There is a phrase in the world of health and wellness that makes me cringe a little every time I hear someone say it, “Listen to your body.”
In some respects, it is fabulous advice, and yes, I believe that we do innately know what our body needs and how to be mindful enough to nourish ourselves.
Yet in this day and age, with the proliferation of sugar, caffeine, harmful fats, additives and other chemical and hormone laden foods on the market, we have lost touch with how to do something very simple—feed ourselves.
On top of these external factors within the food itself, there is also a host of emotional factors that sway our food choices and make us either over-think our food choices, to eat from a place of guilt or discipline or we eat impulsively with zero thought as to why or what we are placing inside our bodies.
We have lost touch with where our food comes from, how it is grown, the processes it goes through to reach our plate and even what food is actually for.
So, if we were to listen to the random voice within that tells us what to eat and when, chances are it would tell us to eat things like chocolate and soda or bagels and coffee.
It would also tell us to eat more often that we actually need to eat. To often reaching for food has become a habit, born out of boredom or emotion, with little regard for actual hunger and real fulfillment.
It doesn’t take long, once you move away from addictive ‘imposter’ foods, that you begin to regain that ability to listen to your body.
And that is when I feel that the statement “Listen to your body” is effective.
When our body is clean and our mind clear, the voice that tells you what you need is very direct.
Sure, you may have cravings for sugar, and if so, reach for an apple, you may have cravings for fats, and then reach for a handful of macadamia nuts.
The cravings are not for the actual foods, but rather what your body needs for sustenance.
I hear this statement often as a justification for people eating meat, saying that their body asks for it, they “need” it, as though they have no control over the decision whatsoever. I question this in my own mind and ask if they sat down to a nourishing bowl of quinoa and vegetables or tempeh and greens, if that ‘need’ for meat would still be overwhelming, if apparent at all.
When we begin to think of food as medicine, then what we eat and how we eat changes dramatically.
Furthermore, the more mindful we become, the more questions we ask and answers we seek to find—where is this banana from, are these pecans sprayed, did this coconut get radiated and dipped in formaldehyde on its way out of Thailand, where can I buy Australian quinoa rather than Bolivian quinoa. The questions continue and we begin to develop a close connection with what we are eating and what each and every choice is supporting.
So, I believe it is more accurate to say, listen to your body and your mind—listen to that innate voice within that tells you what to eat and when, and then question that voice—is that what I feel like, how is that nourishing me, where did it come from, what nutrients is this supporting me with, is this the best option I have right now?
Is this the best option I have right now?
Have you ever asked yourself that?!
I try and ask myself that each meal I sit down to.
And, it makes me happy to answer “YES!” to that question.
Yes, this is the best way I can nourish myself within this moment.
Sometimes we have to be flexible, we have to make do with an option that may not be what you would choose if you were at home making food for yourself.
Still, this doesn’t give you permission to disregard all your core values—you always have a choice.
I remember being stuck in a remote town in Panama, I spoke no Spanish and I could see no vegetarian options anywhere. So I found a tiny roadside stall where I bought some carrots, some tinned kidney beans and some tinned peas and beans! It wasn’t the most gourmet meal I could fathom, but it fueled me to my next destination.
The point is, I didn’t throw my hands up in the air and opt for the steak and eggs!
So, my offer to you today is—go a little deeper, question yourself, question everything and then make the best decision that you can.
All of our food choices have consequences that expand further beyond our own physical body.
Every time we make a purchase, we are making a statement as to what we support and the kind of world we want to live in and see our grandchildren live in.
I see many people become more conscious about their food choices once they have children, because of an innate desire to nourish their little ones in the very best way they can—no parent wishes to feed their child pesticides, hormones, addictive’s and poison. We need to think in this mind set all the time.
I promise, it isn’t a chore, it won’t ruin your life or your social life, it will only enhance it.
You will feel vibrant, alive and encouraged, your desire to make a difference in the world will strengthen and the people you associate with may shift. You will see a world of promise as well as a world that needs some real nourishment and love.
Change comes through education and listening followed by action and speaking.
I will advise you that the more questions you ask, the more will arise—and as you jump down the rabbit hole of “where did this carrot actually come from”, you are saying yes to living a life of mindful searching and educated eating.
Some old favorites will drop away, but they will be replaced with new ones (most likely tahini and goji berries!) Don’t be frightened to take the leap, one step inside a Farmers market or a Wholefoods and you may feel enlivened and excited!
Nourish yourself, nourish your loved ones, nourish this world we share.
When you do listen to your body and it ask for kale and tempeh and almonds, it is asking for enzymes, protein and calcium. Reward it, knowing you are being heard from that deeper place of intuition.
1. Before you eat, ask yourself if,
Am I really hungry?
Is this choice the best way to nourish my body.
2. Learn how to substitute
If you crave sugar have a piece of fruit, if you crave coffee have a green tea, if you crave fat have some raw nuts or tahini, if you crave soda have a fresh juice, if you crave chocolate have a piece of organic raw vegan chocolate. Slowly, as you notice how much better you feel with these choices, they will become second nature.
3. Make sure you have healthy food at home and shop regularly for fresh fruit and vegetables so there is an abundance of health at your fingertips.
4. Carry snacks when you go out to avoid making decisions in haste.
Nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, vegetables, hummus, avocados, homemade raw crackers and bliss balls.
5. Get educated
Start learning more about where your food comes from, about organic food, about the meat and dairy industry—trust me, this will make your decisions far easier.
6. Don’t think in terms of deprivation or what you “can’t” eat, think of all the fabulous food that you “can” enjoy.
Try making new recipes, search blogs and websites for healthy desserts and new ideas, make food for friends and experiment with new foods- find joy in the vast array of healthy options available to you.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Lauryn DeGrado / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s Own; Tim Eytan/Flickr