One of the best things that you can do for yourself if you want to improve your health, body composition and energy is eat well.
‘Eat well’ means different things to different people. For me it means eating food that I know is good for my body. I’ve posted a summary of this at the end of this article.
For many people ‘Eating well’ means eating with main considerations to taste and luxury.
I realise that I have lost the mental division between ‘eating healthily’ and ‘eating well’. The most delicious food for me is food prepared with care, eaten when hungry and based on simple ingredients. I can still enjoy ice cream, but not as much good fish, fruit and vegetables. Eating well this way is a habit for me. I am lucky in that I know a lot of other people who eat this way too. We share recipes, knowledge and enthusiasm for the results that we get.
That’s my situation. It may not be yours.
Here are some simple steps and concepts you can use to change how you eat for the better.
1. Educate yourself. If you do not know the difference between protein, carbohydrate and fat find out. If you do not know what proportions of these you can find in different foods find out. If you do not know the effect of sugar on your hormone system find out. Learn about which kinds of fat and oil are good for you, and which are not. You are reading this on the internet – there is a wealth of information a click away.
2. Get hungry. Real genuine hunger adds to the pleasure of food. It is also a gateway to your body telling you what you want and need. Chocolate cake cravings are emotional and habitual, not physical.
Tune in to your physical needs. Can’t remember what real hunger feels like or are are afraid of it? Choose it deliberately. Don’t eat for 12-15 hours and make sure you do some exercise during that time. Drink only water. Feel the sensations in your body, imagine not just what would fulfill them, but how you would feel after eating those things. Base your food choices on how you will feel after eating.
3. Clear your kitchen. Get rid of the junk that you know is bad. Eat it until you feel nauseous and it disgusts you give it away. Do not replace it. Fill your kitchen with food you know is good.
4. Test. Try 30 days without something. It is easier to experiment if you know that if it does not suit you can go back to how you ate before. If you decide to give something up spend a little time considering what you can replace it with.
5. Cheat. Give yourself cheat meals or a cheat day. I started with Saturday as ‘eat everything day’ (not ‘anything’, ‘everything’). I crammed it with bread, pizza, ice cream… It was fun, though now I no longer feel the desire for it. It’s ok to cheat and it’s ok to fall off your intentions. Just get back on.
6. Preempt. You know that there are situations that will be difficult or tempting or where you will feel social pressure to eat badly. Prepare good food to take with you. I have a box that I fill with nuts and I carry a lot of the time. If I can’t find something else healthy I can eat the nuts. Prepare something delicious and healthy to offer to friends and family before they can offer you something less good.
7. Subvert. Supermarkets and mainstream media expect us to eat certain ways, usually with little respect for either the environment or our health. They sell biscuits and chips/crisps for snacks. They sell bags of salad to be served with formal meals. But you have choice as to how you buy and how you eat. Buy a bag of salad and eat it like the crisps! Have fun, enjoy the weird looks and if people comment use it as an opportunity to develop your humour and perhaps educate the world a little.
8. Practise saying no. This is a martial arts website, and no is a vital martial arts word. There are a spectrum of nos to practise. To assert boundaries for protection you can use a clear asocial No, then move on swiftly towards safety. With the wrong food you can practise a social, friendly and firm no (thank you), then move on swiftly to all the things you can say yes to. What the two have in common is that they are statements, not negotiations.