Written by : Ani Gabriel 

Eating What You Are for a New You

Be honest with the messages you tell yourself for a healthier approach to better well-being.

We all recall the adage you are what you eat. But what if we reverse it to say you eat what you are, and then take it one step further to say, eat what you are. EAT WHAT YOU ARE. What does that mean exactly?

Every New Year’s countless humans who perhaps didn’t sleep well the night before or perhaps drank or ate too much swear to sweat and burn off those holiday pounds, and along with it all the other pounds they may have gained over the course of the year or from previous years. But is it healthy to think in these terms we have normalized, which really amount to a sort of self-immolation and self-destruction?

Rewrite the Messages You Receive

We talk about torching or burning calories in a workout or shrinking your silhouette; these terms point to a diminution of the self and promote the idea that somehow there is too much of us on earth and that we need to take up less space, exercise until we burn calories, eat less, be less. We are constantly being fed a message that women should eat less, and men should eat more, and that women should be thin and small, and men should be big and muscular.

But what if we keep the resolution to lose weight but recouch the terms we use? What if we rephrase our intentions to eat better? What if we take it one step further to identify our specific personal needs based on our own physical issues, our own mental issues, to create a new diet, a permanent eating lifestyle which considers our individual needs and reflects where we want to be instead of where and how society tells us we should be.

For example, I am a perimenopausal woman with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac, two autoimmune conditions. I should have no business eating gluten dairy or soy, otherwise my conditions will progress. I should keep my caffeine down because for me, it promotes nervousness, anxiety, and sleeplessness, and blocks many precious nutrients from being absorbed by my gut. Over the years I have slowly and steadily changed my diet, not because I have wanted to lose weight, but because I have wanted to have better physical and mental health.

Discover Your Real Motivation

My motivation is not a slimmer silhouette but a more serene state of mind, a better memory, a well-slept self. My motivation is to retain and maximize my health and to be the healthiest me I can possibly be at whatever age I am. Physically, mentally, spiritually.  But my diet should not be for everyone.

For me, grains are poisonous, but for others, grains can provide precious nutrients to the body. I have to take care to eat other foods and take supplements to account for this food staple that is missing from my own diet. I happily abstain from grains because I know that they will, in the end, hurt me, and make me less myself. Being gluten free makes it easy for me to say no to the tempting treats that abound during the holidays because I know it will make me feel bad, really bad, and that is motivation enough for me.

What Does Your Diet Lack?

What tendencies do you have to physical or mental ailments, and how can you remedy them through eating better? Do you suspect any allergies or sensitivities, and if so, can you try removing them from your diet for a month or two to see if you feel better without them? Then, add them back in one at a time, to see if you get any negative effects from eating them. This is classic Elimination Diet 101 stuff.

Do You Suffer from Insomnia?

Take out the glass of red wine at night which helps you relax, replace it with a bath or chamomile tea and a magnesium supplement. Or try some restorative yoga or meditation before you sleep. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different modalities until you find the right one for you.

Be Brutally Honest With Yourself

This journey starts with a big requirement: that you resolve to learn more about yourself, about what makes you tick and what doesn’t, and that you come out of it knowing yourself better than ever before. It is a journey that will require you to be brutally honest with yourself, to analyze every aspect of yourself, and most importantly, to forgive yourself and acknowledge that you are on a life journey which will require you to completely overhaul yourself. This does not mean that you cannot “cheat” once in a while … but you will no longer call it a cheat because you would have decided beforehand that it is ok to have that glass of wine or  gingerbread cookie and then resume your regular diet which has been custom designed for you and your needs by you.

Eat to Be More, Not Less

If you are what you eat, the eating comes first and the you follows, but if you eat what you are, you are making a conscious choice to accept or reject specific foods that result in your being the best you yet—and that is healthy inside and out.

You are eating a sweet potato because it is rich in beta carotene, fiber, potassium, and magnesium and it fills you up and powers you through your workout: it makes you more whole, more centered, more you. You are not eating a sugar free low-fat muffin because it tastes good and is low in calories and will purportedly make you weigh less if eaten over time but has no nutritional value. You are eating to be whole and to be more, not to be less. And that is when you are truly eating what you are.

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