Many of us are living on a permanent diet, restricting food because we are focused on weight instead of well-being. We undermine our health when we fail to understand food, and the basic facts about how it affects us. Instead of trusting the natural wisdom of our bodies, we live disconnected from how different foods make us feel, and we count calories rather than nutrients. Instead of loving food, we have learned to fear it.
But dieting is not a viable lifestyle. Nourishing ourselves means honoring food as fuel for our bodies. Food is designed by nature to satisfy our physical, mental and emotional needs.
Here are three simple rules to shift your mindset from a diet mentality to a nourishment mentality:
1. Design a rhythm of three meals a day.
You won’t need to snack if your meals are filling and high in nutrition. Eat enough to carry you four or five hours until the next meal.
2. Eat real food.
Plan your meals and shop carefully to select foods with real, unprocessed ingredients. Don’t worry about giving the way you eat a label, or sticking to a particular philosophy. Just figure out what your own body craves and enjoys in terms of food.
Fill your plate with a portion of each of the food groups. Fill half your plate with low-starch green and cruciferous vegetables. Fill a quarter of the plate with complex carbohydrates, and a quarter with protein. Include one or two servings of high quality fats.
3. Check in with your physical body (not your mind) to see what it needs.
The human body needs glucose from complex carbs, fat and protein. It is your mind (including your memories and emotional food associations) that translates your body’s signals into cravings for sweets or fried foods.
Remember that when you are changing your habits, your initial impulse is often habit rather than need. When you feel a craving, pause and check in with your body. Ask questions like:
Am I tired? (You body may be asking for complex carbs instead of sugar.)
Am I worn out? (Your body may want good quality fat, rather than French fries.)
Am I frustrated? (Try a drink of water, a walk, or a cup of tea in place of soda or candy.)
When our meals provide real nutrition from real, whole food, we are less vulnerable to cravings.