Yesterday my sister called me complaining that she had a stomach ache because she overdid it this weekend. “I ate way too much this weekend,” she moaned. You see, she wasn’t upset over the fact that she over-ate (I’ve always admired my sister because she’s never let food make her feel guilty by any means), but rather she was upset by the way it made her feel...physically. It was family weekend at her school which meant parties and endless meals out. Between an entire chicken parmesan entrée to chips, dips and beer, she was definitely feeling it come Sunday night. Maybe a year ago, this kind of eating wouldn’t have made a difference on how she felt, but ever since she’s developed a healthier diet, she can no longer handle loads of grease, cheese ‘n’ fatty appetizers all in one weekend (and frankly, neither can I).
This brings up my point that I-among many people who I know-choose to follow a healthy lifestyle and diet not because it’ll make us “skinny,” “healthy” or “heros” in any way but because it makes our bodies feel good. It’s funny because when I was a little kid (yes, I was a little chubby) I could eat an entire chicken parmesan feast (pasta and all) with a large soda, then dessert and feel wonderful afterward, still hungry even. Now if I tried to tackle that kind of meal I’d definitely feel the burn…in my stomach. My tummy can only handle half a burger these days (which I only do on occasion) and I also had to give up pasta, breads and pastries due to my gluten intolerance (grr). While years ago I could have probably downed an entire large pizza in one sitting, a slice or two (of gluten free) now does the trick. You get the point.
Once you start to develop healthier eating habits, you begin to crave healthy food, not because it’ll make you thin but because it makes your body feel good. While many tease me that I’m a health freak or admire my “amazing willpower,” it’s really not because I’m heroic or super motivated in any way; it’s just I enjoy healthy, wholesome food. Believe it or nut, but I actually crave grilled salmon and chicken with roasted vegetables. Hummus, edamame, kale, and other food people find “weird” or “healthy” appeal to me, and many others. I love cooking and experimenting with new foods each and every day, making meals that’ll fill me up, spark my creativity and ignite my taste buds.
I guess my point is that being healthy isn’t so hard after all. It’s just a lifestyle choice that soon becomes second nature to you. I don’t avoid Doritos because I think they’ll make me fat but because I’d rather indulge in fresh fruits and veggies (they taste better) and I’d rather avoid the stomach ache I’d get from eating a bag of oily, greasy chips. Same goes for the ChickenParmesa/beer/party food indulgence my sister was complaining about. While I’m sure the meal was decadent and she enjoyed every bite, she had to pay the not-so-pleasant consequences of feeling bloated and full the rest of the weekend. Maybe eating half or saving some for later may have been more gentle on her body?
That’s the whole point: listening to your body. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Know that foods are going to bother your stomach, and eat them sparingly. If cheese or beer always makes you feel bloated, maybe skip those foods on a weekend you have a lot of plans going on. It’s all about knowing what works best for you and your body, and using your body as your #1 decision maker. Take last night for example. I made a large salad with fresh veggies, Whole Food’s chicken veggie salad and a few mini mozzarella cheese balls. It filled me up for quite some time, and I figured that’d be it for the night. However, 9:00 rolled around and I was hungry again. No I wasn’t going to deprive myself, but I also knew I didn’t need an additional meal. So I met in the middle. I was craving salty and savory so I made a mini plate of low-sodium nachos with cheese and boy did it hit the spot. That’s listening to your body at its best. While 9 p.m. Sunday nachos might not be the norm, it’s what my body was craving at the time, so I fed into it.
I encourage you to do the same.
Do you listen to your body? What kinds of food make you feel good? Are there others that you struggle with (i.e. allergies, intolerance, bloat, etc)? Please share your personal experience with listening to YOUR body…