One thing that helps me the most when I choose what to eat is to remember why I eat in the first place. Food is fuel. And what I choose to eat for fuel makes a big difference in how light my body feels.
With one sugar-filled holiday down and two more to go before the end of the year, I felt like now was a good time to talk about eating light. There is no question that what we eat either makes us feel physically and mentally light or very, very heavy.
So how do we eat to feel lighter?
For me, it’s come down to being mindful and deliberate about why, what, and when I eat. And just so you don’t think I have this all figured out, let me assure you that I am most definitely a work in progress in this area! Maybe I’m writing this post at this time of the year for me more than anyone! Yep, pretty sure that’s true. But if it helps you too, please come along for the journey!
First, let’s talk about why we eat. The answer seems obvious, but do you remember that “why” every time you put something in your mouth? Nope. Me either. But the bottom line is, food is fuel. We eat to keep our bodies going. That’s kind of important. And just like we wouldn’t put salt water instead of gasoline in our car and expect it to run at top performance, we have to be deliberate about putting things in our bodies that will actually give it the fuel it needs to run well. Eating to keep our bodies light starts with choosing foods that provide good fuel and aren’t full of rubbish that make us heavy.
Second, let’s talk about what foods are good fuel. While there are whole blogs and books and institutes that cover this topic, I’ll just cover a few basics here that help me.
Something I heard recently that really resonated with me is that our Creator didn’t put us on a planet without providing us with the fuel we need. It’s all here. The fuel we need grows right here on Earth with us. We just need to choose it. For me this means choosing whole, natural foods. There is a beautiful abundance of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and meats (sparingly) that we can eat to give us the fuel we need.
Actually, I don’t think that’s the hard part. The hard part for me is sifting through the additional stuff that’s overflowing the supermarket shelves to find the whole, natural foods. Seriously, have humans complicated food, or what?? I still get a little anxiety when trying to lighten up my grocery shopping experience, but I’ve got a few tips to help make planning what to buy at the store a little lighter.
Third, let’s talk a little about when to eat. This really goes back to our “why” if you think about it. When we wake up in the morning, our bodies need some good fuel to get it going. Enter, breakfast! Choosing foods that will power up our engines for the day will make a huge difference in our morning. One of my favorite go-to breakfasts is this granola. Whole grain, healthy fat, plant protein, and a touch of sweetness keeps me feeling light!
In the middle of the day, your body is ready for some more nutrients. Enter, lunch! Again, choosing a variety of whole foods will give you the energy you need to power on through the afternoon. I’m a huge fan of the “buddha bowl” which combines small portions of whole grains, lean protein or beans, an assortment of vegetables, and sometimes fruits, nuts, or seeds. I seriously love these so much! And eating them makes my body feel so light! Not weighed down and sleepy after lunch (not helpful!)
In the early evening, our bodies are ready for more fuel, but this is a little different. Our evenings are not usually as energy-intense… unless you’re performing at a rock concert or trying to get 5-year old twin boys to bed… but you know what I mean! Eating dinner is more about replenishing our body from the work it did during the day and preparing it to do it’s healing work overnight while we sleep. For this reason, I try to keep our dinners light and we eat at 6:00 pm. I also have a “no eating after 8:00 pm” rule for myself. Anything I eat after that time just seems to sit in my stomach. Heavy.
I have to admit, I’m also a snacker. I like to eat smaller meals more often than just three big meals. But my snacks (usually at 10am and 3pm) are usually just something like an apple and some nuts. Just a handful or two of some whole foods to keep me going. My little boys with their little bodies and their high metabolism do well with eating five times a day too.
OK. It’s time to talk about treats.
I have learned that I have a sugar addiction. Not surprisingly, since the way refined sugar acts in our body lends itself to addictive behaviors. I have also learned that I am very sensitive to refined sugar. As in, it drops my body and mind in a dark hole. As hard as it is for me to say “no” to these treats as often as I do I can’t do that to myself!
Now, I’m not a no-sugar-ever person. I’ve just learned to be very deliberate in what treats I choose to consume. You can decide what is right for you and your body and mind, but I thought I’d share what I’m (currently) doing.
First, during the week, I limit my treats to one little piece of chocolate (preferably dark) after dinner. Second, on the weekends or special occasions, I’m more lenient. However, I’m very picky about what I’ll eat. I’ve given up candy (the straight sugar kind). It doesn’t even appeal to me anymore. If I eat “candy” it’s only chocolate.
And if I eat a baked item (cookies, cake, etc.) I keep the portion size small and only eat it if I really like it! I’ve learned I can pass on most store-bought baked goods that come in packages. They don’t actually taste good to me! And I know they’re often full of ingredients that aren’t good for my body or mind. I’m more likely to have a small piece of homemade pie or a cookie. I read somewhere about one woman who decided to only eat treats that she homemade herself. That way it took more effort to get and it had ingredients that she knew about and approved! Interesting idea!
Although, recently my husband asked me to make my homemade cinnamon rolls. I hadn’t made them for a while, and so I agreed. I had forgotten that the recipe I had makes 40 rolls! And oh my golly, they are so good. I made the very big mistake of eating FIVE rolls in one day. Yep. I’m admitting it. And do you know what? I felt so sick! Of course I did! And the next two days, my brain was in a black fog. It wasn’t pretty. But it was a good reminder of why I have to be so deliberate in choosing what treats (and how many!) I will consume. Yikes.
So as the end-of-the-year holidays march their treats past me the next few months, I won’t say “no” and deprive myself completely, but I will be very deliberate about what I’ll choose to say “yes” to. After all, I don’t want to spend these wonderful celebrations feeling heavy, sick, and black-fog-brained!
What do you do to keep your eating lighter?