What is healthy eating anyway?
On a recent show about food, someone said that “if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, then it’s probably best not to eat it.”
We’re all trying to live a healthy lifestyle, and diet is a vital part of this quest. Vegetarian, vegan, raw, macrobiotic, paleo, wholefoods… Each of these dietary templates make a lot of sense, but which one is right for me? And why is it that some of these diets work for some people, but not others?
There is so much conflicting and contradictory information out there, it can be difficult to make the right choices. Of course, organic, local products are best, but what about the nitty-gritty? Calories, protein, carbs, food combinations, meat, dairy, supplements… When we start calculating everything we eat, it can actually become quite stressful.
Am I getting enough vitamins and the necessary minerals? Am I certain that what I’m eating is clean? And just because I’m eating as cleanly as I can, is it even good for me?
A few years ago I embarked on a Mediterranean diet. I was consuming only the best local foods: avocado, tomatoes, oranges, olive oil… Soon, I started feeling unwell. I had low energy and strange sensations around my heart. I looked into this and my blood test results showed that I had too much potassium in my body. If left unchecked (and if I kept eating all these amazing foods in extremity), my diet could have led to serious heart and kidney problems. Whoa! And here I was, eating what I’d been told was good for me.
We are all unique beings, made up of different chemical compositions, so it’s unfair to say that what works for me is also good for you. That’s why I find it dangerous when I see so-called health gurus promoting supplements that push one lifestyle versus another. Each of us needs nourishment to suit our own body and lifestyle, and we need to carefully experiment to discover what truly nourishes us. The big challenge behind this is that the effects of a diet, or a change in diet, take months, even years to manifest.
So what can we do?
We can learn to listen to our bodies. What makes me feel good? What am I craving? What foods give me the energy I need to pursue my passions?
Our mental plays a huge role in our physical
The insightful Charles Eisenstein author of The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self says that proper nourishment is not about ‘eat this, don’t eat that’. Just the opposite, in fact. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so why has it become like another set of rules?
Eating is not supposed to be a difficult struggle — especially since we no longer have to hunt down our dinners or make our own cheeses. Eisenstein says that threatening yourself to stop eating a certain way because you’re going to get sick, or fat, simply doesn’t work. Negativity leads to more negativity, and intimidation doesn’t work when trying to implement new habits. Judgment tends to unmotivate.
Instead, Eisenstein suggests that we pay attention to the invisible. Do I feel pleasure or discomfort from eating this food, or from certain eating habits? Our perception plays a big role in how our bodies react to certain things. Have you ever felt like what you were doing was bad for you? And did it become so? What about the opposite...?
If we focus our awareness on how we feel and take intentional steps towards changing our habits, the right path will appear in our lives. And this doesn’t only apply to food! If we’re aligned with our intentions and are consciously present when we choose what to do, or what to put into our bodies, the best answer will make itself known. Merely paying attention to something will change who we are as a chooser.
And what about detox?
While most nutritionists don’t necessarily agree on what we should eat, they do seem to be on the same wavelength on the importance of detoxification. Many believe that bad health comes either from a lack of minerals or from having too many toxins in our body — or both.
Detoxification may sound scary, but in fact, it’s relatively simple. We detox through breathing, sweating, and of course going to the bathroom. Therefore exercise, moderate fasting, and periodic colon cleansing can ensure our toxicity levels are low. There are also herbal tinctures and teas that are excellent for detoxifying different parts of our bodies.
Food sustains us, and we all know it plays a vital role in our wellbeing.
Whatever our past experience in the way we feed ourselves and our relationship with food, it’s always possible to take things one step further, or perhaps one step less, and make the changes our body asks of us.
And quite possibly, as we heal our eating habits we also heal other aspects of our lives. Focus on the changes you wish to see, and they will come.
What would your life be like if you ate in pure alignment with your needs?