Spring break is coming to a close. Teaching creates ups and downs in life in many ways. Breaks create both an up and a down in respect to my relationship with food. Time to share meals with friends and family rejuvenates us. Those moments bring us into community. The down part is that I eat so much more. But I’ve learned that sharing food with others is vital to living a balanced life, even if I partake in food that I normally wouldn’t.
Throughout the time of break food relationships came up a lot in conversation. A common theme was moderation. In some ways it makes sense. To lose weight we have to eat less calories. Therefore if we eat less of calorie dense foods, we should lose weight. Unfortunately there is a problem with that mentality. Our body wasn’t built for moderation. Our body was made to consume nutrients. The problem with calorie dense foods isn’t that we worry about how much. The problem is that those calories replace nutrient filled calories in our diet. We end up giving up on moderation, not because we are not strong people who have no will power. We give up on moderation because our body is nutrient starved.
When we attempt to put ourselves into a state of moderation we end up playing all kinds of games with ourselves. I can eat this whole huge serving of wings (something I actually did last night) because I didn’t eat anything earlier today. But where are the nutrients in those wings? The honey bbq sauce surely was filled with empty calories. I didn’t approach those wings from a sense of moderation. We were out with friends. I wanted wings. So I ate a bunch of wings fully knowing that they were not great for me. Here’s the thing. I ate a bunch of Spinach and fruit earlier in the day. I made sure I was mostly covered in respect to nutrients.
My wife tends to ridicule me by saying such things as, “Dan just eats a bunch of leaves for lunch and then he feasts on whatever he wants.” Although she speaks some truth, she is not giving the whole picture. I eat mostly plant based foods in my day to day life now. I still eat a little meat and dairy, but typically at supper after I’ve consumed nutrient rich whole plant foods. I also rarely eat things like wings now. Therefore when I do, I eat a bunch of wings and enjoy it.
This has taken away the mental games for me. I can have some wings. I can eat a bunch of sun chips, but always after I’ve consumed nutrient rich foods. I also make sure I’m in the mindset that I’m not eating those foods as a reward for my eating behavior earlier. I’m eating those foods because I’m enjoying the moment and those around me.
Moderation will not work long term if you are not feeding your body nutrients. It doesn’t matter if you eat the low carb tortilla or the corn chips instead of sun chips. Your body will need nutrients and at some point you won’t be able to overcome those nutrient cravings. And guess what? Food companies know this and they play to your weakness. They know that your body will crave foods if it is nutrient starved. Food companies want you to eat more, therefore they don’t make nutrient dense foods in general.
Now, I don’t subscribe to the notion that our obesity is the fault of food companies. They are simply supplying us with tasty foods. In the end, we choose to eat those foods. In the end, a nutrient rich body can handle those foods and will actually eat less of them. We have to know what our body needs when we are making food choices. Instead of focusing on what our body shouldn’t have, try focusing on what your body needs.
Do some research on micro-nutrients and your body. Then focus on eating those foods first. You will be able to eat your chips and ice cream and your body will moderate the amount for you, because you will be full of the nutrients your body needs.
Late last year I had influenza A and I was stuck in a room by myself for 5 days. I starting compiling a document with information about micro-nutrients and foods. It is still a work in progress, but check out all of the awesome foods you can eat first to insure you are consuming the micro-nutrients essential to your health.