How to Eat to live and Not Live to Eat
Why do you eat? You might think the answer is simple: because you are hungry. But approaching so foundational an aspect of your overall health deserves a little more contemplation than that.
In truth you might eat for any number of reasons. Perhaps you are stressed out after a hard day at work and seek solace in an entire sleeve of cookies. (We have all done that.) Maybe you are eating in response to any number of other emotions – negative or positive – or are observing some cultural practice. Simply eating three meals a day at their respective times is a cultural practice in and of itself!
But living your healthiest life requires putting greater conscious effort into your eating habits. To do this is to eat with purpose. Eating with purpose means that you select foods which will advance larger health goals, be they losing weight, obtaining more energy for physical exercise, improving your mental acuity, or virtually anything else. Eating with purpose is surprisingly easy!
Reevaluate the Role of Food in Your Life
Do you have a complicated relationship with food? Without going against anything which your doctor or therapist may have advised, try to reapproach how you view sustenance. Rather than dreading what you cannot or should not eat, instead focus on what you get to eat.
Find joy in the crispness of a carrot, the astringency of a celery stick, and the multitextured complexity of unadorned whole grain bread. Whole, natural foods possess such astounding properties that will never be replicated in a science lab. Learn not to take them for granted, and you’ll have found a whole new way to appreciate healthful foods!
Indulge With Care
John Steinbeck once wrote “I’ve … taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.” While we would not advise drinking to excess under any circumstances, we do appreciate Steinbeck’s wisdom here: It is okay to indulge (on occasion) so long as you accept the outcome with a healthy mindset.
Should you march through life totally depriving yourself of ice cream, saltwater taffy and monster cookies? No – self-deprivation may be highly thought of in certain monastic circles, but it can also breed an unhealthy mindset of abstinence. Guilt and regret burn no calories.
Eating with purpose means that you should satisfy a particular craving when it occurs to you, accept what that introduction of fat, salt or sugar will do to your body, and proceed guiltlessly throughout your day. Balancing that decision by eating more healthful foods and exercising during that day is eating with purpose!
Pausing for a moment to give thanks for your food doesn’t require religious observance. Merely expressing gratitude for the farmer who grew it, the trucker who transported it, or the grocer who stocked it will also make you value the experience of eating it just a little bit more. It is hard to eat mindlessly when you view your cup of yogurt as a massive, multispecies effort undertaken to provide you with a spell of satisfaction.
Being grateful for your food extends to the way you enjoy it. Take time to linger on every bite, taking note of each of its qualities. Dwelling on a food’s nuanced flavors and textures doesn’t just make eating more rewarding. It also slows down your eating, which will give your stomach the time it needs to release the hormone which reduces hunger. To eat slowly is to avoid overeating!
Pick Foods That Are in Line With Your Health Goals
The foods you eat have a massive impact on your well-being. Choosing foods that are good for various aspects of your health doesn’t just provide the obvious benefit – it also causes you to put more thought into what you take home from the grocery store. You are less likely to buy chips and cookies once you appreciate how little they do for your overall well-being!
- Strong bones: foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D including dairy, seeds, sardines, salmon, tuna, beans, lentils, almonds, spinach, rhubarb, egg yolks, mushrooms and orange juice.
- Clear skin: foods that are rich in vitamin C including cherries, chili peppers, red peppers, oranges, blueberries, citrus fruits, fresh thyme, parsley, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and strawberries.
- Mental acuity: Foods that are rich in omega−3 fatty acids including anchovies, herring, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna, and fortified foods such as margarine, milk, juice and yogurt.
- More energy: Foods that are rich in potassium, carbs and vitamin B6 including bananas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, eggs, apples, quinoa, oatmeal, yogurt, hummus, lentils, avocados, oranges, strawberries, nuts and leafy greens.
- Cardiovascular health: Foods that positively impact blood pressure and cholesterol levels including berries, tomatoes, almonds, avocados, leafy greens, walnuts, dark chocolate, beans, olive oil, whole grains, fatty fish, seeds and garlic.
Would you like more guidance on how to eat with purpose? Calhoun Spine & Wellness’s very own registered dietician is available to help you foster more purposeful and healthful eating habits. We welcome you to contact us today to schedule a consultation!