I am by no means a perfect eater. I also do not have the perfect body, well defined muscles or the inclination to make working out and eating nothing but salads an everyday ritual. However, it struck me today as I was making lunch just how much my general eating habits have changed and because of that change I can generally aid my body in feeling its best and being prepared for whatever event or activity I plan on for the day.
I call it eating with a purpose.
I think this purpose driven eating is a mixture between intuitive eating and a general awareness of your body and needs. On one hand you have to deal with signals like cravings, being more or less hungry than usual, making conscious decisions to eat better, and trying to maintain balance in your eating habits. On the other hand you have a life to live and sometimes you have to compromise between you what you want and what you need to sustain yourself. In other words, sometimes its more than your carb craving, it’s about fueling your body.
Whether you are trying to get through a normal weekday or a fun (and possibly alcohol) filled weekend food is what creates the balance you need to feel good throughout every day. On days you aren’t exercising there isn’t a need to pile your belly full of food that you won’t burn off. On mornings when the five hundred beers you had the night before have left you drooling for greasy food, you may be amazed what more balancing healthy foods can do to relieve your hangover without leaving you feeling even more sluggish and weighed down.
Eating for Results – One of the best practices that I have worked on in my eating habits is assessing what I have going on each day and how I can best fuel for it. For example, last Saturday night we attended a wedding. Knowing that I would be wearing a very fitted dress (in other words a bloated stomach was not an option) and was looking forward to a dinner of rich food and refreshing beverages I determined it was in my best interest to fuel myself with light, fiber-filled foods throughout the day. Thankfully our roommates for the weekend (Cliz) share most of my food philosophies so we prepared for the weekend by bringing a galette and fruit for breakfast. a kale and mustard green salad and a whole wheat pasta salad for lunch. By the time the wedding rolled around I felt good, not too hungry and was able to make smarter eating decisions without too much thought.
Knowing Your Eating Schedule – Depending on your schedule there may be short or long periods of time between your meals. It’s helpful to be aware of that schedule and eat in a way that will keep you satisfied and capable of making healthy decisions. Starving yourself for hours will often lead to binging on unhealthy foods, just as overeating when you have meals close to each other (hello holidays for me!) can keep you from enjoying all the wonderful foods you have been looking forward to. On Sunday morning we went to brunch with a few of our friends before heading home. It was already 11:00 by the time we left for the restaurant and Husband and I were looking at a long four hour drive home. Eggs benedict (specifically with smoked salmon and asparagus) is one of my favorite breakfast foods, however I rarely eat both or sometimes even one whole side of the english muffin. Sunday however, seeing that it was my only food for the day until dinner that night I made sure to fill up and ate almost everything on my plate, which allowed me to make it home without starving or feeling sick and to be able to take the time to make a healthy balancing meal to counter the heavy weekend.
Eating for Balance – In spite of your cravings, the ultimate goal in eating is to find the balance between the pleasure of food and the purpose of food. So finally getting back to today’s lunch. We are working on cleaning some leftovers out of our fridge which includes whole wheat spaghetti. My pasta loving soul would have loved to just heat it up straight out of the fridge and cover it in a pile of grated parmesan and eat to my cheesy content. However, I know my body and my eating habits and the small cup or less of noodles and tomato sauce, however satisfying at the time, would only leave me hungry an hour later. I needed protein, and I needed something green. So I crumbled up a veggie burger and browned it in a pan, added in a cup of kale, and once wilted I added in the spaghetti and a touch of creamy goat cheese. I was left with a wonderful mix of veggies, complex carbs, protein and a touch of cheesy indulgence that filled me up and left me completely satisfied.
Eating in a way that results in you feeling good is one of the easiest non-diet ways to improve your health and your diet. When you take into consideration how a certain food will affect you physically, and maybe even emotionally or mentally, you begin to make better decisions for your unique health and wellness.