When I entered medical school, I thought health was all about what you put into your mouth, physical activity and sleep. I had a very externalized view of health. My first year of school changed my perspective radically, realizing that nutrition doesn’t start with the plate of food, it starts in the mind.
I went through seasons of stress eating at times in the past schooling I’ve had. For me, it was never the typical offenders: ice cream or chips. I actually don’t really like ice cream. Call me crazy! But it was eating, even if it was wholesome food, when I wasn’t hungry. It’s a sort of programming. Like Pavlov’s dog and bell experiment. First it began as eating while I study, because hey—I’m multitasking!
Mealtimes seemed too tedious. But then, every time I studied, my mind associated that as a time to eat. There’s no shame or blame there. My body and brain are smart and so are yours. It’s the association principle at work. You just have to break the association! Change the stimulus. And you are so powerful. You can do that simply. It may not be easy, but it’s simple. There are some questions to make it simple at the bottom of this post.
This is my unfiltered, honest experience using my body as a science experiment to investigate different ways of eating:
I ate a really high protein, low carb diet for several months.
- Pros: but it actually helped me cut body fat and change my body composition.
- Cons: I felt tired much of the time.
I ate a higher fat meal composition, which was close to Mediterranean Diet. Vegetables with healthy fats are advantageous because healthy fats help the abundant vitamins and minerals to be better absorbed.
- Pros: the fat was satiating so I ate less, my skin was better, food can be flavored well.
- Cons: Fat has lots of calories, so you don’t need much! Overdoing it creates a caloric excess.
I went nearly all raw for a maybe a month or two. Raw salads. Raw juices. Raw green shakes. Raw vegetables and humus. Raw avocados.
- Pros: my skin was beautiful, and the enzymes in alive food were less taxing on my body.
- Cons: I needed protein. I felt like to push myself athletically, I needed quality protein to repair. And I wasn’t into the raw meat action!
Simple & Seasonal is the way to go!
So after all my experiences, here’s what I’ve come to think about food:
|Eat Fresh. Seasonal. Nutrient Dense. Whole Foods.
Here in Seattle: Fresh salmon. Fresh berries. Brilliantly colored squash and green beans. Shimmering Washington apples. Minty Rosemary seasoning.
But ultimately, eat what grooves with your body. Study what fuels you best. Know thyself. It’s taken me months to figure out what the best gasoline source is. And eat the foods you actually LIKE. You have got to like at least one vegetable, right? Eat that and eat it often.
Of course you can eat your one favorite vegetable all the time, but variety is the spice of life, right? It’s an advantage to have variety in foods, because you get different nutrients from diversifying foods which help to create a better shield against mineral or vitamin deficiencies, which can be lead up to a disease—whether mental or physical.
Eating variety is ideal, but don’t stress yourself.
|Be customizable in your approach to eating: Eat the most nutrient dense foods you really like.
If you really love apples and not bananas, eat those. If olive oil isn’t tasty but avocado is appealing, eat avocados. Pick the favorites in the nourishing category and expand on them.
Find new ways to prepare or season them. Enjoy these foods to smithereens.
For so many young, active students, entrepreneurs, and visionaries, this is really the biggest factor in making a food choice. We are always on the go and we have to make quick choices on the go. There’s ways to do that without wrecking havoc on your health. You just have to be more strategic. Eating for optimal energy and health is an investment I wish I would’ve have made… said no one ever!
|But eating fast, cheap, easy or fake isn’t a route to abundant health.
Many young people think they’ll be okay long-term. But it’s a false sense of security. What you eat in your 20’s and 30’s is contributing to the atherosclerosis at 65 and the arthritis that comes at 52. It’s setting a cellular pattern that doesn’t just leave. It makes up YOU, your brain, your muscles, your heart, your neurotransmitter, your enzymes.
|You are building an empire. It’s called your body!
You are building an empire. It’s called your body, your current cells now. If are building a structural strong force, you need high quality building materials. Or the shelter falls apart sooner than expected.
A day in my life would look like this:
- 8:00 am: Wake up. Hot water with lemon and lately, Teavanna Youthberry green tea. I also take a greens powder and Vitamin D immediately as well as step outside and get some sun action, if it’s out. Take a quick 5-10 minute shower, contrasting water with hot and cold to detox and wake me up! Simultaneously, I am Oil Pulling with coconut oil for 10 minutes.
- Breakfast 9 am: I consume a Green Goodness Shake with spinach, coconut milk, chia seeds, protein powder, gelatin (for hair, skin & nails), cocoa powder and spirulina! You can add a banana or berries to the shake for sweetness or eat them fresh on the side.
- Lunch: Varies but a usual go-to is salmon or chicken on a kale/romaine salad or Ezekiel bread with avocado (turmeric, salt and pepper). Sometimes a small green apple with almond butter for a sweet and salty mix. Another option: Collard Wraps with protein and humus rolled in the center.
- Mid-day snack: Start juicing! I make a daily green juice. Most of the time my green juice ingredients consist of cucumber, carrots, beet, ginger, lemon, lime and radishes. Sometimes I add red cabbage or beet greens too. I consume coconut oil with it and usually a form of protein to slow down digestion like almonds or a protein shake (protein powder in coconut or almond milk).
- Dinner: Varies, but I often make stir fry vegetables and lean ground beef or chicken breast strips covered in this incredibly simple Honey & Vinegar Seasoning for nearly everything! Check out Fuel Me Right Balanced Energy Stir Fry.
- Dessert: 85% dark chocolate and on occasion, homemade kombucha or red wine (my vice!)
13 Questions to transform you (as adapted from Thrive + Well):
- Where in my approach have I been more focused on how I look, rather than how I feel?
- What is my body craving?
- What new habit can I start now?
- How do I want to feel when I consume a meal?
- What signs have I been misinterpreting or ignoring before or after I eat?
- What new patterns and habits can I invite into my life?
- What can I remove from my life?
- What challenges from my past can I celebrate overcoming?
- What am I committed to changing in my lifestyle?
- Where can I ask for help, and who can I let in to create a optimal eating pattern?
- What expectations am I ready to release?
- What is preventing me from feeling my best?
- In what ways can I appreciate myself more?
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