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One question I’m constantly asked is “Can you share your diet?”
I never answer this question because our diets are personal and deeply interlaced with our spiritual journey.
Diet is a constant and unique exploration of what our genetics and lifestyles demand: sex, hormonal cycles, sleep, age, health, level of activity, and stress levels.
Everything we do or don’t do is going to affect our dietary needs. There is constant change around us— in our circumstances and our environment—and our dietary needs are going to fluctuate with those changes. Successful nutrition is about being in tune with ourselves and adjusting as we go.
My main philosophy on diet is this: There is not one diet that is for everyone.
For me, a diet that strikes a balance between the following questions allows me to thrive:
How much of what I’m eating do I really need?
What am I eating for pleasure or comfort?
How do the products I consume affect the soil that produces the food, the air we breathe, and the water we share?
Our diets and health often reflect the beliefs we have subscribed to throughout our life. Are we willing to unsubscribe to certain beliefs for the sake of our health?
Being open to learning and changing creates space for honesty, and honesty is what we are lacking most in our diets.
Calibrating our diets is calibrating our lives.
Our calibrations will vary, and for that reason, no one can answer specific dietary questions for someone else.
But, all of us can be mindful of our unique needs with the tips below:
Keep Stressors Down
How we metabolize food is directly related to our stress levels.
Pay attention to all of the areas in our life that cause stress. On a cellular level, we become stressed (even when we don’t “feel” stressed) from eating the wrong foods, not getting enough quality sleep, not being fulfilled with our lives, unhealthy relationships, and environmental toxins. Addressing these stressors will have a direct impact on our metabolisms and nutrient absorption.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal where we jot down everything we eat and how we feel before, during, and after eating can give us huge insights.
It’s like becoming our own coach. It brings forth radical honesty that can help hold us accountable to the food choices we’re making, give us insights on when we’re eating emotionally, and show us what foods work or don’t work with our body.
Proper digestion is key for good metabolism and for the absorption of nutrients, so let’s not forget that the first step of digestion starts in our mouths. Chewing food thoroughly is imperative. That’s why it’s helpful to take note of how we’re feeling before and after our meals. This can help us identify if we’re feeling anxious or rushed. Once we’re aware of any anxiety, we can make a conscious effort to slow down or choose to nourish ourselves with something other than food.
Staying away from processed foods in cans, boxes, or plastic packaging allows us to detox our bodies, have a faster metabolism, and have higher nutrition.
Even organic labeled foods are often packaged in toxic packaging. If you choose something canned, go for glass jars or cans labeled BPA free. If we choose paper packaging and buy in bulk, we can replenish our own glass containers. This means prioritizing our lives around cooking, shopping for fresh foods, and meal planning.
When buying packaged and processed food, use the rule of three—pick food with three or fewer ingredients that are whole foods (nut, seed, grain, fruit, vegetable). Other fillers and highly processed ingredients cause inflammation and build up in our bodies.
Eat Local and Seasonal
This gives us the nutrients we need to thrive in any environment.
Believe it or not, the earth gives us the right nutrients throughout the year for our location. Helping us ward off allergies, colds, and other illnesses that are caused by not having a proper adaptation to our environments.
Fresh fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutritional vibrancy once they are picked, so local also means higher nutrition. When food is shipped from far distances there is a loss in regulation meaning fungicides, waxes, and formaldehyde are used to preserve foods on their trip across the world.
The best way to have an optimal diet is to keep it simple.
Choose a handful of foods you love, can easily prepare, and can be consistent with. For me, it’s mostly protein, vegetables, and some fruit. I don’t have to think too much about it. It’s easy and convenient when our meals consist of a handful of ingredients or less. Staying consistent for about 21 days with three to four ingredients allows us to detox and figure out what foods we are sensitive to or don’t process well. After 21 days of eating a diet that consists of the same ingredients, we can introduce other varieties one by one, noticing how our body reacts as we slowly introduce new things.
Be aware of emotional eating, cravings, and sugar—it’s why the top three recommendations on this list are reducing stress, getting in touch with our life satisfaction, and journaling.
Emotional eating is a sign of feeling depleted and that we aren’t taking care of ourselves in certain areas of our lives. It usually comes with craving extra empty carbs and sugary foods that completely throw us off the rails and perpetuate a cycle of eating to fulfill an emotional or spiritual need.
If we’re still having trouble leaning up and feeling great, we should get tested for food allergies and nutritional deficiencies.
Investing in high-quality fresh food is one of the best investments we can make. Our health supports our entire life. Eating premium foods save us money and grief in the long run since eating optimally means we may need fewer medications and medical treatments.
Like with anything worth having in life, there are no shortcuts, but the results are well worth it.