5 Dietary Habits for a Perfect Body
An online personality test recently confirmed that I’m a “reformer.” I’m also a bluntly bossy oldest child, and one cultural morsel that starves the sweetness right out of my soul is the collective insanity around our bodies and food. If you’ve been swept up in this madness, as I have, I’d like to try today to reform your diet. I’m only bossing you because, I blush to admit, I’ve been there, and I really care.
You deserve to enjoy living in your body. While many accomplish this, for many of us there’s a body we envision that differs from the one we occupy. We wish our bodies were taller or smaller or curved more attractively, based on some standard or another. Often, failing to enjoy ourselves, we console our general dissatisfaction with unhealthy habits that do our bodies harm. Are you stuck in that rut? If yes, I’ll boldly promise the impossible: happy eating and bragging rights to an amazing body. Are you ready? Here are five fun things you can start doing immediately:
Habit #1: Eat
First things first: food is amazing. Your survival depends upon it. You must enjoy food to the best of your ability. Respectful of any intolerances, prescriptive constraints or appetite limits due to illness or sadness, you must throw yourself at your food. You must let it wash into your system like the sun shining inside you.
Habit #2: Eat Food
You are what you eat, and real food grows miraculously right out of the ground. It pulls nutrients right out of the soil. The actual sun sinks into the actual food to then sink into the cells of your very body.
Some people think that in order to avoid overeating, they need to hate food. No, the reverse! You need to really love food. If you truly love it, you won’t tolerate processed, phony, fake foods that basically just get you addicted to salt and sugar, contributing a big nothing-burger to your beautiful body. Learn to cook. Can you fry an egg? Mmmmmmm.
It’s helpful to separate one kind of food from another, and appreciate what they each offer. Ice cream is an incredible sweet explosion of emotional nourishment, but with so much refined sugar, it’s better for birthdays that for lunch. If your lunch wants some sugar, OMG, have you had an apple lately? Some foods are nutrient-dense, some richly filling. Some stick sweetly to your lips, while others are refreshing and mildly detoxifying. Within your means, eat the widest array of food you possibly can, including lots of fresh foods in season that grow in the same region where you live, because they’re simply more delicious and satisfying. Every cooked vegetable is amazing with a little salt and butter, or olive oil if you’re vegan.
Habit #3: Taste the Food
Chewing is the first step of digestion, and you can’t properly absorb your food’s nutrients if you swallow it whole. When you allow each bite to stay on your tongue a bit longer, it’s not only healthy, but you actually taste it, and, oh my god, it’s delicious! It’s a hidden dimension of flavor I didn’t know existed until I tried it.
Taking the time to taste gives your palate a chance to develop. Some foods are cold and creamy, some give good chew. Some crunch, while others pop juicily under the pressure of your teeth. When you take the time to taste, you develop the ability to weed out factory-made faux-flavors that only hook you into abusing a deadly substance. That’s not eating. That’s transforming your hunger into capital. Don’t sell out your appetite!
Habit #4: Eat Slow
When you slow down, you know when you’re full, and you give yourself time to realize you’re satisfied before you ruin the whole experience with a sense-dulling third helping. Be honest: when has overeating ever really felt good? You can’t cartwheel too well on a full stomach. Celebrations can include feasting, and I wouldn’t hesitate, but chronic overeating only deadens the experience. Remember, you can’t eat again until you stop. It’s a known fact that you sleep better if you go to bed just a bit hungry (and looking forward to breakfast).
Compulsive eating isn’t eating, it’s a tic. Count yourself capable of uncovering whatever is driving that.
When you take your time eating, your mind has a moment to forget pressures of the day, and to ponder deeper questions. You might, for instance, wonder how you got the idea to allow faceless entities to transform your self-doubt into market shares, to dictate how your body should look from the ad-saturated glow of their pervasive media, and to then hawk fancy diets, phony detox foods and bizarre exercises in self-torture to cure the problem that didn’t exist before they invented it. You want to “look good” for your partner or passersby? Fine, but pause to consider how much of your well-being you’re willing to hand over to the opinions of others when you could just sit right in your own body and enjoy it.
Habit #5: Use the Food
There’s only one reason for nutrients, and that’s to power your body. Grab the power! At a bare minimum, fight diseases, keep your heart beating and your neural pathways forming. But take it further: indulge in large and small motor activity. Pick up a shovel or a pencil, brush a kid’s hair, carry a stack of books, play handball, take a hike or take the stairs. Your body wants to move, and will reward you with a wonderful appetite to satisfy when the activity is over.
My Foolproof Guarantee
You need to spend quality time with your food, both cooking and eating. A “diet” is nothing more than the type of food you habitually consume. If you can’t survive without it, then you might as well suck everything out of it that you possibly can. If you make yourself real food, if you chew it and love it, if you slurp it slowly and seize its power, consuming mindfully while licking your fingers and beautifully satisfied inside and out, then it’s 100% guaranteed that your body will be perfect. Mine is. Consider yourself reformed.
I put my feet up to plan my Halloween Feast. With due apologies to pumpkin-haters I know, allow me to introduce the rest of you to this kick-ass recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. They taste great after a long walk.