Have you ever considered that what you eat contributes to the way you feel?
Think about that nagging headache you can’t seem to get rid of, the foggy feeling in your brain midday or your inability to feel calm at night and fall asleep with ease. What you eat matters and these are all examples of how food can affect you. Food is necessary for survival and what you choose to fuel yourself with can keep you just surviving or can help move you into thriving.
Food is fuel and nourishment for your body and your mind. Often, we’re so busy we grab food on the go. We chow down so quickly we don’t even notice the flavors of what we’re consuming. Or, we munch mindlessly while driving, watching TV or browsing Facebook.
Paying attention to what you eat and noticing how you feel afterwards, is powerful and can be life changing.
We’re all individuals with our own unique make up and what each of us requires is slightly different based on the unique needs of our body. There isn’t one diet that fits all, it’s about finding the diet that suits you best. And remember, ‘diet’ isn’t something you do for a while to accomplish a goal, your diet is made up of what you eat every single day. Are you ready to find out if your current diet is working for you? If you are, it’s time for a challenge!
For one month, keep a food journal logging what you eat and how you feel afterwards. You might notice that you feel energized, sluggish, adrenalized, calm, bloated, pleasantly satisfied or stuffed full. One easy way to do this is to remove something from your diet during the weekdays, Monday thru Friday, and then enjoy it (in moderation) on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday. Notice how you feel without it during the week. Keeping in mind that your body might go through a small withdrawal the first few days without it. And pay close attention to how you feel after bringing it back in on the weekends. Remember, it’s not whether or not your taste buds love something, it’s how you feel after consuming it. You might be surprised by what you notice.
A few years ago, I challenged myself to do this with caffeine.
I’d been a morning coffee drinker for at least 20 years, always enjoying 2 cups of black (I loved the taste of coffee so much I couldn’t imagine putting anything in it) coffee to help wake me up in the morning. I felt bonded to this morning ritual loving everything about it; I loved the aroma of the coffee while it was brewing, the anticipation of being able to pour my first cup, and the first sip of the morning….ahh, now that was heaven! Waking up with coffee was something I believed I couldn’t live without. How was it possible to ‘wake up’ without it? And given that this had been a part of my life for so long, I couldn’t imagine giving it up. Yet, I still decided I was up for the challenge of finding out if and how caffeine was affecting me.
And I never would have predicted what ended up happening...
Rather than my usual morning coffee during the weekdays, on Monday thru Friday I switched to green tea. Yes, still consuming caffeine, however nowhere near as much as I had been with coffee. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, I switched back to coffee. The first Saturday I enjoyed my usual 2 cups of java and whoa did I feel the rush of caffeine! I immediately noticed my heartrate went up. I also noticed how ‘rushy’ I felt. I even talked faster. The next day I decided I’d enjoy only 1 cup instead, which felt better however I noticed I was still adrenalized from it.
The second weekend, I couldn’t even finish a full cup of coffee on either day and I considered giving it up all together. Then quickly felt my body fill with anxiety at the very thought. Give up my morning coffee every day for good? I realized that it was not only a morning habit, it was also something I'd identified as being a part of who I was. So, it wasn’t just about letting go of those 2 cups of coffee each morning, it was also about letting go of the attachment of who I thought I was with those 2 cups of coffee.
What would summer mornings be like at the cottage, sitting outside watching the sunrise without a coffee in hand?
Enjoying those lazy Sunday mornings lounging in my PJ’s with a cup of joe?
I could feel that I would benefit tremendously without coffee, yet struggled with the thought of embracing a life without it.
During my caffeine challenge, I learned that releasing what we consume is so much more than a physical letting go of something. It goes much deeper than that. The choices we make about what we consume are highly influenced by many factors. Some of which are, cultural; habitual; social; economical and psychological, to name a few.
For me, releasing coffee was much more of a psychological struggle than it was a physical one. I needed to come to the realization that coffee is just a thing, it’s not something that in any way defines me or makes me who I am. It took me a few weeks to get there and once I did, it was easy to release all those ideas of who I thought I was as a coffee drinker. I realized that these were all things that I had made up in my mind.
Shifting my thinking to match what my body was feeling and replacing my morning coffee with 1 cup of green tea every day, makes me feel so much better! I no longer begin my day with the rush and adrenaline spike that I used to start my day with. And the tea still gives me that warm cup of something to enjoy first thing in the morning.
It's well worth it to challenge yourself in this way. To find out how what you're consuming is affecting you, because it is indeed affecting you. Every-thing that you consume plays a role in how you feel. That old saying, 'You are what you eat,' really is true.
You may come to learn that something you've been consuming for most of (or all of) your life, doesn't make you feel good.
The possibilities of where this challenge can lead you are endless. This is what makes this challenge interesting and fun. Don't forget to enjoy the process along the way!
Let me know in the comments how you're going to challenge your current diet. I'd love to hear from you!
If you love this blog, I'd greatly appreciate you sharing it so that others can benefit from reading it as well. Thank you.
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