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The Fit Fem Blog
Fit Fem Trainer, Emma Harris, Answers the Question: What Should I Eat?
One of the biggest questions I get asked as a nutrition counselor is "what should I eat?" The answer to this question is simple and yet it becomes the bane of every woman's existence. The question women are actually asking me when the words what should I eat come out of their mouths is "what should I eat that won't make me gain weight, will make me feel less shame, will make me lose weight, will be satisfying, will make me feel motivated, encouraged, and more positive about my life, will make me feel less depressed, will make me feel this feel that and the other." That is a lot of pressure to put on a bag of kale.
Food is not about feelings, it’s about fuel. We as Americans have put such an emphasis on food making us feel better that like alcohol culture where people drink to feel better, we eat to feel better. This is damaging. This practice is damaging to our relationship with food and our relationship with ourselves.
Yes when masticating your brain releases a flood of dopamine to the brain (the calming chemical) but that is not what Americans are eating for. The US of A is eating for the serotonin release when our stomachs hit max capacity; where there is more than enough food in the stomach and the "I’m full" chemical gets released. Eating to this point is eating to sedation; where you have eaten so much that now your body will have to work twice as hard to digest its food because tryptophan and dopamine and now serotonin are flooding the system with their calming and sleepy effects.
This is not to say that food consumption should not be and is not a pleasurable experience but in contrast to what we practice it is pleasurable to eat for energy rather than sedation. I would like to suggest that we put the pleasure back into the eating experience by SLOWING IT DOWN. We can't eat for pleasure if we are shoveling food into our mouths as fast as we can to get to our meeting, to pick up the kids, or to get to the office on time. When we eat to feel better we usually ingest foods that taste good on the tongue but will later cause gas, bloating, allergic reactions, heart burn, and a generalized feeling of discomfort ie McDonalds, pastries, pizza, soda etc. It is actually a pleasurable experience if you only get 15 minutes of pleasure while the food is in your mouth but then experience up to 3 days of discomfort while the food moves through your digestive tract?
I would like to redefine the pleasure experience when it comes to food. What if the goal was to eat what felt good to your body and not just your tongue? I am not suggesting eating foods that you can't tolerate which you picked up from the hippie grocery store. I am suggesting finding foods and playing with tastes until you find what works for you, your tongue, and your body. Building up a kitchen full of foods that don't cause you to feel so much...discomfort, may make you more attuned to the foods that don't make you feel much of anything...except energized and ready to continue with your day.
Food isn't a feeling; it is fuel. Eating foods that are meant to nourish your body and help you get back to your life are what you "should" be eating, but only YOU can define what those are for yourself. Trust your gut wisdom when it comes to food choices and acknowledge that you are being asked to care for your intestines and organs like you would a small child, with compassion and a little bit of tough love. Choose foods that will fuel you to your next task instead of sedating your brain away from what you are currently experiencing. Treat food as fuel rather than a feeling, and take that pressure off the kale, the cheeseburger, and the pizza.
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