Being In-Tune with Our Nutritional Needs
With all the knowledge available to us about food comes many conflicting theories that often lead to uncertainty for those of us on the receiving end. Moreover, ideologies about nutrition differ so vastly that it becomes challenging to determine what works and what doesn’t. The perplexing web of confusion perpetuated by social media, magazines, television and advertising causes us to experience major information-overload. Too much information is overwhelming and can lead us as consumers to become despondent in our endeavours to attain wellbeing. Tempting as many of these fad diets may seem, with all their promises of "instant weight-loss", we need to be more holistic in our approach to whatever health related goal we are seeking to achieve. Undergoing a diet "reconstruction"often stems from the desire to lose weight that comes with a high demand for quick results. No matter what end goal our desire to change stems from, the approach we take towards enacting these changes must be mindful, holistic and sustainable. Remember our health is not one sided - we need to take all aspects of our wellbeing into account in order to experience true and lasting results. Health is not a destination but a continuous journey that we must conscientiously work towards throughout our lives.
Our nourishment is fundamental in enabling our physical body to operate optimally. Our nourishment can heal our bodies better than any medicine if we choose to apply our food correctly. A holistic approach to nutrition means reappraising the contents and purpose of food. Food is not just there to provide satiation or to influence the numbers on a scale; rather food is our fuel source that enables our bodies to function. The key here is how well we allow our bodies to function based on the food choices we make.
Our society of today is visually driven, with fixation on appearance becoming more and more prevalent as we continue to modernize. As a result, we all look to diet to assist us in achieving unattainable perfection of the physique. The problem with this is that we can diet and starve all we want to achieve these idealisms, but we will never be able to sustain such prescribed extremities in the long term. Nourishment is so much more than just the product of a 'perfect physical' body, it is what allows our body to function -the fuel to our only home. I can assure you that eating clean, simple, nourishing foods that are as close to their source as possible will provide renewed energy and healing, and as an added bonus, will make our bodies look amazing too. Pollute your body and you will look and feel polluted. Feed your body with wholesome nourishing wholefoods and your body will reward you with abundant energy, vitality and healing. We literally are what we eat…it’s as simple as that!
Never Entertain the Word Diet
...and all the short term quick fix nonsense it comes with.The word diet in all of our vocabularies has negative connotations associated with mental struggles, hunger and cravings. The fact that we perceive the word diet in such a pessimistic light is reason enough never to try one! We also look upon a diet as something temporary, which in itself is a clear indication that we are doomed to fail. So no more diets please!!! This is a diet free zone! Think of your new approach to eating as the nourishment of your body. Nourishment does not have to be complicated and unappealing - rather nourishment should be kept simple and adaptable to what your body needs.
Your body is not a stagnant blob, it is a homeostatic powerhouse that is continuously working towards achieving an internal equilibrium.The nourishment you provide yourself is key to assisting your body in achieving this state of internal equilibrium - sometimes your body may require more of certain food groups than others depending on what it needs. The more often your body is in a state of homeostasis, the better you feel. Therefore, it is your responsibility to take the time to get to know your body so that you are to be able to discern a craving from a true food need, and to provide your body with the nourishment it needs. No one else lives in your body but you therefore the responsibility to understand your body is yours alone.
Building a Positive Relationship with Food
On the surface, talking about having a relationship with food may seem rather bizarre - after all food is not a person so how can we be in a relationship with it? As humans we are in relationships with everything around us - both animate and inanimate objects. A relationship can be defined as our proximity relative to another person/object. Emotively we can be close to a friend or family member,and we can also have a positive or negative perception of a non-living entity that we regularly interact with - a computer, a table, a car, a building, even our food. Our experiences with things directly influence how we perceive them and consequently how we feel about them - that is, they either induce a positive or negative emotion in us.
Food works in exactly the same way. For some, food is an emotional crutch that is turned to during times of stress, anxiety or sadness; for others food is a feel-good space that comforts by temporarily filling a void; some even see food as an evil force that causes them to gain weight. Therefore the relational dynamics that different people build with food are complex and multifaceted. Using an abundance of food as a source of instant gratification and temporary satisfaction, or a deficit of food as a source of control are clear indicators of negative relationships with food. Most of us fit into at least one of these three types of food relationships: food for temporary comfort during stressful periods, food for satisfaction; or (no) food for control. These are all negative relationships with food because we are relying on food rather than ourselves for an emotional response. Many psychological elements associated with modern society stem from factors unrelated to the symptoms exhibited by the individual. In this case, using food as an outlet becomes the response to a stimulus unrelated to the food itself. No one can deny that the feeling of eating after being very hungry is definitely satisfying, and that consuming tasty food is pleasurable; however this is all that it should be, nothing more. Food is not an emotional crutch, a source upon which to gain control, or an entity to alleviate stress; rather food is our key source of energy, internal balance and healing.
So What Do Our Bodies Need?
As a rule of thumb, stick to simplicity! Enjoy plenty of whole foods and fresh water. This means foods that are not tinned, boxed or vacuum packed. For the most part, you want to be able to see your food in its entirety, not masked behind shiny marketing-laden packing.
Whole foods are essentially one ingredient foods. These include:
- All fruits and vegetables
- Unrefined grains
- Healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, olive or macadamia nut oil, nut butters
- Spring water and herbal teas.
Depending on how your body feels after the consumption of certain wholefoods, you can choose to either include or exclude them as part of your everyday nourishment. It is important to be intuitive when we eat. Even the healthiest of foods may not necessarily be something your specific body needs at this particular time. It is all about being in tune with your own body. Using myself as an example, I have learned to understand what my body does and does not need based on how I feel after I have consumed a specific food -I know that at this point in my life my body functions far better on fish, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and certain whole grains. Foods such as dairy, poultry,meat and wheat do not make me feel good and therefore I choose to eat these foods very sparingly at this point in time. This is not to say that I won’t re-introduce such foods at a later stage when my body needs them again; however for now, my body is telling me that these foods should be avoided.
What Not To Eat....
- Refined sugars
- Cold meats
- Processed goods
- Refined grains
- Artificial sweeteners
- Low fat / fat free or “diet” claim products
- Unhealthy fats
- Precooked meals
- Junk food
- Carbonated beverages
- Anything with an expiry date older than you!
These items are not food!! Rather, they are an assortment of chemicals and additives blended together with some version of food-like substances that are enticingly packaged so that we are drawn to buy these products. These 'food' items are as good as garbage for our bodies and should be avoided. The odd slice of cake here and there will not cause us harm but should really be left for a special occasion. Nourishment is about caring for and respecting our bodies; when we let go of these processed foods for good, we become more attuned to our bodies which in turn enables our bodies to cleanse, reset and recharge more effectively. As a result, we begin to feel fresh, alive and full of energy.