There are so many foods we are supposed to stay away from, or at least limit, according to experts in the industry. Depending on which dietitian, nutritionist, physician, book, or PBS special you are currently in alignment with, here are some of the possible things to steer clear from: fats, red meat, all meat, carbs, anything not organic, anything not locally grown, all processed foods, MSG, hydrogenated oils, dairy, salty snacks, sugary snacks, alcohol, corn syrup, any grain that is not a whole grain, white anything (flour, rice, bread, sugar, pasta), preservatives and on and on. But I have an idea.
While there is a good possibility that many of the different eating guidelines have merit, before you pick which foods to embrace and which to throw away, do something really awesome. Instead of basing your decision on logical arguments from all the external authorities, decide first how foods feel—to you. Here’s your provocation. This week intend to be fully present and mindful of you and your food before, during, and after you eat. How does your food look? Does your whole body want it or simply your taste buds? How does it smell? Is your body asking for something different instead? Can you really taste the food or are you rushing through it? Then, and this is the important part—10 to 20 minutes after you have eaten, simply notice how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Are you sluggish or energized? Do you have any aches? Are you mentally clear or foggy? Do you feel “deadened” and numb or frisky and alive? Don’t make it a judgmental, criticism thing, just notice how you are doing. You may uncover something that can be really helpful.
Here is what I’ve found. Generally food serves me well, unless I use it for stress-reduction or relief, then not so much. Sometimes I eat sugary food because I consciously choose to have a bit of the yummy taste. Other times I crave it and it feels not so much a conscious choice, but rather like I “need” it. Most often those times are: when I feel sleepy or drained around 3-4pm with an afternoon lull; when I feel nervous, anxious, mad, or even excited about something; when I am tired from not getting enough quality sleep; when I am low on water but don’t realize I am thirsty. When I eat something sweet at those times, it tastes good on my tongue as I eat it. It also feels like it brings me some sort of relief. Then shortly afterward I usually feel more tired, drained, sluggish, and sometimes even mean. No fun really, but it is actually cool to know—because that awareness creates my point of power to be able to choose differently if and when I want to.
Our bodies rock! Your body rocks! Notice it this week. You have the opportunity to take lavish, loving care of it. Not because you “should.” Not because you need to “guilt yourself” into it. But quite simply, because you deserve to feel good. Whether or not anyone ever told you that, it’s true. You deserve to feel good. And noticing how foods feel from inside you is an amazing and powerful way to put that knowing into practice.