A Change in Mindset: From Counting Calories to Counting Benefits
Throughout my life, I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with food.
When I was born, there was nothing you couldn’t feed me. My mom would puree’ whole foods into a gruel like substance, and I was all about it. Compared to my sister, who would find creative ways to spit out her food, I was always eating.
Food was always “fun” in our house. We have countless videos of my sister and I cooking with my mom while singing, eating in the tub, or the pool out back, and laughing as my mom made every bite seem exciting.
Ironically, things changed when I got a little older. I turned away from food. I found it boring and time consuming (who was I?). All the sitting and chewing was too much for pre-teen me. As a family we sat at the table for dinner. My dad had a rule that we couldn’t leave the table until we were all finished; and I was always the hold up. I sat there pushing around my food, wishing I could just inhale it. It’s interesting how things changed so drastically for me.
The energy we put into our food is so important for not only how we consume food, but how it consumes us- our time, our energy, and our mindset as a whole.
My dad, for instance, really understands food.
THERE WAS A REASON HE FOUND IT SO IMPORTANT TO EAT AT A TABLE, TO BE WITH FAMILY AND TO RAISE THE VIBRATION AROUND OUR FOOD BY TALKING AND LAUGHING AND SHARING WITH EACH OTHER.
He set an example for the importance of:
- Eating at the same time with family
- Community is an important aspect to overall happiness. Having others to share the day to day relieves stress, and gives a sense of belonging. This helps in balancing hormones like cortisal- which help regulate metabolism, reduces inflammation, helps control blood sugar and assists with memory function.
- Eating without rushing
- In addition to helping your body and mind process the food you are consuming; I believe my dad just wanted to spend as much time with his family as possible. When we rush, our bodies are in fight or flight. This makes it more difficult to digest our food. Our brains can keep up with our actions, and we end up over eating.
- Chewing food fully, enjoying every bite
- Many think that digesting our food is a post meal activity when actually, digestion starts in the mouth. Our saliva contains an enzyme called peroxidase. This enzyme helps to break down our food, and suppresses carcinogens in food preventing cancers. Chewing also activates the functions of your stomach and intestines, preparing the body for digestion
- And knowing food- understanding its benefits and WHY we eat certain foods.
- Both of my parents are microbiologists working in the food industry. While their job was centered around food safety, they always made it a point to understand the properties of the foods we were eating. While I was pushing tomatoes or brussel sprouts aside, he was educating me on how they prevent cancer, heart disease, blood pressure etc. While this landed on deaf ears as a child, it still sticks with me today.
Regardless of how little I ate then, those principals have stuck with me my whole life, even when society was telling me a different story.
The worst relationship I had with food was when I was in college. I moved into the professional world at this time, dancing for the TB Lightning and in shows across the country. While this was an incredible opportunity to do what I love, it also taught me all about the calorie.
“Calories in should = calories out” and if that’s not the case, you’re “going to look fat in your uniform”.
I was required to keep journals of what I was consuming, and track workouts to ensure I had the equation just right.
At 19 years old, this changes your relationship to food…
I had timelines of when I could eat, and learned what it was like to feel guilty to indulge.
GUILT WAS A NEW CONCEPT TO ME WHEN IT CAME TO FOOD. ENERGETICALLY, GUILT CHANGES THE FREQUENCY IN THE BODY. EVERYTHING TENDS TO TIGHTEN UP, AND IT COMPLICATES DIGESTION. I FOUND MYSELF MORE BLOATED THAN EVER, AND CONSTANTLY HAD STOMACH PAIN.
This all was normalized. We were in the health and fitness community, had personal trainers and lived at the gym. I was doing what I loved, with the girls I loved- celebrating when the numbers on the scale went down, and high fiving each other when I break up or the flu would make you look your best.
It was so engrained in us that, I didn’t even think twice when my cycle stopped coming around.
During that time, my hormones we’re off, I was losing muscle, and ended up with kidney stones. It wasn’t until later that I realized my body was trying to get my attention, and I wasn’t listening.
I don’t blame anyone for our lack of education. We were young, our bodies resilient, and we had each other.
My mindset on food continued to worsen. I was constantly googling how many calories were in anything I ate, weighing myself, checking body fat numbers, and essentially obsessing over food in an unhealthy way.
It wasn’t until I left the professional world of dance, and found yoga that I started to truly learn about food.
This changed my relationship with food again, when it wasn’t about calories in calories out, but how food is going to help my body thrive in yoga on and off the mat.
I DISCOVERED THE TEACHINGS OF HYPOCROTES, AND DECIDED TO LIVE BY “LET FOOD BY THY MEDICINE”. LEARNING THIS PRINCIPAL BROUGHT ME BACK TO THOSE LONG FAMILY DINNERS. I HAD KNOWN THIS FOR YEARS. MY DAD IS HYPOCROTES, WITH LESS HAIR. I FELT AS THOUGH I HAD A REVELATION. AN ENTRANCE TO A HEALTH JOURNEY THAT WOULD PAVE MY LIFE FOREVER.
I threw all numbers out of the door.
I got rid of my scale, stopped caring about calories, body fat percentage; and went from looking at numbers to reading ingredients. I started to tune into the body and recognize how I feel when I eat certain foods. What makes me feel good, or anxious, or tired.
What I started to care about, was understanding my body, what it needs, and how to feed it.
I believe that every food that exists on this planet has a purpose- and I’m here to explore it.
I challenge you this next week to be mindful of everything you choose to put in your body, and learn something about it.
Learn the benefits of whole foods, how they are processed in the body, and how you feel.
Learn where your food comes from and how it’s made.
Have a conversation about food. Appreciate our access to foods, and the nutrition it provides for our bodies.
Connect with your food. Raise the vibration through prayer or taking a few breaths before eating.
MOST OF ALL ENJOY IT.
I am loving on this Grain and Berry Sprirulina Bowl.
Check out the ingredients and how it’s fueling me today!
- Organic Spirulina, Bananas, Pineapple, Mango, Almond Milk
- Spirulina is an organism that grows in both fresh and salt water. It is a fantastic source of antioxidants, which can protect against oxidative damage. Oxidative damage can harm your DNA and cells. This damage can drive chronic inflammation, which contributes to cancer and other diseases. Its main active component is called phycocyanin. This antioxidant substance also gives spirulina its unique blue-green color.
- “Phycocyanin can fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signaling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
- Studies indicate that spirulina can lower triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol and may simultaneously raise “good” HDL cholesterol.”
- Vitamin C, Good for Skin, Potassium- which lowers blood pressure
- Enzymes in Pineapple ease digestion. It’s an antioxidant, and reduces Inflammation,
- Promotes Healthy Gut, Boosts Immunity, Promotes eye health, lowers cholesterol and clears the skin
- Almond Milk:
- Contains healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E.
- The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels
- Contains vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. They also have a lot of antioxidants and are a good source of fiber
- Contains vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium
I am not a nutritionist, or claim to be an expert.
Every BODY is different.
WHAT CHANGED MY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD WAS NOT UNDERSTANDING EVERYTHING THAT COMES WITH NUTRITION, IT CAME FROM THE WANT TO UNDERSTAND AND LEARN.
It came with the relationship to my body, and tuning into to how certain foods made me feel.
Everything we need already resides within us. So tune in, find hunger in the education of what goes in, and ultimately ENJOY!