them” but it’s about shifting your perspective. Why not start seeing food differently; food is your friend, your helper, and your ally! Don’t abuse it and it will take care of you. Give food a chance to work for you without labeling them “bad” or “good”. Food is your friend!