A lot of words get thrown around in the wellness blogging space when it comes to food philosophy.
There is the paleo crowd, the vegan crew (we know I know about dat), vegetarianism, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, soy-free (estrogen probs- I get it), IIFYM (if it fits your macros), macrobiotics, intuitive eating, eating whatever you want in balance and moderation, a protein-rich diet, low-carb, no carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, ketosis, Ayurvedic, raw, cooked, metabolism balancing, blah, blah & BLAH.
I’m not saying that some or any of these diet or lifestyle choices are not worth looking into. I just think that when it comes to LABELS, they’re all such an easy way to get trapped & to stop listening to our bodies.
We are ALWAYS changing & evolving — veganism might feel amazing one day, and really radically not awesome to you the next.
So I am going to propose a new and very alternative way of thinking… just listening to our bodies & eating well to feel great, plain and simple.
That doesn’t necessarily mean eating intuitively, because sometimes my intuition tells me I want a massive almond milk latte 10x a day and a gluten-free donut for dinner. Sounds delish, but realistically I know that’s not going to make me feel my best. I know I need food that is going to satiate and sustain me, and won’t make my stomach feel yuck when I wake up in the morning. I also know that as much as I love coffee, I really have to keep my intake to a bare minimum so that it doesn’t hurt my tum or make me feel like a zinged out psycho.
BUT on the flip side, I believe we should listen to our bodies. We should enjoy what we are putting into our mouths. That’s why I would never nix coffee completely, because I really do love it, and having some coffee in the morning is a part of my beloved routine that makes me feel happiest and most productive.
Food should have life force / Prana!
In yoga, we believe that food should have as much life force as possible, a.k.a PRANA. Prana means universal life force, or energy. If you choke down a cayenne lemon agave water every morning because it seems healthier than a big cup o’ joe but you actually hate the taste, you’re not really practicing prana. Food cannot bring you the valid life force you need if you don’t enjoy what you are consuming!
So if you love something, find the version of it that has the most prana. Genetically modified coffee with sugary whole milk from a corporate chain like McDonald’s probably isn’t the way to go (unless that’s your favorite thing in the universe so you choose it as a treat every so often).
Instead I personally choose organic, locally made cold brew with a splash of almond milk (healthy fats to help me absorb the acid) and some cinnamon to balance my blood sugar. And when I do drink tea, because I also love it, I choose organic and herb-filled brands that I know will have a benefit for my gut, mind, and taste buds.
Same with solid food! Technically, meat doesn’t have a whole lot of prana because obviously the animals we eat are no longer alive. But that doesn’t mean that we CAN’T eat meat ever. It just means that we should be mindful of where we get our meat from. Again, locally, sustainably-raised, organic, grass-fed meat has a lot more life force that factory farmed meat where the animals were treated terribly.
And then we can balance out that meat intake with super life force charged foods like organic veggies, legumes, grains, nuts, fruits and food from the earth that fo SHO is full of nutrients. And even then if we cook those veggies and let them sit in our refrigerator for a week, they will lose some of that life force.
And trust me I’m not trying to go all totally hippie dippie on you. The prana example is only one example of what I am talking about.
Food that has life force gives us what we need from it: fuel, enjoyment, energy, satiety, nourishment. That is what we should be going for with the foods that we eat!
Eating well to FEEEL well:
As someone who has been all over the board with food- the MAIN thing that has helped me stay true to eating well for my body is by thinking about how I will feel after what I put into my mouth.
I used to eat way too little for my body, I now know that. And I was always hungry. I was so envious of people who I would eat meals with, watching them eat their food and knowing they were going to be satiated and fueled after eating it. I knew they were doing what they were supposed to be doing — eating something that sounded good to them in that moment, and eating enough of it so that it served as a full meal. Duh.
Well I, unfortunately, had a lot of trouble doing that for a long time. I was afraid of being too full or eating something that was too “unhealthy” or big in portion. Instead, I usually opted for kale salads at restaurants or small cups of soup. Then I was usually ravenous for a snack, and then usually ravenous for the next meal.
But never ate enough at any given time to make that satiety happen.
I also went through phases where I did just the opposite. Where I starved my body for so long that there was NO way I was going to be able to eat a decent sized meal for dinner or lunch or even breakfast… and I would eat and eat to the point of feeling really sick.
If we choose foods with the intention of feeling GOOD and energized after we eat them, it’s an amazing way to put all of those other issues to rest.
I have been so proud of myself lately for actually EATING at my lunch meetings & dinners out with friends. I used to be so, so fearful of eating a full meal when I wasn’t completely hungry for it, that I would deprive myself but then be starving afterward. It’s not a way to live. And that was pretty far into my eating disorder recovery when I felt pretty much back to normal in almost every other way.
( BTW THE BOOK Always Hungry? by David Ludwig is a current fave of mine that is really helping with all of this too! )
Also, I LOOOOVE smoothies but I know they don’t always make me feel great afterward. All of the roughage and the combo of ingredients don’t feel too great on my tummy these days, so I only drink them sparingly or when I am feeling calm and balanced enough that I think my stomach can handle it. (And to think — for years I drank them every morning of my life.)
Lately I’ve been all about the cooked food and Ayurvedic meals… Specifically kitchari. 😉 And with all of the yoga, running and detox my body has been going through — I have needed some extra fuel to feel my best. I am not afraid of eating whatever my body seems to need on a given day… And switching it up! Which brings me to my next point.
Don’t be afraid to switch it up!
I see this issue time and again with friends of mine who are recovering from orthorexia or eating issues like myself. And trust me, I’ve experienced this prob to the millionth degree until I finally let it go and saw the damage it was doing.
You can’t be afraid to switch things up!
Just because a smoothie, eggs, and grilled chicken worked for you one day, in that specific order, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to have the next day.
I have been switching up my meals more than ever lately. Plant-based one day, protein-heavy the next, and everything in between. My body seems to thrive on a wider variety of foods versus super slim, as long as they have that life force quality I was talking about.
Switching it up also makes food more FUN… Which is what we are all going for in the first place anyway, isn’t it?
Actually enjoying what we put it into our bods!
Trying fun healthy restaurants, letting food be the social, fun way to connect that it’s supposed to be, and being creative in the kitchen are all things you miss out on when you are too afraid to switch up your diet. #beeenthereeee
- You want your food to have LIFE FORCE so that it gives you the energy and burst of nourishment that you so deserve & thrive off of. <3
- Eat well to feel well — if you know you will feel great after you eat something, eat it! If you are unsure, then maybe choose something else. But don’t use this as a tool to deprive– simply remember that your ultimate goal is to feel your best and be the healthiest version of yourself!
- Eat what you LIKE, because that’s always going to have the most life force & good energy.
- Have fun switching things up, and let food be a fun way to connect with people and yourself.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you have an off day… They happen ALL the time.
There we have it, babes. My current balanced outlook on this foodie life — WHILE being a total wellness fanatic but never wanting to forego the balance and moderation that makes me so happy. 🙂