Now that we are practicing being kind and loving to our miraculous bodies, we can start choosing foods that make us feel joyful!
Do you connect your emotions to foods? When I am depressed or angry I dive into a pile of oreo cookies or a giant bowl of Bunny Tracks ice cream. I realize I am trying to fill a hole in my life with food. Food is always there. It never talks back, it never judges me, it never tells me no. Food is comforting. But, in those times of depression, sadness, or anger, is it really food that I need? Most likely not. Though sometimes a lack of food will bring on some of these emotions and food will actually help us feel better, but this isn’t always the case.
What about the opposite? Do you eat when you are happy, celebrating, and joyful? Yes! We celebrate with birthday cake, pizza, donuts, cookies, and cream-filled chocolate-covered pastries.
So it’s quite obvious that we link our emotions to food.
So how do we use this to our advantage when it comes to eating healthy?
What if we switched things around and instead of eating when we feel sad or happy, we find foods that actually spark joy in our bodies?
God has given us an inner health compass. We are the ultimate authority on what is good or bad for our bodies, we have just lost touch with this gift through years of conditioning. Diet commercials, weight loss pills, mom’s newest diet plan, magazine articles, etc, have told us our whole lives how we should look, what we should eat, and why it’s important to “lose 20 pounds by swimsuit season!”
I want each of you to choose today to take back your authority over you own body! Instead of relying on everyone else’s advice, rely on your inner compass and especially on God’s help (and your doctor, of course). With this in mind, I want you to think about the foods in your kitchen right now. Think about one or two foods in particular right now that would bring health and joy into your life if you ate them.
Feel free to share with us what those foods are. (This is a judgement free zone.)
Are you surprised by what your body is craving?
Here is some back story about me.
I am a health and nutrition fanatic. I love learning about and doing my best to live a healthy life. I believe very strongly that God put foods here on the earth to help us to live to our potential and to heal our bodies.
I started out great, by including more fruits and veggies into our diet, then I started grinding my own wheat and making my own breads and desserts from scratch.
Then I moved on to sourdough starters, probiotics growing on my kitchen counter, soaked and sprouted wheat for my breads, homemade sauerkraut, fresh pressed juice, green smoothies, organic veggies only, grass fed and free range meats, no processed sugar, no natural sugars, switching to coconut and almond flour, only drinking raw milk, only eating raw veggies . . .
I started out on the right road and over a matter of years I spiraled more than a little out of control.
Then I realized that I was spending HOURS in the kitchen everyday OBSESSING about food! I was stressed out and I didn’t feel like my foods were ever healthy enough or clean enough to eat. I ended up eating very little and constantly worrying about whether I was poisoning my kids with the food I was giving them.
This is an actual eating disorder. It’s called Orthorexia and it’s very real. My case was very milk and luckily I was able to take a step back and see what was happening and I saw that my obsession with food was making me so STRESSED that I would most likely die much quicker of a stomach ulcer or stroke from high blood pressure before I would die from some cancer-causing ingredient in that non-organic food I ate.
So I let out the reins and I realized that food can be healthy, taste good, and also be easy and stress free. I chose to keep some of my healthy food practices and dump others that were not serving me well in my life. Life is meant to be lived, not just lived in the kitchen cooking all day.
So I’m going to share with you what works for me. I’m not a licensed nutritionist. I am a nutrition groupie and I have read and learned a lot, and I believe I have a lot of useful insights to share.
#1. Ask your body what it wants and follow the Word of Wisdom. If it’s been a while, re-read the Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants section 89). Then, ask and pray about what you should be eating, and listen with the intent of knowing what would be the most useful foods for your body. If you are craving chocolate it is ok to have a little, just don’t overdo it. If your cravings are really intense you may be missing out on some vital nutrients. For instance, an intense craving for chocolate may mean that you are low on magnesium, which is found in chocolate.
#2. Try new things! I just learned about 6 months ago that I LOVE sweet potatoes! I eat them mostly for breakfast with coconut oil and cinnamon and they make me feel great! I would have never bought them 6 months ago because my hubby isn’t a fan, but I wanted something new for breakfast and lunch and I knew they were full of good vitamins and minerals. They are now one of my favorite foods ever! Don’t be afraid to try new foods, especially fruits and veggies. Maybe you can ask your friends and family about their favorite veggie recipe and try it out. Also, remember that some foods take a few tries for your taste buds to get used to.
#3. Don’t obsess about food. If you are talking and thinking about food constantly it’s usually a sign that your body needs something. You aren’t getting enough calories or you are missing nutrients, or you possibly could have an addiction. Pray about it and try to see why you are obsessed. When I cut all sugars out of my diet I felt great, but I was super obsessed with food and I talked about it to everyone. It was because my body and brain were being starved of vital carbohydrates and that’s all I could think about. Now that my diet is more balanced I still LOVE to talk about food but I no longer feel like I am obsessed or that I need to tell anyone else what they should be eating.
#4. ENJOY IT! Food should be fun, right? We love the tastes and textures. I noticed that the more processed, sugar and salt laden food I ate the more I couldn’t appreciate the subtle sweetness of a fresh strawberry, the pleasantly bitter taste of romaine lettuce, and even when I was drinking soda I couldn’t even appreciate how refreshing a cold glass of water is. I like to compare processed food to an eardrum-busting Rock and Roll song playing over a quite symphony. The Rock song takes your eardrums to their limits, and for hours or even days later your ears will continue to ring and you can’t hear or appreciate the small quite sounds of the symphony. Once you turn off the Rock music you can finally start to repair your ears so you can hear and enjoy the beauty of the symphony.
Food should bring you joy and energy! Pay close attention to how you feel as you are eating and in the minutes and hours you are finished eating. Your body will tell you if what you ate was good or if you could have made a better choice.
The other side of finding joy in food is finding joy in the preparation of food. I consider food as a hobby for me. I love to cook and bake when I have the time and energy. I do find that cooking can be a burden when I am not prepared or if I am in too big of a hurry.
I recommend starting out by doing what you love in the kitchen. If you love to bake, make it a goal to try new ingredients that are more nutrient dense and have fun with them! And an occasional batch of mom’s homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, with the right ingredients, can be fun, and much healthier treat than a box of grocery store cookies. The most important ingredient we can add to our baking is love.
Find meals that are fast and tasty. I’ll talk about this more in the next section. Pick recipes that look easy and delicious and be brave enough to try new things. This will keep you out of the monotony of cooking every day. I make my kids breakfast every day of the week. I have chosen recipes that I enjoy making, that are quick and easy, and that are nutrient dense. Those seem to be the 3 most important factors for me: 1. Is it fun? 2.Is it fast? 3. Is it healthy?
Your most important factors may be different than mine. I am a SAHM or 4 active kids, I run my own children’s clothing business out of my home, and I am an avid fitness junky. Throw in church,family, school obligations, and hobbies and you get a little bit of chaos and a lot of fun! I have to be able to throw together a meal in no time flat! I’m sure you all can relate!
Now that you are feeling more joy about food and preparing it, let’s move on to step 3: An Ounce of Preperation. (coming soon.)