Understanding and Optimizing Food Habits
I’m moving tomorrow! The week has been a whirlwind of finalizing packing, purging, and keeping myself physically active. Moving week leaves me without the mental capacity or energy to cook. Forget cleaning! In years past, I’ve let regretful amounts of fresh food go to waste. I seek out comfort food, pre-prepared items, and items like sandwiches, which can be prepared without dirtying tons of dishes.
I’m a pro at addressing altered eating during moving week. “Avoiding” the cravings goes badly. (Pizza and donuts always pop up during this time.) I beat myself up relentlessly while trying to avoid the “bad” food, then I binge eat the very item I was avoiding. Sometimes I just have the item without the self-flagellation, then that annoying wheat allergy lets me know caving was a really stupid idea. (My solution: many Bay Area grocery stores carry gluten-free alternatives for my wheat cravings. Yeah!)
Learn your workarounds.
I was realistic when I went by the grocery store early this week. While I don’t want to eat pre-packaged foods regularly, I mindfully selected frozen meals that I enjoy. I bought a box of gluten-free donuts and a small, gluten-free pizza. I stocked the studio fridge with sandwich fixings. That way I didn’t feel the stress of paying even more by dining at restaurants while letting great ingredients spoil.
Let me repeat something: I don’t eat pre-packaged or foods with poor nutritional value regularly. When I’m in these emotional and schedule turmoil periods, it’s alright to be more flexible. I have to make sure that my indulgences allergen friendly, but otherwise, I can breathe! If I was doing this on a daily or weekly basis, that would be a different matter. I’ve learned what things I like and will eat, and what food gets wasted or ignored, especially around high chaos times. Allowing short-term flexibility allows for a quicker return to healthy habits.
How do you create those habits for yourself?
Creating your ideal meal plan is a process. It’s not a quick fix. Before you get started with eliminating or adding in anything, it’s important to understand what you’re currently ingesting, when, and how you feel afterward. I want you to take a look at your whole food picture, without censure. For a week, track everything that crosses your mouth. Remember, this is for you. Writing it down is essential. We should eat to get appropriate macro- and micronutrients, but we can’t change anything in a lasting manner until we see and understand where we’re at right now.
Identify your patterns.
After you’ve spent the week recording your intake, the next step would be to see how you relate with your food. This is where we’d walk through questions relating to your preferences, needs, and energy levels, even amount of time available for food preparation. Check out a sample of the questions below.
- Do you have any medically diagnosed food allergies or deficiencies?
- If yes, list.
- What is your idea of breakfast? (These questions are repeated for other meals.)
- What kind of foods do you feel like you are expected to eat?
- What kind of foods do you eat?
- How do you feel after you eat it?
- When are you hungry again?
- What textures of food do you like?
- What textures of food do you dislike?
- What fruit do you like?
- What fruit do you dislike?
Ultimately, understanding and optimizing the way your body and lifestyle relate to food will allow you to feel in control of your everyday nutrition. With everyday nutrition handled, you have more breathing room when life throws you for a loop.
Are you interested in walking through the whole questionnaire together? Contact me for your complimentary 30-minute Nutrition Discovery Session!