Food - Friend or Foe?
Since this is the last blog post of this series, I wanted to take a moment to touch on the topic of food in general. I did a post on macronutrients awhile back, but this is more about the mentality surrounding food when trying to achieve your fitness goals.
It’s true that food contributes approximately 80% to your progress. It’s probably one of the more challenging aspects of fitness, but by far the most important. I see far too many people that are doing it all wrong, who don’t understand the purpose of food, who are focused on the wrong aspects of diet, and ultimately, will never achieve their goals or be happy because of it. I hope this blog post will challenge you to reevaluate your thoughts on food and the potentially damaging ways you could be viewing it.
Let’s clear up some misconceptions, first off.
Here’s what DOESN’T work...
Enforcing harsh restrictions
Eating only foods you dislike
Never eating foods you enjoy
Always being hungry
Never feeling full...
All these things are hard on your body, your mind, and your spirit! Starving yourself or limiting yourself so you’re constantly hungry can actually do MORE harm than good. It kills your metabolism, keeps your body from getting the energy and fuel it needs to properly function, and makes you view foods as your enemy. Which is completely incorrect!
Your body NEEDS food. It’s fuel for your body, it’s a GOOD thing. Protein? Good. Carbs? That’s right- GOOD. Fats? You guessed it- they’re GOOD. That is, the right kinds and the appropriate amounts. Check out the blog post on macronutrients for more info on that! So, what’s the deal with all these crazy diets and different ways of eating, then? Is there more than one way of doing things? YES!
For example, I have found that my body functions most optimally on a high protein, moderate to high carb, and low fat “diet” (I say “diet” in the sense of how I eat, not a short term diet to quickly lose weight). I have some blood sugar issues that make low carb more difficult, in addition to not being able to optimally digest higher fat foods. Also, I like bread! So I’m not going to force myself to refrain from eating it. My husband, on the other hand, prefers a “diet” higher in fats, with moderate protein, and very low carbs. He loves fattier meats, and although he likes bread, he enjoys things like cheese more. He also functions better physically and mentally on this type of “diet”. These are maintained for us, because, for the most part, we ENJOY what we’re eating, our bodies LOVE what we’re feeding it for fuel, and in turn, we see POSITIVE physical changes from the way we eat!
Another thing to keep in mind is food sensitivities. Even if you’re not necessarily allergic to a certain food to the point of consumption being a medical emergency, you probably still suffer form some food sensitivities. Don’t feel so hot after eating dairy? Seeing more bloat than usual? Chances are you don’t need a detox tea, but rather you need to take a proactive step in eating less, if any, dairy. Feeling the same way after you eat gluten? Fatty foods? Or whatever else? Make your body and what it’s telling you a priority and feed it things it responds well to, instead of the things it isn’t liking so much.
The point is, don’t be fooled by detox teas, fat-blasting workouts, magical wraps, and miracle diets- they’re all supplementary at best. More times than not, you just need to adopt the perspective of changing your LIFESTYLE and the way you SEE food, rather than trying out another quick fix or short term diet. Food isn’t bad, and when you stop seeing it as the enemy, or something to eliminate, or restrict, or obsess over, you’ll start feeling better and seeing more results. Fuel your body with the proper foods, and it will thank you.
So, here’s what DOES work...
Consistency in your food choices
Not under-eating or over-eating
Selecting foods your body responds well to
Listening to your body when it comes to food
Doing what works for YOU
Viewing food as your friend, not your enemy
Allowing yourself to still eat some of the things you enjoy
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Food is great- and it can be yummy, nutritious, and fulfilling all at the same time. It’s important you understand the why of your food choices, and know that God created food to satisfy our hunger, fuel the amazing bodies He has blessed us with, and to enjoy.