You have the power, at least 3 times a day, to make choices that will move you towards more energy and vitality.
Changing what we eat is not easy. In fact, I find it’s one of the things people struggle with most in moving towards health. Many people know that food matters, but most don’t realize just how much.
Food choices are complicated and influenced by our upbringing, food education, emotional state, social surroundings, level of fatigue, and economics. The thought process may go something like this: “I know I probably shouldn’t have a donut for breakfast, but I forgot to bring breakfast to work, all my coworkers are having one, they smell amazing, they’re free, I’m really tired, and I deserve it after my awful morning.” I know the internal dialogue because I’ve been there, rationalizing a poor choice without realizing the breadth of consequences.
Food directly influences our body chemistry. We have the power to make food choices that nourish and energize us, with the right underlying mindset. My underlying framework for eating and my personal priorities have shifted with experience. I love feeling energized and vital. It’s more important to me than the brief pleasure of a donut. I choose foods that promote vitality because that’s my highest priority, and I get to take responsibility for the results.
Here are my favorite top 4 mindsets for grounding your food choices.
THE 4 TENETS FOR FEEDING YOUR ENERGY
- Food can be our biggest source of energy or our biggest energy killer.
The right foods can boost energy levels, improve our mood dramatically, increase libido, correct metabolism, reduce aches and pains, reduce bloating, and bring back overall vitality by providing the building blocks for healing. The wrong foods can cause a rollercoaster ride of blood sugar, cause a lot of unnecessary inflammation, and promote a cycle of weight gain, low energy, foggy brain, and poor sleep.
Tip: Start paying close attention to how different foods make you feel immediately and throughout the rest of the day. An increased awareness may uncover a hidden trigger to headaches, bloating, irritability, brain fog, or an energy drop in the afternoon.
- Foods affect our hormones directly.
Some foods directly boost or suppress important hormones. Some foods support the liver, the organ responsible for clearing hormones out of the bloodstream. What we eat determines what gut bugs we grow, and certain gut bugs are a crucial part of the metabolism and recycling of estrogen. Foods high in sugar and simple carbs (as well as missed meals and stress) raise cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol directly impacts how well the body can use important hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone circulating in the blood. What this all means is that if our cortisol levels are wacky, even if we produce proper levels of female hormones, we could still experience weight gain, fatigue, PMS, depression, and all other unpleasant side effects of imbalanced hormones. Food can either help regulate or entirely imbalance our hormones.
Tip: Sugar and simple carbs are by far the biggest culprit in promoting hormonal imbalance. Focus on reducing those first. Aim for less than 25 grams added sugars per day, and avoid the fake sweeteners.
- Focus on what you can ADD IN, versus focusing on all the things to eliminate.
Many food plans and diets focus on the concept of elimination — what to remove to get healthy. It might be true that cutting out certain foods could result in an overnight shift in energy levels in some. But more often the mindset of elimination makes people feel deprived and resistant to the change. This results in poor follow-through, confusion on what to eat, and guilt for falling off the wagon. Instead, try focusing on adding in as many nutritious foods as possible every day. How many vegetable servings can be squeezed into today? If a serving size of leafy greens is 1 cup, and a serving size of chopped veggies is ½ cup, can we squeeze in at least 6 servings per day? With all those veggies, there’s hardly any room left for the not-so-healthy stuff!
Tip: If you’ve ever been given a list of foods to eliminate, I always suggest making your own list of food to include or substitute. Also, I suggest writing down the reason you are eliminating certain foods to remind yourself and keep clear connection with the bigger goal of your plan. For example: “I am choosing to avoid gluten because I want healthy, clear sinuses that allow me to breathe deeply and take long hikes with my family.”
- Energizing food choices are not a short-term “diet”, they are a lifestyle change.
Food is the medicine we take multiple times a day for the rest of our lives. We’re not talking about a temporary shift here — we are talking about a whole new way of eating and relating to food. It has the power to hurt or heal, depending on our choices. For lasting results, we need lasting habits. A 2–week “cleanse” may be helpful to reset the baseline, but it probably won’t change anything long term unless we adopt new habits as a result. Change can be slow, and most people can’t successfully revamp their whole diet overnight and stick to those changes long-term.
Tip: Instead of trying to overhaul your whole diet all at once, try making just one small change at a time and focusing on it until it becomes second nature. For example, start by finding creative ways of including 1 more serving of veggies every day.
These 4 tenets may not seem as sexy as a donut initially, but I guarantee you’ll feel much sexier in your body if you adopt them. You’ll also invite more energy back into your life. And that’s hot.
Author: Dr. Emma Andre