It’s amazing how, even with all I know about nutrition, my knees still go weak around fresh-baked chocolate cookies at my favorite coffee shop or a French baguette from a bakery. Don’t I know enough to have acquired the Nutritionist superpower of infinite and unwavering self-control? Um, not quite. I eat beautiful homemade meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner most of the time, but every now and then I am tempted and fall prey to something I know will give me a headache or some other uncomfortable tummy issues. Can you relate? So, why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we put that super sweet madness in our mouths when you and I both know we can push through that craving and feel like we’ve reached the top of Mt.Everest!? Well, let me tell you…
So, as I will probably say a million times in the life span of this blog, our bodies are outrageously intelligent. Often times, a craving is our body saying, “Um, hello out there! You haven’t fed me a nourishing meal all week! I need nutrients! FEED MEEE!” It’s like having a new-born baby in front of you. You know its crying for a reason (right!?), but you can’t pinpoint what in the world it needs. So you turn to whatever will surpass the annoying noise…of our bodies, that is. For example, when we get that sugar craving late afternoon, most likely our previous meal wasn’t able to keep us sustained (too many carbs for example) so our blood sugar drops and we’re in a state of total fog (there are plenty of other reasons for sugar cravings, but for the sake of this post we’ll stick to this). This is the tough part. Rather than reaching for what your body knows will drive that sugar right up (e.g. a cookie your colleague brought in from her kids bake sale or the donuts left over from breakfast) we need to practice feeding ourselves foods our body can use as long-lasting energy…fat, protein and maybe some complex carbs.
Picture yourself sitting around a warm campfire on a cold fall night with your family. The fire begins to die down and the wind sends shivers up your spine. You begin to search for more fire wood, but all you can find are twigs scattered around the campsite. You gather the twigs and throw them into the dying flames, but all you get is a quick burst of warmth and the fire dies yet again. Just then, your big hunky husband comes to the rescue with some logs he found while scarring off bears earlier. As he pushes the logs into the flickering flame you feel the warmth again and the fire begins to swell. Now, you and the fam can get back to enjoying each other in the warmth for the next couple more hours as the logs feed the flames.
This is exactly what happens inside our bodies when we feed ourselves empty sugar/carbohydrate laden calories, e.g. sugary oatmeal, cookies, French fries, a big bowl of pasta, processed breakfast cereal, chips, cake, oh the list goes on. We may feel full when we set down our spoon or fork, but our energy rises just as quickly as it falls. We are left feeling hungry, irritable and searching for something sweet.
What will keep us fuller longer AND help our waist line stay slim (bonus!), you ask? Healthy fats, good, clean protein sources and nutrient dense complex carbohydrates. By properly combining these foods, we give ourselves all the tools necessary to keep us chuggin’ along throughout our day. We can play with our kids, focus at work, exercise, talk on the phone, etc. and feel energized rather than cranky, foggy and exhausted.
So, this week, practice filling your shopping cart with lots of colorful organic produce, grass-fed, free-range chicken/beef/eggs, coconut oil/butter/olive oil/flax, etc., properly prepared nuts and seeds (blog on how to prepare these to soon!) and plenty of good quality water. If it’s packaged and you can hardly pronounce the ingredients, PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF…even if it says “organic” 🙂
Shine Bright ya’ll!