“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
As I recently wrote, health is fundamental to happiness and something I’ve been borderline obsessed with lately. I have recently been trying to eat much more whole, unprocessed foods, as well as monitoring my nutrients.
It’s. Been. Brilliant.
Here are some of the things that have made a big difference for me, resulting in losing a few extra pounds (despite weight loss not being my focus), more energy, better sleep, and an all around better mood.
Tapping into the right motivation for me
I can tell you the moment I decided to change my eating habits. I had already been eating fairly well and monitoring my calories and activity using the free MyFitnessPal app when I watched Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food. His simple advice, consolidating all of his research, was – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
This coincided with a few things that have been bouncing around my head for weeks:
- Longevity. Seeing how health impacts older age (and knowing I’ve got big plans for my so-called twilight years, so I need to prepare my body for that now)
- Simplicity. A general sense of simplifying life and getting back to real ness, a fatigue at the artificial and finding myself yearning to grow and prepare my own food.
- Sustainability. My desire to live in an earth-friendly way. Paying attention to the waste and plastic in my weekly shop, I’ve noticed how much easier it is to reduce my waste if I eat fresh produce.
So my motivation switched from weight loss/maintenance to eating to fuel the kind of life I want, aligned to some of my core values.
And boom – sticking to my goal of eating healthy, whole foods became way easier.
Celebrating the seasons
It also probably helps that this is summertime (and a hot, sunny summer no less!). So salads and fruit have been just what I craved.
But it doesn’t have to end when the first autumn leaves start to fall. Yes, I’m enjoying lots of fresh berries and fruits, but autumn brings with it the time to enjoy apples (one of my favourite foods) and root veg. I intend to celebrate autumn and winter with soups, roasts, and stews, just as summer has been about strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes.
I remember reading somewhere that the trick to eating well was to enjoy a wide range of foods.
Years ago, my grandmother (now approaching her 100th birthday) similarly taught me to make sure I had lots of colours on the plate.
And they’re right. The different colours often signal different key vitamins or nutrients. It’s also great to avoid getting sick of healthy food I love, which I am completely guilty of doing (when I find something that works, I eat it until I no longer want to see it again EVER).
And, perhaps most importantly, it’s simple and fun. In the shop, look at the produce and ask yourself, “when’s the last time I had _____?” Maybe you pick up an orange or melon or grapes or kale.
I’ve found this simple step has meant I’ve enjoyed loads more produce than usual, and enjoy taking my time wandering around the produce (and sticking rigidly and expediently to my shopping list for the rest of the store).
I’m not gonna lie, one potential downside of all of this has been time. These days I’m spending a lot more time thinking about, shopping for, or preparing food.
I’m lingering in the shop as I sniff around the produce, deciding what I haven’t had in a while.
I’m planning ahead so I can pack food to take with me on days out, rather than relying on picking something up while we’re out (though, to be fair, doing so saves me money and reduces packaging waste so I might have been doing that regardless).
I’m washing and chopping more, making a run on our Tupperware and, as my husband has noted, taking up all the room in our fridge.
But all this time has had its upside. I’ve been more mindful and enjoyed slowing down a bit more. I enjoy feeling the plums and smelling the tomatoes to see which ones I’ll buy. I enjoy carefully picking the outer leaves of lettuce from my garden while birds sing and the sun is rising.
And I think this mindfulness has spread to all the time I spend with my food. I notice the smell of the coffee brewing…the orange-yellow yolks of the eggs I beat to make my omelette…the taste of my unsalted food. Slowing down has its perks…the smell of the fresh bread from the breadmaker.
Again, I have found this way of eating has given me more energy and I’ve lost a further few pounds without really trying. But more importantly for me, I feel good in my body. I feel nourished. I am much more mindful of my food and enjoying each bite more, whilst actually consuming less food overall and more nutrients and vitamins.
And I feel the sense of peace that comes from doing something that is aligned to some of my core values. It’s less about smug self-satisfaction or posting to Instagram and more about a calm, quiet sense of contentment and ease – a far, far better thing.