If you can’t feel what the food that you are eating is doing to you, for good or bad, then slow down and eat less, until you can.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about balance in body feeling. What I mean by that is how I feel in my body. I hate feeling fat or lethargic, and I am amazed at how easy some foods just put me there, or how quickly I can get there with a loss of discipline. And I find that once you are out of whack, your body has cravings that will take you more out of whack, and so it becomes harder and harder to get back to the right path.
Some Eastern cultures have been very sophisticated about diet and body balance for a very long time. In the West, some of these ideas come and go, but they remain nothing more than fads. But whether we like the terminology or not, they are based on some universal truths:
- Every body is different
- Different body means different dietary needs
- Place and circumstance (age, stress, general health) affect best diet
While the Eastern cultures have some fairly rigorous structures and systems for understanding your body and understanding the foods you eat, if you are in touch with your body, you don’t need to be quite so “religious” about it, you just need to pay attention.
I started following a blog recently (weightlosschick.com) and she has some pretty good ideas. She is also prolific. One thought she expressed was to never sit down to eat until you are really and truly hungry. Sounds obvious, but it isn’t always the case.
This happens usually because of social obligations, and it is really too bad, because it kind of kills the meal. More importantly, it also kinda kills you…Bad eating habits lead to inflammation, lead to weight gain, lead to chronic disease.
With that in mind, and as I think about getting myself back onto the wagon after 10 days of resolute over-indulgence, here is what I have learned.
I cannot stand not being able to feel my body. I find that I cannot feel my body when I gain weight, when I over-eat, when I drink too much. And it isn’t so much that being overweight means I can’t feel my body, it is more about the direction of travel. The body is an extremely sensitive organism. When I am in a state of stasis, pleasantly plump and not doing anything about it, I can’t really feel what is happening in my body. First, it is only when I am truly hungry and sit down to eat, that I notice how I feel from the food I take in. That I become aware.
Second, being mindful when eating is very important: there is more enjoyment, we tend to each much less, and we can also feel more easily what is going on in our bodies. It is important to eat slowly, and to concentrate on the food we are taking in. It is also vitally important to stop eating before you are full, as it takes at least 15 minutes for the communication pathways in your gut to tell your brain that you have had enough. This is a by-product of evolution—overeating was important when you didn’t know when your next meal would come, but it is not at all suited to the modern world. Our behaviour has to change.
When I approach a meal and I am truly hungry, it makes me feel skinny even when I am not. Skinny in this sense is a state of mind, and a very healthy one at that. It means, skinny for me, for my body. It means that for my caloric requirements, I have reached a point where my body does actually need to take in food. It also means that when I eat, my body grabs the nutrients in that food on overdrive. This important physical state of approaching a meal allows me to feel my body react to the food I am taking in.
If I eat a piece of fruit on an empty stomach, I can feel my blood sugar spike. If I start my day with cheese, I can feel its heaviness. Knowing and understanding how your own body reacts to the foods it eats will help you make better choices. We are all different. What is really bad for me may just be okay for you, or vice versa. Plenty of people have intolerances or sensitivities. It pays to observe.
Listen to your body when it tells you it wants something. I get cravings for bone marrow, roast duck, goose, spicy foods, and certain fruits, nuts and seeds. Our food cravings, and I am not talking about snacks or desire for sugary or salty foods, but the weird ones like wanting a curry, or craving a banana, should be listened to. Your body is telling you that there is something it needs.
Regardless, moderation in all things, and eating a wide-ranging diet based on plant products that are grass rather than grain based are the key to a happy and healthy gut and body. I know how I feel when I eat this way. Do you? I also know that I can only feel it when I am eating responsibly. Have you tried? Please do, and let me know how you get on.
When you do this, you will have a happy body, a tuned body, a primed body, and one that you can feel, and be happy to wear. I promise.