What does eating healthy look like, anyway?
With every day bringing new and contradictory information about what to eat and what not to eat, it can be very frustrating to know what is right for you.
There is no “one-diet-fits-all” for everyone. If there were, we would all be eating exactly the same food and we would, in theory, all be in excellent health.
As humans we are genetically similar, yet each of us is unique at the same time. If 10 people were to eat the exact same meal, the response inside each of their bodies would be different for all 10 of those people. The reason for that is due to our bio-individuality. We know we need the three macronutrients: fats, protein and carbohydrates. We need them in proper balance. Part of the problem today is that we eat very little good fats, too many unhealthy fats and way too many carbohydrates. Our food intake is out of balance.
People swear by a certain way of eating and want the rest of the world to feel as good as they do, so they encourage anyone who will listen to try eating their way. The trouble is, that their way of eating may not work for others in the same way, or even themselves after a while.
Our bodies are constantly adapting, I mean second-to-second adapting, to internal and external stimuli and situations. We humans are amazingly resilient to endure all that we have throughout the ages to still be alive and functioning today. As a species, we have gone from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, to prepared foods, to processed foods that so many people now eat without a second thought.
There are countless diets and lifestyles regarding what to eat and it is just confusing. Most of us want to do the right thing when it comes to food, but even that gets confusing because we are told by the food manufacturers, the diet experts and the people who swear by this or that way of eating that this one is the right, best, healthiest one. Ways of eating can cause as much conflict and controversy as any political debate.
I just don’t see it that way. Food is our fuel. That’s all it is. Food will either keep us healthy, strong and feeling good physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, or it can do us great harm.
In simplest terms, if what you are eating truly makes you feel good, then it is a good food for you. Check in with yourself: How is your sleep? Do you go to sleep easily and stay asleep, waking refreshed? Or do you have a hard time getting to and staying asleep? Do you wake wishing you could keep sleeping? How is your energy level during the day? There are natural ebbs and flows to our energy throughout the day, but do you find yourself reaching for artificial stimulants in the form of sugar, caffeine, nicotine, etc., to push through? How is your mood? Do you feel pretty even-keeled or do you notice really low lows and/or big bursts of energy followed by exhaustion? How is your appetite? Are you hungry all the time? Never really hungry? Do you graze during the day, do you eat at night? How are your bowel movements? Do you have at least one solid bowel movement every day? Do you go for days without or have chronic diarrhea? How does your body feel? Are you carrying around excess weight, or not enough? Do you have aches and pains that you are just used to? How do you eat? Do you plan, shop and cook your own meals using real food? Or do you grab convenient food based on what is in front of you, what is on sale, or what will be quick because you’re in a hurry?
Whatever your answers are to those questions, know that there is a direct link to what you are eating and all of the above. Having the proper balance of the macronutrients — fats, protein and carbohydrates — goes a long way in feeling good.
Food is either medicine or poison. It is either healing or toxic. To go from eating in a way that is toxic to your body to a way that is healing can feel overwhelming, even scary or threatening, if you feel like you don’t know where to start or what to do. When you’re not sure what to do next, and you’re feeling overwhelmed because there is so much to do, stop. Take a few slow, deep breaths, and just do the next one thing. That’s all. We can really only do one thing at a time, so don’t get thrown by all the things you need to do. Just do that one next thing. You can do it. Choose to remove one food that you know hurts your body. Choose to add one food that you think may help your body. Start with one thing. You can do one thing.
Jeni Hall of Dublin is a board certified nutritional therapist practicing in the Monadnock region. Her mission is to empower you to heal your own body and keep it healthy. See www.jenihall.com, for more information.