You Are What You Eat…
I have encountered many a disordered pattern of eating as well as very colorful belief systems defying all creativity when it comes to combining, altering, modifying, or eliminating foodstuff or food groups altogether in order to comply with the dogma of the moment. Fat is not a disease we can kill with a pill much like orthodox medicine treats most ailments.
Let’s start by thinking of nutrition as a hands-on activity -rather than a spectator sport, requiring thoughts, planning and effort (what are we eating, how much, and why?). The rewards are priceless: a healthy, aesthetically pleasing and high performing body. You deserve it, so believe it.
For the sake of everyone, I’ll cut straight down to the chase. You are what you eat is more of a pragmatic statement than it is a dogmatic one.
You eat foodstuffs, your body metabolizes them and turns nutrients (macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats as well as micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and water) into beautiful substances like energy substrates (amino acids, fatty acids, glycogen, creatine, ATP, etc) but most importantly trillions of cells.
Those cells are the material which make your body, hence the expression: YOU ARE what you eat.
If you choose to eat poor quality foods, your body will be made of poor quality cells... simple as that.
So far, so good.
Let’s now accept the fact that we all are victims of marketing. Advertisements have us believe that we will not be successful in many aspects of our lives if we do not eat this product or that we are losers if we do not drink this particular beverage. We are driven to believe that if our kids do not eat this particular snack or meal we are bad parents. Much like name brand clothing, food is now defining who we are as individuals and where we stand on the equivocal divides between junk or healthy, good or bad foods, tasty or bland, gastronome or dieter.
Worst of all, ecumenical belief has it that adhering to the only eating regimen ‘approved by the human body’ which consists of lean proteins, legumes, unaltered starches, and vegetables is now considered a diet which is conceptually restrictive and therefore an impediment to “good living”. Television commercials and printed advertisements have the entire planet striving for an epicurean experience at each and every single meal, brainwashing us into favoring gustative delight over nutritious sustenance for our physical vehicles.
What to do? You already know the answer, so you won’t find it in this article. You’ve read it in all the magazines you’ve bought, desperately looking for THE answer to your ever-present and seemingly unique problem. I firmly believe that the limiting factor in all people who struggle with their eating regimen is the lack of knowledge about caloric utilization during all non-physical and physical activities ranging from sleep, to rest, to high intensity exercise to long duration calorie-burning activities (at any intensity level). Nutritionally speaking, knowledge is key, application is crucial, and consistency is the winning factor. None of this is rocket science.
There are over 2,100 registered diets with the FDA, what does that tell you?
The food choices you make are only one side of the equation because the food choices you have when entering a grocery store are very limited if you are seeking to eat unaltered food products, free of government subsidized fillers, sweeteners, and other additives designed to get you shopping for more.
“Food for Thoughts”…
When making decisions as to what to eat, choose to feed your body first, not your head. Adopting a regimented eating pattern, which I will refer to as a lifestyle is crucial in how well your body is able to perform as well as feel and look healthy. A healthy, regimented lifestyle is geared toward feeding the body, not the head.
Diets are temporary and ineffective.
Most people have tried many different types of dieting, some of them even disguised as lifestyles (a cleansing lifestyle, a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for dieting rather than dogmatic purposes, etc…) Diets are geared toward depriving the body of food types, foodstuffs, nutrients, or calories, most often resulting in the development of unhealthy eating patterns (food cravings, binge-eating, over exercising...) where there was previously none, in order to achieve an ideal which is not necessarily our own, further increasing the deprecation of the self coupled with a feeling of failure. Either one's actions are not congruent with their goal or the belief system is faulty.
SURRENDER. QUIT fighting, you won't win. Your body needs NUTRITION, your beliefs (ie YOUR HEAD) needs READJUSTMENT, not the other way around...
If you are constantly looking for the perfect product or food or supplement to help you achieve your goal, you have not even begun to understand what it is you are combating.
Stop looking for something to "MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR YOU" like a breakthrough supplement or ingredient, that is the PASSIVE way to go about life, which is the mindset you are presently in if you chose to follow that procedure. Nothing will make things happen FOR YOU in life but YOURSELF. You've heard it before, and here it is again. YOU must change your habits and YOU must change your lifestyle or NOTHING will change...
Real food is your ONLY option, YOU are your only solution. If you are constantly looking for the perfect exercise or training method to get you to see your 6 pack or tighten your thighs or triceps, or lose 10 lbs by Friday, then you haven't begun to understand the body your crazed brain inhabits...
If you can't rectify or modify your training regimen out of fear of getting ... [insert self-deprecating adjective here] ... you haven't begun to understand your body's overcompensation system (how it becomes toned, lean, muscular, flexible, explosive, endurant, powerful, or whichever other type of change you want to create...) and you are more than likely over trained, malnourished, or a very unhappy dieter for life.
I will outline two categories: food for the head and food for the body. The beautiful thing about this concept is that virtually anyone reading this article knows exactly what types of food I am referring to and everyone already knows what type of food one should eat, how much of it and how often, in order to achieve the physique and performance level they desire. So can we really fault the food itself or the person’s behavior, beliefs, or patterns when it comes to nourishment?
Body Foods: Lean Proteins (meat, fish, eggs, tempeh, miso, natty, Seitan) , legumes (beans and peanuts), fruits and vegetables, non-processed starches (brown rice and all potatoes), and non processed dairy (good luck on that one!) These are the only choices our Creating Force left us to feed our bodies.
Everything else has been manufactured for your pleasure and not your health. You must be willing to purchase, prepare, cook, store, pack, and eat these foods if you want to have a serious chance at health and looks. You can make these foods as bland or as exciting as you please, you are the chef so the complaints go directly to yourself.
Head Foods: two sub-categories here:
- The foods that we consume for pleasure, not life sustenance. They can be sweet or savory, so name you pleasure/poison here. We tend eat too much of them as we humans tend to want to prolong pleasurable moments as much as possible.
- The foods that we consume to palliate hunger or alleviate the guilt of eating more calorie-dense foods in an attempt to lose or maintain a certain weight. They are fillers and do not provide nutrition, but rather temporary satiety without calories (eating salads, leafy greens, juicing, liquid diets, detoxification regimens, and other calorie-sparse foodstuff).
A healthy lifestyle is a non-depriving and regimented eating pattern consisting of regularly scheduled daily meals from the “body food” category mixed with occasional servings (or meals) of the “head food” category.
Having stayed true to my aforementioned disclaimer that no miracle answer would be found in this article, I hope that I have been able to pique your interest in identifying your beliefs (I am a meat and potatoes person, I am a vegan, I can’t cook, carbohydrates make you fat, I don’t want to be bulky, etc…) your behaviors (I don’t grocery shop, I don’t eat breakfast, I don’t exercise, I don’t eat vegetables, I have to eat bread, etc…) and your patterns (not making time for breakfast, exercise, shopping, not eating enough, eating once a day, daily starbucks or frozen yogurt or glass of wine, etc…) so that you can prioritize, organize, and define a functional lifestyle. In return, this lifestyle will indeed define who you are.
Change your Actions, or Change Your Goal…