I’ve been on a spiritual journey for many years now. Trying to find a purpose to life, to my life, to my existence. And I think after all of my searching I’ve come to one conclusion...
Choose to feel good.
I know what you’re thinking. That sounds absurd. But hear me out. Life really is about feeling good. Is it not?
Because obviously, you don’t want to feel bad. Who does?
BUT I know I've definitely been stuck in cycles of feeling bad, of being depressed, anxious, of feeling lethargic, bloated, gross and like I just wanted to crawl in a little ball and be in my negative feelings.
Feeling good is a choice. Just like happiness is a choice.
And I know when I learnt that I was mindblown. Like what do you mean I can choose to be happy? But in truth, when you pursue happiness do you ever truly reach it? Do you feel good, in your pursuit to feel good?
When I began my nutrition career I had very strong opinions on my nutritional philosophy. I believed that the Paleo diet was the be-all-end-all of diets. It’s not that I no longer love the Paleo diet or necessarily changed how I view nutrition. Because what I truly love most about the Paleo diet is the fact that it removes all processed food and focuses on whole foods, nature's foods, foods that our bodies were designed to consume.
But, I’ll admit that my then narrow thinking may not have been the healthiest for my clients. Sure some were on board but not everyone was as die-hard for Paleo as I was. And over the years I’ve worked with vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and those following a ketogenic approach. What I learned from my clients was to soften, to remove labels, and be more accepting. Because as we know, there is no one dietary approach that works for all of mankind. We are as different as our genetic makeup.
What I was missing was showing clients how to get in tune with their bodies. When we clear the noise, as I like to call it, we can begin to hear our body’s messages.
So for instance, I lived on bread and pasta for years. Pasta was, in fact, one of my favourite foods and I would eat it continuously, I also continuously felt lethargic, bloated, heavy and had brain fog. In 2013, I removed gluten from my diet for a period of 3 weeks. What I found was that I had more energy, I didn’t feel bloated and heavy all the time, I could think clearer and I lost a lot of weight. Introducing gluten again left me with the same lethargic, bloated feeling that I used to believe was just how it was. I didn’t know that my normal wasn’t normal.
Once I removed gluten from my diet, I was able to get in tune with my body and provide it what it really needed to thrive. Lots of vegetables, quality protein and dietary fat!
With a little guidance and a meal plan, I now encourage my clients to choose foods that make them feel good. And to limit foods that don’t give you that same feeling. That being said I know based on research there are a few foods that I can recognize as being larger triggers for people. And that’s where I start. When clients consume any foods, I repeatedly ask them, and how did you feel afterwards. Which is key for building that self-awareness muscle.
Some of the most effective tools, I've used to build self-awareness are:
1. Simply closing my eyes, taking a deep breath and doing a body scan. Sensing any feelings or sensations I'm experiencing in my body.
2. Keeping a journal about how I'm feeling in my body and what foods I consumed on the last day. This helps to identify which foods make you feel really good and which aren't supporting your health.
3. Meditation is a practice of improving your mindful awareness. Meditation doesn't have to be an hour-long or even a super formal practice. Meditating for as short as 2 minutes still provides benefits. My suggestion to start is to just focus on the breath coming in and out of your nostrils for 2 minutes.