In 2011 I set about on a journey to regain my health – a series of dietary experiments. You can read the backstory here. Prior to beginning these trials, I had used an elimination diet to clear up a systemic Candida infection. I was also healing my gut/digestion through the intensive application of probiotics via fermented foods and beverages, and it worked, because cultured food is magical!
In January my goal was simply to Make The Healthier Choice.
Heading into the new year, I was coming from a place of poor health and poor food choices. Which made sense of course – I was coming off the holiday season! Ugh.
I’m usually a “diver” type, but starting out on this great grand diet trial, I decided to wade in slowly. I was going for sustainability, after all, not impact. So January was all about:
1) reconnecting with my food intuition
2) tuning back in to my body.
After the sugar-shocked and over-indulged era that marks the winter holidays, my palate was completely skewed and my body’s expectations were unrealistic. Which meant I had to work to make the healthy choice become my new habitual choice.
“Leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast?”
“Hmmm, how about pumpkin-spiced oatmeal instead?”
Those was the sort of iterative improvements I was making. Nothing too drastic or ground-breaking. This was about being mindful and conscious in my food choices, and you know what? That can be hard enough.
But mindful eating is not just about making a good choice and then calling it a day. True mindfulness requires follow-through. Let me explain.
We all notice a physical change after drinking a cup of coffee, right? Or having a glass of wine? (or two?) These are normal responses – prompted by caffeine or alcohol – and since they’re expected, we’re aware of them. But what if you tried to notice the changes that occur after having . . . a green smoothie? A bowl of beans? Does your body react after drinking green juice? Does your mood shift at all in the minutes after you eat a sugary pastry? What about an hour after eating a sugary pastry? How do you feel when your dinner is mostly fresh? How do you feel when your dinner is mostly from a box?
There’s a lot of talk about “listening to your body” in the health word. “Listen to your body language!” the gurus like to say. But I think that’s only half of the equation. How much can you really learn from just listening???
I decided I needed to stop listening – and start talking back! So in January, that’s what I practiced – having a conversation with my body.
I learned a lot in those four weeks – enough to direct my investigations throughout all of the following months. I didn’t come away with a set of conclusions, but I did secure a series of important threads to pursue.
I know (I guess I should say I believe, since I can’t prove it) that different people require different proportions of macronutrients. With this in mind, I was able to observe how my cravings, emotions, satiety, and stability would change from day to day depending on the amounts of fat/protein/carbohydrate I was eating.
As well, I learned how to read the difference between a “tongue” craving and a “body” craving. That is, an emotional craving versus a nutritional one. Once that difference became clear, the question of whether or how to honor the craving was so much more straightforward.
January came and went. But it left in it’s wake a lot of promise.
Next up: February, and the fun really begins . . .
Edited to link in the rest of the series: