Over the past two weeks the participants in the 100 Day Warrior program have been making a solid attempt to “reset” their bodies through a diet plan. As a true foodie I have been experimenting with different types of diets and food ideologies throughout my life, making many mistakes and learning many lessons. In this post I would love to share some of my insights and show you what I believe is a healthy path towards soulful eating, by eating real food and listening to your body. This might be interesting for my fellow participants, and for anyone who’s curious how to implement a healthy take on eating into their busy lives.
It’s a jungle out there!
I get to hear a lot from people that they would like to take care of their bodies by eating better (and drinking less alcohol!), but that they don’t know where and when to start. Luckily a lot has changed for the better in the past five years to make it easier to take a step in the right direction. Even supermarkets, once a dump for junky food, now stab you in the heart with wholehearted quinoa, chia seeds and kale crisps. But even that is not without risk, when shelves are screaming you to buy more “Superfoods”, you simply fall for another marketing trick. Adding to that, you don’t only want to eat according to the best rules for you, but also want to take care of the planet. Help, where to start?
The start is simple. Stop feeling paralyzed and just start now, by taking small steps in the right direction. Now ís the only time you can start and now is not the time to binge eat and drink before turning to the healthy path. “But I have this party next week!”, yes, that may be true, but I hope for you there will be more parties in your life and you will just manage to enjoy them even without drinking or eating like you’ve always had. You wanted change, right?
The Big Reset
When you have made up your mind that you are actually setting out on this journey towards exploring the healthiest version of you, this is the only time you may listen to a spokesman of some food religion to be your guide on the Big Reset Road. It doesn’t matter whether it is one from the vegetarian, vegan, raw, paleo, ayurvedic, low-glychemic, or just-eat-green-stuff-for-a-week church. In general, I believe that swallowing someone else’s beliefs on how to eat isn’t a very mindful way to reconnect with your body. Besides, these diets are generally not a sustainable replacement for your current diet. But, these food ideologies come in handy in the short run, to help you reset your body, create new healthy habits and become mindful of what you eat. Also, they provide the necessary structure, which you need to combat your cravings (shut up and stick to your meal plan). Above all, do your research or ask a professional or knowledgable person for help. In the program we have the guided support of our trainers and food specialist Romana.
Cleaning up the mess
Detoxing is not for pussies, you might feel headached during the first 2-5 days (depending on the severity of your situation). A reset can be seen as a major house cleaning, a huge amount of dust needs to be gotten rid of. Your new diet may include certain essentials that your body previously didn’t have access to. With these resources becoming available, the real maintenance work can be done. But after some time you will actually feel better. You wake up before your alarm goes off, have tons of energy, a shiny skin, and your friends compliment your razor-sharp wit (“where did that come from?”). You may conclude that you were so unhealthy before, that you didn’t know you could also feel this great.
Roadblocks on the way
Those same friends will also be your challengers. There will be plenty of situations that you will need to explain the reason for you not being “social” (i.e. you not taking part in their destructive behavior). Just use these situations to inspire anyone who wants to listen with your reasoning. From my experience, people might initially respond from their ego, telling them that eating salad from a Tupperware container is really uncool. But I have learned that with time they get inspired to take a closer look at their own unhealthy habits and even come to you for tips and recipes.
What I always find intriguing is that the things that I have an “acquired taste” for (coffee with milk, wine, a beer now and then) are the ones that I miss the most in the first week. The lesson is, you have habitual patterns telling you to eat and drink things you don’t necessarily like in the first place. They’re just habits, and for every unhealthy habit you can create a new one. This is the time that you learn the spiritual lesson of replacing desires with needs. As long as you sleep enough, you don’t need coffee. As long as you’re a generally sociable person (with razor-sharp wit, remember), you don’t need that glass of wine to have fun at a party. This mental challenge is a great way to practice willpower – which is a major thing for many people. If you make it till the end and skip certain food and drink groups for a short period of time, you will eventually understand you’re shaking a majestic tree and bring down fruits unheard of. It will be fruitful, just pursue.
After the reset: tuning back in
In order to get ready for these delicious ripe fruits, you need to start engaging to your senses when you slowly start adding certain food groups back to your diet. Notice how your body responds. Your tummy might fill up with air after eating that curry full of legumes. When you have to run for the toilet multiple times per day you’ll understand it wasn’t such a good idea to drink that glass of milk or eat that slice of bread. And your heart beat might scare the hell out of you after drinking that cup of coffee. You will get a hang of it and slowly start feeling which foods make you feel healthy (and which not).
Food is the energy connecting your body with your mind, and deeper, your soul. Your body is a fantastic machine that – with the reset – just went through a luxurious maintenance. You must realize there is no public transport on the journey towards realizing your soul’s full potential, your body and mind are your only vehicles. That is the reason I am taking eating and living healthy so seriously. When your body is stressed, your mind is cloudy and your blood sugar levels spinning, you cannot truly hear the hungry voice of your soul. A healthy body as the base line, it’s time to clear your mind from stress, anxiety and other negative thoughts. This will clear the way for you to realize your true potential, which is the only thing a warrior should be worried about.
My tip for maintaining a healthy body and a clear mind: tune in to your body’s needs and find out which food and drink groups work for you and which not. I know what works best for me: a moderately restricting (mostly organic) diet of mainly plants; some fruits, starches, meat, (shell)fish, soy products and dairy; and loads of healthy fats and proteins from coconuts, seeds, nuts and eggs. But of course I have my evenings that I drink and eat too much. Of course I’m enjoying that warm croissant on a lazy Sunday every now and then. The thing is, as soon as you know what foods make you feel like Super(wo)man, these guilty pleasures are so much less interesting than before.
Finetuning your diet by choosing real food, food that you source and prepare with love for your body and the planet, is not a punishment. What do I say, eating real food may be the humblest amongst the hedonistic pleasures there are. So go out and enjoy it!
Photography: Todd Quackenbush and Dominik Martin via Unsplashed