We often think of diet as a 4-letter word. To you, it might have a negative connotation. But, your diet is simply the food you choose to eat. Everyone has a diet and I want you to start thinking about yours a little differently.
Food is fuel. I’m sure by now you have heard it compared to the fuel you put in your car. For better function, you need better quality fuel. Food is one of the best ways for you to communicate with the outside world. It is connecting you to your world and nourishing you at the same time. The food you eat is so important to your overall health and function. It’s a choice you make multiple times a day. Every time you eat something you are either making yourself healthy or sick. Food is not neutral, it’s information.
We are all human and we have all evolved to essentially eat the same way. However, not the exact same way. Your friend may love a food that doesn’t quite jive the same way as you. The following are four very important questions I want you to ask yourself that will help determine if your diet is truly doing its job.
Am I regular? Whoa! You might be thinking, “I don’t want to talk about poop.” Too bad! It’s a normal human function and should be happening at least once per day and often at the same time each day. Not regular? Check your diet! You are either eating something that is inhibiting your digestive function which may include dairy, sugar or grains or you might not be getting enough quality fat or cooked vegetables.
Do I feel good after a meal? Does eating leave you feeling bloated, tired or anxious? Then you might be eating the wrong foods! Food is supposed to make you feel good and energized. And not in a crazy triple shot mocha frappe latte kind of way. Highly processed foods, sugary drinks and desserts sure do taste amazing, but 30 minutes later you will feel less than optimal. Check in with yourself. Make sure your food is doing its job which is to give you the ability to go out and take on the world!
Is this real food? A lot of the calories we consume come from food-like products and not actual food. If it has a label with loads of ingredients and health claims, if it was made in a factory instead of the soil or if bugs or your dog won’t eat it when it is left out on the counter for a day or two, it’s probably not even food. Real food is whole and single ingredient. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great foods that come in packages and that might be mildly processed, but the less processing that is done to your food in a factory, the better off you are. Real food naturally has the correct ratios of vitamins and minerals, so as long as you are eating a variety of quality proteins, fats, vegetables and fruits, you are probably getting the nutrients you need and don’t need that special vitamin fortified bar.
Did I sleep well last night? What you eat has a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. Our hormones are regulated by the foods that we eat. If you consume too much sugar or processed foods, our insulin will be too high, we will be inflamed and our sleep will be disrupted. If we eat too large of a meal or consume too much caffeine too close to our bed time, we will have difficulty falling asleep. Improve your sleep by restricting caffeine after 1pm, eating your largest meal of the day for breakfast, avoiding food for 2 hours before you go to bed and adding a few simple carbohydrates to your last meal of the day. This can be in the form of rice, fruit or quinoa.
Your diet will change over time. You’ll find new foods and recipes that you love, you might find that a food you’ve been eating for years is now an irritant, you may no longer even like another food. That is okay! Recognizing these changes and learning to adapt will result in a healthier, stronger you. A diet isn’t something that is temporary or a 4 letter word. Rather, it is an ever changing journey and the most powerful tool you have to live your optimal life.