My days lately have been filled with homework and readings and lectures for my class (which I am LOVING). It gets a little overwhelming at times, but I am learning so much and loving every second. In short, my blog posts for the next nine months will probably be filled with things that I’m learning from the course.
One thing that stuck out to me last week in my readings is something that I will call the W’s of nutrition. I think many people who are overweight, have health issues, or generally just don’t feel well are probably aware that the foods they are putting into their bodies aren’t exactly ideal. You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that fast food and refined sugar are bad. But I think that a huge reason that people don’t make changes is because of mindset. If we can change our mindsets, then it might be just a little bit easier to make the food changes that are necessary for good health. I think these W’s of nutrition can help with that mindset shift that so many are looking for. (Most of this information is referenced from the book Staying Healthy with Nutrition.)
WHO: When I was growing up, even after I graduated high school and was still living at home, I played the blame game when it came to the food I was eating. I said I wasn’t the one doing the grocery shopping, or cooking the meals at home, or my friends chose the restaurant, or blah, blah, blah; I had no control over the food I was consuming. That’s why I wasn’t losing weight. That’s why I was unhealthy. It wasn’t my fault. But this is so so SO WRONG! With the exception of when we are babies or very small children, we are responsible for the food we eat. We do have complete control over the food we are consuming. We cannot be blaming the people around us, no matter our circumstances. One of my favorite quotes is “For things to change, I must change.” This could not be more true when applied to nutrition. Take responsibility. Educate yourself. Own up to your mistakes. Make changes if you want change. Who is responsible for your nutrition? YOU!
WHAT: This one almost goes without saying. Obviously a balanced diet is what all of our bodies need for better health. But what this is may actually vary from person to person. What your body needs might be significantly different from what mine does. Maybe your body tolerates and actually thrives on dairy while perhaps mine is intolerant. I’m not going to be giving nutritional recommendations here in this post (contact me personally for consultations), but what I will say is educate yourself. Perhaps do a sort of elimination/reintroduction diet and discover what your body actually does tolerate and need.
WHEN: There is much controversy about when to eat, how long to eat before you go to bed, how long to wait after you wake up, when to eat after you work out, or before, and so on. Again, this can (and should) be a very personal and bioindividual decision depending on your own body. It won’t look the same for every single person. What I think is most important though, and can be applied to everyone, is don’t eat if you aren’t hungry. And learn to recognize when you are. Many people, especially here in the United States, are just eating out of habit or even because of an emotional response. Get to know your body and the signs of actual hunger.
WHERE: This may seem trivial, but where we eat does make a difference. Many people (myself included) have a bad habit of eating while doing something else (like writing a blog post, for instance). In this day and age, we are so busy. Constantly going and doing and moving. But where we eat should be a relaxing setting. Not in the car, not in front Netflix. Create consistency. Eat at the dinner table with your family if possible. Make it a habit. Or if the weather is nice, eat outside, which can be extremely relaxing (which is great for your digestive system). In the summer, my husband and I often eat out in the backyard on a blanket in the grass. It feels almost like a luxury.
WHY: This sort of goes back to “when.” Before you go to the refrigerator or open that snack drawer at work, ask yourself why you want to eat. Is it because you’re bored? Lonely? Sad? Angry? Happy? Hanging out with friends? Think about it. Or is it because you know that food is fuel? That it literally creates energy for your body to go about it’s daily functions?
This is not to say though, that we should never eat in celebration or for social reasons. Because this is life and food and friends and loves ones are a big part of it, sometimes all at once. Here is a quote regarding this from the book that I loved:
“Many of these different motivational aspects of eating point to a single conclusion: there is always some component of desire when we eat – the desire to nourish ourselves, to be alive, to live life, both privately and with others. Losing this element of desire can mean losing the ability to eat; thus it is possible for us to become anorexic, which in Greek literally means ‘without desire.’ In some respects, eating should always involve a little celebration, recognizing the desire in our lives and embracing the goal of nourishing our whole selves.”
What I’m saying is that before we put food into our bodies, perhaps we should recognize that desire.
*BONUS*HOW: Just an extra little tip here. Our brain has a lot to do with our digestive system. When we think about food, or prepare food and smell food, our brain sends a signal to our digestive system that food is coming; prepare. Then our mouth produces saliva, which helps break down the food, making it easier on our stomach and digestive tract. The slower we chew and break down the food, the easier our food will be digested and the better we will feel. AND the more nutrients we will make use of.
I am far from perfect in all of these aspects. I am trying to improve though! I hope this helps you if you’re looking for a mindset shift.
Do you have any tips regarding these W’s of nutrition? I would love to hear them! Comment below!