Did your New Year’s resolution include “eating healthier”? But what does that really mean? Does it mean giving up all of the foods you love? Does it mean never enjoying eating again, because anything that’s good for you can’t possibly be tasty too? I know for a long time I thought if it was healthy it pretty much had to taste like cardboard. In my opinion, healthy eating has two components. First, it’s made from real stuff. Real food means things that our great-grandmothers would recognize. Very little that I buy is packaged. I am looking around my kitchen as I write, and literally the only thing in a box is tea. Yes, this means cooking, rather than just microwaving. But most of my meals are simple and take less than half an hour to prepare. The second important component of healthy diet is that it makes me feel good, not just in the moment, but in the long term too. There are a few things that everyone should avoid (like processed foods and empty calorie sugar) but each body is different. It takes some trial and error to find out exactly what the right balance is for you. OK, if I can’t base my diet on sugar and white flour,
what can I eat?! When I was a kid, we heard a lot about balanced meals. A good meal had some protein, some carbs, some fat, and some fruit or vegetables. I actually think that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. You can adjust each element up and down as you need. Here are a couple of other simple rules to try get a wide variety of nutrient dense foods that create happy healthy bodies and souls.
Ideally, every meal should include:
I’ll go more into each of these in the future. Remember to keep it simple, and let me know how it’s going.
I gave myself the month of December off (mostly). I have never been a fan of the hurried, busy consumerist lead up to Christmas. It has never felt right to me. If you are a follower of the seasons, as I am, this time of year is about rest and renewal. Many plants send all their energy into their roots and let the visible, exposed parts die off in preparation for winter. Many spiritual traditions suggest that we also slow down and take this time when we don’t have to be busy planting, hoeing, and harvesting to do some inward journeying. To be still.
Lots of others are longing for this too. When people complain to me about having seasonal affective disorder I remind them that the natural thing to do in winter is to slow down, nap a lot, allow the body to rest, and my theory is that S.A.D is about being out of balance with that natural urge. And they universally say to me, “Yes! That is what I need, what my body and soul want.”
I have come to really love this season of stillness and darkness. I try not to do a lot of planning before the solstice, the return of the light. I try to allow myself to not know what’s next, to allow the seeds of what’s next their time to germinate in darkness, before they come to light.
After pushing myself hard the last few months, I really needed this down time. My body has been feeling the effects of the stress too: my fibromyalgia symptoms have flared up, and I have been craving sugar. By allowing myself this time of not-pushing, I am now feeling much more serene and still inside. In a good way. The days are already getting noticeably longer, and I’m beginning to be ready to start looking ahead.
There are, of course, nutritional supports that counter stress. Healthy fats and probiotics do wonders for mood and patience levels. I truly believe that it’s hard to feel good mentally and spiritually if we are pumping our bodies full of toxins all the time, and that healing our nutritional deficiencies allows our minds and spirits to blossom and grow. That’s one reason the Gut and Psychology Syndrome makes so much sense to me.
But, it’s also important not to overlook the other things that contribute to a sense of nourishment and fulfillment. Allowing time within each day, each week, and each year for stillness and non-doing is essential to my serenity and equilibrium throughout the year.