How To Change The Way You Eat, Think, And Live For The Rest Of Your Life
I believe food is a powerful tool for transformation, but our relationship with food can provide us with a deeper dive into self-discovery. You have a unique “food story,” that is multi-layered and written over many years. But what you eat is only half the story. To put a different way, food is more than just a source of energy. How you eat is just as important. The psychophysiological aspect to the way you approach food is a vital and often overlooked element of your health picture. What’s your food story?
“Food is more than just a source of energy”
There are three factors that greatly influence how you eat: lifestyle, environment and seasons. These factors continually interact and evolve throughout your life time, forming a picture of your emotional and biological needs. Let’s touch on these briefly:
Think for a moment how you ate when you were growing up – did you take meals together as a family? Did the foods you eat change in noticeable ways? Were you drawn to different foods?
Spending some time thinking about how you ate in childhood can offer powerful insights into how you approach food as an adult. For example, if meals were not shared in a family setting, if they were rushed, stressful, or uneventful, your attitudes and emotions to these experiences can have a lasting influence on how you eat today.
As an adult, your lifestyle has likely changed. For example, a move to a new location, a different job, a change in financial status, sleep schedule, exercise level etc. These changes have an impact on how you eat. For example, if a new job requires you to sit at a desk all day, physical exertion is minimised, metabolism drops, and caloric needs drop, which means your body requires less food. If the lack of exercise and stress of the new job begins to affect your sleep schedule, hormonal fluctuations come into the picture and you may start to feel hungrier, crave carbs, or experience weight gain and headaches.
The way you eat is a function of your environment. As your surroundings change, you change. These changes are of course influenced by the people you come into contact with and the culture.
When my husband and I moved from the UK to France, our eating habits changed and adapted with our new surroundings. We discovered that we could shop at local farmers markets nearly every day of the week from Spring through to Autumn. This dramatically changed the way we ate and how we experienced food.
Why? Because eating food unique to a given environment connects us to that environment. In this way, what we eat is not just a function of our environment, it also becomes personal; the two needs merging to nourish us more deeply.
Seasonal changes are closely related to environmental ones. Seasonal cycles have a profound influence on the needs of your body. For example, during the heat of the summer months, the sun’s energy warms your body, you have less need to produce internal heat through the digestive process, and as your appetite decreases you crave cooler, lighter meals. The opposite is true during the winter months, when your metabolism decreases and you crave warm, denser meals.
If you visit any farmers market during the summer months you will likely find an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines. It is by no accident they come into season at the same time. Mother nature knows what your body need!
Aligning yourself with the seasons connects you with what you are eating, helping you tune back in with your body and fall back in love with real food again. Taking the time to appreciate the simple pleasure of looking forward to the first tender sweet peas or the first punnet of strawberries will remind you that there really are things in life worth waiting for.
Over to you
I encourage you to spend some time thinking and journaling about how your food story has determined the way you approach eating today. When you write down your food story, you acknowledge and accept that your past might set a precedent, but it need not be your present.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- How has your childhood or changes in your lifestyle affected how you eat?
- What specific foods have you included or excluded from your childhood, or because of changes in your work, exercise level, sleep schedule etc?
- Can you recall times in your life when a change of environment precipitated changes in the way you ate? What were the specific changes?
- Have you noticed your body changing with the seasons? Are there certain foods you are drawn to as the seasons begin to change? Does your appetite level change? Eating schedule?
- Do any particular mind states predominate when how you eat needs to shift – eagerness, resistance, fear, uncertainty? Are there any practical steps or you can make to enable yourself to adapt better to these changes?
I believe that food is medicine and it can absolutely transform the way you eat, live and feel. Yet, it is easy to lose sight of the mind body connection aspect of how you eat. The more aware you are of these connections, the greater the potential for your personal unfolding and inner peace around food.
For in changing the way you eat, you change the way you live. The more you understand how your past belief systems have shaped your food story, the more conscious you’ll become about the connection between your relationship to food and your inner world. By focusing attention on your environment and aligning yourself with the seasons, you’ll learn to re-connect with your community and with your body.
It is the experience of how we eat – the heart iness, the mindfulness, and the soul intention on which our food story is based. Whether it is the eternal round of the seasons, or the hunger in your body, your relationship with food continues to evolve. Everyone eats, but how many of us have understood what it means to be an eater? Each time you eat, you literally make a commitment to continue to live. Agreeing to be an eater is a conscious, deliberate, ritualistic, and hopefully liberating choice.
Is it time to rewrite your food story? For you to commit to being an “optimal” eater and to integrate this knowledge into your lifetime food story? If you choose to live optimally, you must choose to eat optimally, so why not accept the reality of all that it means to eat and live life optimally for the rest of your life?
Wait… How do I start?
If you haven’t already, I wholeheartedly encourage you to download the 3 Sources Game Changers, your free downloadable guide to eating more optimally, which includes a Seasonality Table to help you align with the seasons, a One Plate: Endless Possibilities cheat sheet to begin to familiarise yourself with the necessary elements when designing a nutrient dense plate of food, and a Get Ahead prep guide, which shows you how to implement time-saving strategies in advance of your eating week. Small steps. Big wins.
Happy Eating! And remember, changing your food story can start from today.