Food for thought: It’s more than what you eat.
By this point in the program, you should have a good idea about what types of foods our body needs more of and what types of foods our bodies needs less of. In addition, you have learned about timing of food and some strategies on how to incorporate them into your nutrition.
Does this mean you are now eating like a champion and have perfect health?
Well, hopefully you are a little closer, but you’re probably not 100% there yet. In fact, you might even be feeling a little bit frustrated with yourself and your ‘lack of willpower’.
It is funny, in our nutrition courses, they taught us about food and how our body processes it and all the biochemical reactions that take place when we eat food. They were very clear on what food is good for our bodies, what food is bad and why.
But they never taught why my body could not make the right choices or why it was always a struggle to eat the way I ‘should’. This is something we had to learn on our own out in the real world through trial and error on and a lot of independent peripheral study.
Why we cannot eat the way we should
The bottom line is that our bodies are driving us to eat the way we do for a reason. Proper nutrition and exercise are key, but until you address why your body is forcing you to make more poor choices (and less good ones), you will always be fighting an uphill battle.
There are many reasons why we do not always make the best choices when it comes to food.
Nutritionally Starved – A lot of us are over-fed and under-nourished. When we eat calories that do not provide nutrition, our body is forced to continue to ‘ask/demand’ more food until it receives the nutrition it needs. The more you move your nutrition away from processed foods and towards organic whole foods, the less starved your body will be and (over time) it will not need to continually ask for more food to satisfy its nutritional needs.
With all the green smoothies and whole foods you’ve been incorporating so far in this program, you are slowly moving there. Keep working on it because it’s the first step and it’s the one that is easiest to address. Remember, it’s not as much about taking certain foods away, but making sure you are adding more nutrient-dense foods into your diet. This is what ‘re-sets’ your body to crave the good stuff.
Stress – Our bodies are designed to protect us. In times of famine, our bodies will naturally store fat. If you are fighting for your life, your body will want to be lean. If you are sick, it wants to heal you. All your body wants to do is protect you.
The problem is that our bodies have not caught up to our modern day stresses. We have work, financial obligations, family, relationships, school, church, sports, volunteer work, and the list goes on. We are busy people and in our body that is translated as stress. Our body is just doing what it thinks is best for our well being as best it knows how.
But our busy schedules are not the only stress, there is also our environment. There are toxins in our food, in our water, in our air, in our homes. All around us, we are being bombarded with toxins. This adds to the stress in our bodies because our bodies are constantly filtering for us.
Our body stores toxins in our fat cells. It’s one of the ways it protects us. You can kind of think of your ‘fat cells’ as your ‘buffer’ – a layer of protection – against toxins, against stressors, against famine, etc. Your body will not begin to let go of those layers until it feels like all of its needs/nutrients are being met fully (and consistently). Again, our body’s job is to protect us…to keep us alive as long as possible. So, it will ‘hang on’ to whatever it thinks it needs to get that job done.
Emotional Stress – is also a common one. This can be something that happened to us as a small child, teenager, or young adult. It can be a unhealthy relationship. It can be a lack of feeling loved. There are numerous emotional stresses that can cause our bodies to choose to protect us.
Emotional stresses can also create bad food habits. Example: maybe when we have a bad day, we have a bowl of ice cream or chocolate or a beer (insert your favorite vice here). We turn to this food because it makes us feel better (at least we think it does). In doing so, we are creating an emotional habit around a certain food that has negative health effects on our body.
The more we practice letting go of stress, the more our bodies can release our stress response and start operating in a more natural way – one that is designed to heal and to gravitate toward healthy choices and feeling good.
Food Addictions – There are some foods that we eat that can be considered addicting. If you remember from an earlier lesson – sugar is one of those items. Most simple carbohydrates and processed foods (which usually include sugar and simple carbohydrates) can also be addicting.
The more we eat these foods, the more of them we need in order to be satisfied. In addition, these foods alter our biochemistry and force us to eat more than our bodies actually need.
The good news is, this is the easiest one to fix. Once you flush your system of these addictive foods, you will become less and less chemically addicted, which is the first step. Then you just have to deal with the cravings or habits left behind in your brain.
This brings us to the next area of focus.
At the primal level, a human’s goal is to avoid pain and seek pleasure (with the least amount of effort). Whenever we eat something for the first time, we are making a decision in our brain about whether this brings us pain or pleasure. Once these associations are encoded in our brain, science is now showing they are hard (if not impossible) to break. What we have to do is to create more powerful habits around the existing ones.
How to make permanent change
Lasting, permanent change comes not only from learning what food to eat, but from really understanding the power of habits:
- Becoming aware of and understanding our old (unhealthy) habits
- Creating and reinforcing new healthy habits
- Making these new habits something we do not have to think about, so they are automatic and no longer require willpower
We have already started working on this process in this program.
The Nutrition – Learning to feed ourselves the right foods at the right time. How to structure a nutritional plan that works for us. Starting to pay attention to foods that make us feel good versus those that make us feel bad.
Education – You have to get educated on food and how if affects every aspect of your health and weight. It’s an ongoing process and you will need some good resources The more tidbits of nutrition education you have, the easier it will be to make better choices in your life.
you cannot rely on willpower (in the long-term) to make healthy choices.
We only have so much willpower and by the end of our busy day, it is in limited supply. If your strategy relies heavily on willpower, you will struggle to make good choices over the long haul.
The next steps will be to Reprogram old habits, Create new healthy habits, and Continue to Learn (eliminate the need for willpower).
These sound like a lot of work, but they are really simple to do. It is just about paying attention. And learning how to manage the triggers & rewards associated with any habit.
Step by step, we are learning how to do that….so, keep it up!