You're hungry and the age old question lingers - What should I eat?
Has food got you confused? Do you get frustrated by the latest ‘nutrition guru’ adding further disarray?
We’re constantly bombarded with mixed messages when it comes to food. Bloggers, Nutritionists, Dieticians, various diets, coaches, they all seem to have a different opinion when it comes to what to eat for health! So, what are we to do?
The solution is quite simple and it really boils down to 3 questions.
The next time you find yourself physically hungry (ie it’s not an emotional need). I encourage you to take a moment to pause and ask yourself:
1. What do I want? 2. What do I need? 3. What do I have?
Sounds simple right? We’ve become so used to following external cues when it comes to food that we’ve lost touch with the basics on how to feed ourselves. And while it is simple, I will be first to admit, it’s not always easy. Let’s break it down.
1. What do I want? Stop and think about all the different possibilities – what is your body craving? Do you want something sweet? Salty? What about texture? Do want something that is creamy or maybe crunchy. You can also consider temperature. Do you want something cold on a hot day or maybe something hot on a cold one. Do you want something light? Or maybe something more substantial.
2. What do I need?
I believe we all have a basic understanding of what our body needs to be healthy. For example, we know we benefit from a variety of nutrients and fresh whole foods when we can.
Asking yourself what you ‘need’ is an opportunity to think about a variety of outcomes. It’s about asking yourself what your body physically needs. For me, I think about how I want to feel afterwards. Do I want to feel energised or am I ok with being a bit sleepy after I eat? Do I want to feel satisfied but not too stuffed?.
I also think about what I’ve eaten earlier in the day or the day before because I try to have a variety of foods in my diet. Was yesterday devoid of veggies? Maybe some veggies are in order. Or maybe I’ve had a lot of grains and carbs and might need some protein.
I also take this time to consider what my health goals are as well as my health history. I have issues with blood sugar so I know that I need to keep sugar minimal if I want to remain alert and not cranky. That doesn’t’ mean I can’t have sugar, I just consider this when making my choices. I also think about my goals, so knowing I want to have lots of energy and considering which foods give me less.
"Forget 'all or nothing.' Healthy eating is simply the result of all the little positive decisions you make." - Dr. Michelle May
3. What do I have?
This is probably the most important because if you don’t have it in the house, or nearby, you can’t eat it. It’s also why planning is the ultimate form of self care. The more variety of nutrient dense foods you have at home the better. That way if you’re craving a crisp apple, you have them there and if you're craving a cookie, that's there too.
Stock your home, workplace, car, or purse with all kids of different foods that can meet all your cravings and nutritional needs. Lately I've been loving High Protein Breakfast Co cereal because it keeps me satisfied all morning and is easy to take with me while travelling.
This also comes in handy when you’re eating out at restaurants as sometimes choices can be limited. Consider what you want and need then use that to choose amongst what they have.
Making decisions about food doesn’t have to be difficult and some simple planning will definitely help. We all have the innate ability to know what our body needs, and it’s sad that diet culture and 'healthism' has led us so astray.
Reclaiming your wisdom isn’t always easy but it’s there. Be patient and compassionate.
And remember, if you’re not hungry. No amount of food will fuel you, so If you feel like food controls you or your emotions are getting in the way of your choices more often than not. I'd love you to grab my free Emotional Eating Roadmap.