There’s so much Diet Dogma out there, that I think it’s gotten incredibly challenging for people to be intuitive about what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat. I believe our biggest struggles with food are that we are always making it about weight loss or weight gain, good food or bad food, and not about nutrition, nourishment or our own individual physiology.
I wrote and re-wrote and edited this particular blog SO MANY TIMES because there is just a wealth of information to give you on food, on nourishment and on our modern relationship (or lack of relationship!) with our food chain. But, I cut out all the complicated stuff because you guys get bombarded with info like that every day, and decided I’d share the most common misconceptions we come across with our clients.
Mistake 1: You don’t appreciate food as part of the Bigger Picture
The problem: you see food in a league of its own, and don’t correlate seemingly indirect symptoms with the how, what and when you’re eating.
The result: you eat whenever and whatever. Sugar laden foods are messing up your menstrual cycle, your 3pm chocolate and coffee habit wreaks havoc on your sleep, and having your biggest meal at night fuels your body for fat storing.
What you need to know: What, how and when people nourish themselves is almost always top priority because it will affect many other aspects of your health including:
· Circadian rhythm
· Fungus and parasites
· Energy levels
· Immune system
· Training capacity and recovery
I hope by now this blog series has helped you appreciate food is only a slither of what guides your health to spectacular or satisfactory. However, we do place emphasis on nutrition and hydration as the principal drivers to reclaiming and maintaining spectacular health. You literally rebuild your body’s cells from the food you eat, and so what you’re choosing to fuel yourself with is an important responsibility.
Mistake 2: You’ve Got Portion Distortion
The problem: you’ve fallen victim to the “Super Size Me” mentality and believe that bigger is better, or you’re not actually even sure what a “serving size” is.
The result: In a nutshell, you eat whatever is in front of you.
What you need to know: Observe the signs that show you're satiated, rather than just eating everything on your plate for the hell of it. Measure, weigh and count your food just for a few days so you can learn to eyeball your meals and know your portions are roughly within the following guidelines:
Mistake 3: You define yourself by way of a Dogmatic Dietary Discipline
The problem: You’ve fallen in love with a food philosophy you aspire to and you’re following all the rules – so now you’re Keto/Paleo/Primal/Vegan/Vegetarian/Pescatarian/ a Weston A Price disciple/Rawtarian/Fruitarian/LCHF and you’ve cut out food groups on the basis that they don’t fit in with these rules
The result: Your attachment to food labels and someone else’s food philosophies and rules could be creating a disconnection from what your body really needs.
What you need to know: Emma Sgourakis, The Nutrition Coach, sums this up well when she says: “Nutrition wasn’t meant to be religion. It should be based purely on your biological and metabolic needs, to nourish, fuel, replenish, repair, build and satiate, to function optimally and asymptomatically, whatever that needs to be for YOU. And that’s it.”
Here’s Emma’s list of check-ins to see if your “way of eating” is right for you:
Feel balanced, satisfied, in control and free of cravings
Experience streamline, efficient, quiet digestion (food in, nutrients absorbed, tummy flat, waste out)
Have deep, restorative, uninterrupted sleep and wake replenished
Maintain a core body temperature of at least 36.6° through the day and a resting pulse between 75-85
Glide through your monthly cycles comfortably (without menstrual tension or any other hormonal discomforts or fertility struggles)
Maintain a healthy weight and natural muscle tone without extreme exercise and your body retains no unnecessary fat stores (especially not around the belly – equates to adrenaline excess; or on the back – equates to excess estrogen)
Have joints that are supple and agile
Have a temperament that is calm, content; mind is clear and focused (not plagued by anxiety or tension)
Experience consistent energy
Have nails that are smooth, un-ridged, gently curved, spotless and strong
Have a strong appetite from the moment you wake up
Manage stress well and recover from exercise painlessly
Are able to live happily, eat out on occasion, socialize and still feel great (without food-related stress or obsession)
For more on this topic, see Emma’s article, ‘lose the labels: listen to your body’ http://www.thenutritioncoach.com.au/real-food/lose-the-labels-listen-to-your-body/
Mistake 4: You’re being monitored by The Food Police
The problem: You’re always on a diet. The Food Police constantly shout negative words and guilt-provoking indictments because you're "good" for eating under 1200 calories or "bad" because you ate a piece of chocolate.
The result: you’re in a constant state of deprivation, you calorie count, have unrealistic and restrictive dietary guidelines and are in a constant cycle of falling off the band wagon, binge eating and then proclaiming you’ll start again on Monday.
What you need to know: A diet always insinuates a short term effort to "lose weight", not an ongoing lifestyle change which can affect every facet of your life and discovery of yourself (which is SO much more than just weight loss). Calorie counting apps, meal plans and dogmatic dietary philosophies do not teach you this. It keeps you constantly outsourcing the connection between you and your body's signals, and your overarching relationship with food (from a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual perspective). If you tell yourself that you can't or shouldn't have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings, binge eating and then guilt! It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t lose faith – you’re not alone and you can change this mentality with some empowering education. One of our female clients completed our 21 Days of Change program where she honed in on some of her food and lifestyle patterns and commented “I would say that I've always calorie counted, punished myself by skipping meals if I ate something considered bad/ binged on chocolate or ice cream and never ever (despite being constantly nagged by my mum to eat more vegetables) viewed my food as fuel. I just factored in eating naughty things and then would skip the substantial meals to compensate for it. After doing this 21 days and seeing that I can eat good portion sizes and be totally satiated to the point that (generally) I am not craving the sugar and junk is actually amazing. And to see my figure changing and becoming leaner in the process is even more amazing. Plus I've probably cooked more in these 21 days than I ever have before!!!! I'll never go back to having such a screwed up relationship with food ever again.”
Mistake 5: You eat at your desk, in front of a screen or on the run
The problem: you think that the most dedicated, effective workers are constantly available and on-task, and that taking a lunch break is counterproductive.
The result: this is counterproductive to obtaining great health! You have little to no passion or presence of mind about the creative or spiritual connection to food and you miss out on the experience of eating and therefore the satisfaction factor.
What you need to know: Research shows that there are tremendous performance advantages to stepping away from your computer and even more plusses if you can get outside.
“Taking a break from cognitively taxing work improves creative thinking,” says Kimberly Elsbach, Professor of Management at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Davis, “and everybody’s job has a creative component, such as problem-solving, managing teams or finding creative solutions.
“For creative thinking, one of the most restorative environments is a natural environment,” she says. So – get outside!
Furthermore, according to data collected using the time-tracking and productivity app ‘DeskTime’, the most productive 10 percent of its users were those who took regular breaks that lasted about 17 minutes each. So for optimal performance at work and better health, step away from your desk and be mindful about your eating.
I encourage you, to at least ONCE, take 6 minutes to do this Guided Eating Meditation to give you a greater appreciation for the foods you eat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaEeXsDEwEo
Mistake 6: It’s not hunger driving your desire to eat
The problem: you keep getting tricked by the 3 facades of hunger: MCC, thirst, emotional avoidance.
The result: you’re constantly snacking or eating because you think you’re hungry and because the clock is telling you to eat, but you are missing the basic physiological signs of hunger.
What you need to know: “Being hungry is like being in love, if you don’t know, you’re probably not” (a quote by Geenen Roth).
If you're hungry, drink 250ml of water, wait 20mins and see if you're still actually hungry.
The Migrating Motor Complex (MMC): If you hear your stomach growling it's probably this process happening, not signs of physical hunger! This is the "guy" who comes in and sweeps your digestive system. He cleans up all the stuff, like indigestible food & any bacteria, from the small intestine and into the colon. So you can get ready to poop it out! He comes and does his job about every 2 hours and he can ONLY work during fasting. His job is interrupted when you eat. So if you consume any food while he's working - he stops straight away and doesn't finish the job! That's why a fasting period of some sort is crucial, and grazing constantly throughout the day isn't ideal for most people because it stops the MMC process (this can lead to IBS symptoms and other bacterial problems).
Last but not least, honour your feelings without using food - find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life and food won't fix any of these feelings.
Mistake 7: You’re making healthy eating complicated.
The problem: powders, potions and pills, superfoods you’re cupboard has it all but you have no idea what to do with it all. You’re constantly trying to decipher ingredients on packaged foods, of words you can’t pronounce, bamboozled if it’s a food or a product and every meal you make has to look “insta-worthy”.
The result: You’re taking the Masterchef of Superfoods to the extreme and you’ve forgotten the K.I.S.S. principle.
What you need to know: Your K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sally) Checklist:
Check point 1: Is it off a tree, from the ground or from an animal?
Check Point 2: Is it made up of one ingredient?
You should be able to answer “yes” to both of these questions!
Let’s use the example of, an apple. Check Point 1: Yes! It’s from a tree. Check point 2: Yes! An apple is made up of one ingredient – apple!
Food first. Not powders, potions pills or supplements. Get the basics right and then you can delve into the greater hierarchy of sourcing grass fed meats, organic plants and foods with greater vitality.
In summary, challenge yourself and question your beliefs. Be informed. Get educated on the basics of the human body and its digestive system. Read, read, read and look for independently funded scientific research (as opposed to industry funded research). Do all this, then listen to your body and see how it responds.
Always bring it back to physiology and keep things specific to you. And if you’ve become too confused by it all and don’t know where to begin, that’s where I can help.