“What would you say is like, the healthiest food?”
I’ve been asked this question many times. In the past, I really didn’t know how to answer it. My own ego-driven attempt at trying to “sound like a nutritionist” led me to mumble out some vague response about how “there is no healthiest food, all in moderation, eat the rainbow…blah, blah, blah.”
In a recent epiphany I realized the route of this question is actually the search for an answer to a much more powerful one: “How do I eat”?
In truth, for most of my life, I couldn’t even answer that question for myself. How do I eat? How much should I eat? What’s a calorie? What should I eat, and when? Which diet is best, who do I listen to? Where do I buy it, how much should it cost? How do I cook it, do I have to cook it? Where can I eat out? Is all restaurant food unhealthy? How do I know if a food is healthy? Is gluten really bad? Is dairy bad? Are carbs okay? How much protein do I need? What even is protein, anyway? So fat is okay now? What about saturated fat?
Screw it, I’m getting cheese fries.
I mean really, no wonder everyone is so confused. Including myself.
Start listening to your body.
The funny thing is though, we always look for outside sources to tell us what to do. The problem with that of course, is there are literally billions of outside sources with an opinion on food.
What I’ve recently learned, and what has started the path to setting me free of a lifetime of dietary struggle, is that my body knows exactly what it needs at any given point in time. And so does yours.
The trick is learning how to listen to your body.
This seems abstract and challenging only because we have spent our entire lives knowing nothing about how this is done, but it is truly so much simpler than it seems.
It takes a quieting down of the mind, and settling into the body in a way that many of us have never done. It takes viewing your body from a different lens – from viewing it as something that needs fixing and is perpetually confusing, to an intelligent vessel that is remarkably capable of the amazing when given what it needs to thrive.
It knows what it needs, and you will too once you learn to trust it.
How do you listen to your body?
So, how is this done? It’s done under the careful diligence of asking the body what it needs, and then giving it just that.
Take three deep breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth before literally asking your body, “What do you need?”
Sit in the stillness and see what comes up. Perhaps, the answer won’t be food at all. Maybe it will be water, or sleep, or exercise, or a shower.
Perhaps though, it tells you it needs some green leafy vegetables, and some brown rice. Some healthy protein. See what comes to you first and go with it. Trusting your first gut intuition is key.
When it comes to eating time, take the time to observe the food you have in front of you. Feel gratitude for the fact that you are able to receive food. Many millions of people on this planet do not have this essential luxury. Be grateful and appreciative to yourself for providing your body what it asked for.
Now, take your time. Eat slowly.
I typed out that last sentence subconsciously holding my breath, because this has been by far – more than anything else – my greatest challenge in my relationship to food.
When you are a fast eater, it is extremely challenging to take on a new habit of slowing down. It takes a firm dedication to this new skill to make it work. A quiet promise to yourself right now will not cut it in the long run, you have to remind yourself multiple times a day that you are now a slow, deliberate eater. Leave yourself notes on the fridge, in your pantry, even in your car. Set alarms on your phone that remind you to be mindful of how you eat. Do whatever it takes to let this new way penetrate your subconscious. I know how hard it is, but I also know that it can be done.
Give yourself pause.
Stop eating halfway through your meal. Quiet your mind again and ask “What do you need?” Sit in the silence, and wait for the answer.
If it answers that it needs more food, continue with your mindful eating. Perhaps though, your body will tell you that it is satisfied. In which case, you honor it’s wishes.
The more you practice this, the easier it becomes. The mind-body connection grows stronger and the appreciation you have for your body will reach an all time high. You both will thrive under this kind of loving relationship.
Get off the diet treadmill.
Here is your permission from the nutritionist’s mouth to stop dieting. Today. DO NOT FOLLOW ANY DIET PLAN EVER AGAIN. Weight Watchers, Dr. Oz, Jillian Michaels and whoever else ain’t got shit on what your body knows about what works for you, so stop listening to anyone who claims that they do.
Your body isn’t going to give you answers that will make you “lose 10 lbs. in one week!” like Cosmo might. It won’t give you answers that will even necessarily make you lose ten pounds in one month. What it will do is give you the answers it needs to thrive.
By thrive, I mean fight disease, have boundless energy, repair damage and sleep well. And yes, weight loss is very often associated with these things as well. What you will find is that slowly, but surely, and most definitely more enjoyably, your body will find alignment with it’s ideal weight. You will be happy with this weight, because it is your perfect weight.
But, if you only clicked on this post because the title intrigued you and you truly want to know what the number one healthiest food is, my answer is this:
The healthiest food brings to life memories of times gone by in which you were happy and taken care of. The healthiest food energizes your body with an array of nutrition that jump starts your organs to perform at their best. The healthiest food is colorful and beautiful and varies in textures and flavors. The healthiest food is that perfect and creamy bite of chocolate and that bowl of roasted vegetables.
The healthiest food is all of these things, and more.
This, my friends, is freedom.
Lots of Love,