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I’ve been thinking lately about diet, more specifically, about the fuel that we put in our engines to make them go.
I’ve always been pretty good about what goes into my body. The cravings I have, my wife tells me, aren’t normal. When I feel nudgy, I crave fruits, vegetables, maybe some nuts or left over salmon. I realize that for most people, these cravings aren’t normal, but I would like to challenge what should be defined as “normal”.
There’s a series of commercials on TV right for a car company that I can’t remember that keeps stressing that we’ve been brainwashed into accepting the status quo of what car companies are producing, but HEY! Look at us, we’re breaking that paradigm and bringing you what you REALLY need! I think that train of thought can be brought into the discussion of what we eat. There has been a certain amount of brainwashing that has been done to the population as a whole. We have been convinced that snacks have to be potato chips or candy bars or candy bars. What happened to the concept of an apple or an orange?
We all know the phrase, you are what you eat. I’d like to modify that phrase a little to say you feel like what you eat. That’s because, to a very large degree, if you put good things in your body, your body will feel good. If you put crap in your body, you’re gonna feel like crap. Plain and simple. It’s pretty straightforward.
But hold on. What qualifies as good? and what qualifies as crap? and what about the things that are in between?
That’s where things get hard. It’s easy to say to people, “eat right and you’ll be fine” or “don’t eat unhealthy food or you’re gonna get fat”. How does that help people? Most people have no idea what eating right really, truly means.
For a lot of people eating right means severely restricting calories. There’s a little bit of truth buried in that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not quite right. For others, it means eating fat-free, sugar-free foods from the “health & diet” section of the grocery store. I KNOW that’s not right. And yet for others it means eating only things that taste like cardboard and taking the joy out of eating. THAT is definitely NOT right.
So what’s a person to do?
That’s it. For a lot of people, eating has become either this orgiastic festival of gluttony or a mindless process of excess. Either way, there is a detachment that has happened that doesn’t allow your brain and your stomach to work together in concert. By being present, you pay attention to what you are eating and how you are eating it. Eventually, if you are aware of every bite you put in your mouth, you will realize that you are not hungry and will hopefully stop.
For those that can’t, there is then an extra step – the food log. It takes a lot less time than you actually think – literally 60 seconds after every meal or snack. You write down what you’ve eaten and note how you’ve felt since you last meal or snack. For those who say I don’t have the time I say, Are you frakking kidding me? Almost every adult I know has enough time to check their email, post to Facebook or tweet on Twitter after a meal. Guess what? You have 60 seconds to write down what you ate on your mobile device. There IS an app for that.
By keeping a log you will have the ability to go back and discover what IS good for you and what is not. Every person’s bio-chemistry is a little different. Yes, there are broad similarities that allow lifestyle diets like Paleo, South Beach and Blood Type to generally work for a lot of people, but in the final analysis, we are all individuals who don’t fit perfectly into that cookie cutter mold.
That is why by being present, you can customize your diet to fit the needs of your unique physiology.
I love spinach. A lot of people eat tons of it. Unfortunately for me, by being present I have come to realize that I can only eat it in smaller doses without it having an adverse effect on me. Unfortunate that I can’t eat it in large quantities – fortunate that I can avoid unnecessary unpleasantness.
So, are you aware of what you are eating?
Are you present?