So something that has been on my mind a lot recently is how to be a better version of myself in this new city– when I think of this, I have to consider a couple of things:
- who am I now and who do I want to be?
- what do I need to do to be who I want to be?
- what changes do I need to make to my current lifestyle to accomplish points 1 and 2?
- how does food play into these new plans?
Food is a very sensitive topic for me. If I make plans with people and the time stamps overlap with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I always have to ask if we will be making food or getting food. There are a lot of different reasons as to why food is a touchy subject for me. But to sum it up, I have learned that food is not a punishment, but rather a requirement for existence. To some people this might seem rudimentary. But to myself and many others, food was something seen as supplemental for active work done before the opportunity to eat. Food was a reward for working my body, but not something that I interacted with before the work / activity was done. I am thankful that I now have a more mindful approach to the way I eat.
As a young kid I woke up everyday and had breakfast, but this was before food started getting tricky. Once middle school and high school hit I was playing 3 travel sports and practicing/lifting at least once per day, sometimes even 2 times going from one sport practice to the next. Eating was definitely a requirement because I was literally always hungry. But then I went to college and I wasn’t working out and practicing every day. This was when food started to become harder for me to navigate. I wasn’t as hungry as I had been in the past and I was only doing yoga and pilates a few times a week. I started recalling all of the unhelpful phrases I heard when I was younger… “Don’t eat bread,” “Carbs make you fat,” “Try this new diet,” “Do more cardio to lose weight,” “Sugar is bad for you,” and “Smoothies can be meal replacements.” And of course, so many more.
Well, as you can guess, this all really affected the way I viewed nutrition, my health, and my relationship with exercise and food. I didn’t necessary believe all of those phrases, but that doesn’t mean that any time I ordered pasta off the menu I didn’t feel slightly bad about myself. Overcoming these feelings of confusion and guilt towards certain foods was very hard for me, but the best way that I found to tackle this issue was to read. Read as much as you can about foods, and do it from a variety of platforms. Try to educate yourself from places that aren’t trying to sell you something. Read information from places where their true intent is to help you feel more whole, more in love with your body, and more energized through your food choices.
As I continue to navigate this new version of myself as a mindful eater I am trying my best to remember that food is not something that we need to earn. Rather, food is something we need, period. Our bodies are so miraculous and are constantly working to keep us alive. For this reason, they need energy! Food is this energy source, and you do *not* need to workout for an hour to earn your next meal. Your body needs your next meal, regardless of if you workout or not. If you do extra activity throughout your day, you might be even more hungry. Hunger is a queue from your body telling you it needs more sources for energy!! Please, please listen to it.
Of course, there are certain foods that will be better for your body, that are easier to breakdown and use more efficiently compared to others. My current lifestyle heavily relies on the 80/20 rule, where I try to have about 80% of my food be natural / organic (i.e. I know where the ingredients come from) and the remaining 20% can be foods that are less “healthy,” (i.e. meals where I eat out, meals that might have more salt than usual, meals where I’m not 100% sure where the ingredients are coming from/might not be ingredients that were grown from the earth).
The biggest takeaway that I have learned is that you need to find a percent balance of foods that keeps you energized, able to digest your food in a timely manner, and allows for you to not feel restricted. These aspects are why I consider this “mindful eating.” You are actively keeping in mind how the food will affect you.
When we are restricted, we are unhappy. Food does not exist to make your life harder. You deserve to enjoy your foods. And your body deserves to be fed, and needs to be fed. Just be mindful about how that looks, and be sure to know the truth about your foods before you let them have too much of a hold over you.
I’m rooting for you, and I believe that you and your body will figure out what works in a way where you can feel happy and grateful for the food that you are supplying your body with. If you eat more mindfully, things will start to fall into place. Please reach out if you have any specific questions. This stuff is hard, but together we can fuel ourselves appropriately without feeling guilty.