#1 : Food matters way too much
Just not in the right way.
We plan our day around food. We reward ourselves with food. We look forward to food; we deprive ourselves of food. Sometimes it takes not eating food to recognize just how much food is important to us on a recreational or emotional basis.
But how food really matters is apparently a much lower priority for most of us. Without food, we don't thrive. Food is nourishment, and how well we eat accounts for the majority of how well we feel on a day-to-day, operational basis.
We should be choosing our food based on how well it is nourishing us, not how good it tastes. No one likes this truth, but there it is. Food doesn't have to taste good. It is a luxury that we have such an abundance of spices, sweeteners, salts and fats available to make our foods taste delicious. But is it necessary?
We have become spoiled, so accustomed to avoiding placing anything in our mouth that doesn't taste good to us that we're almost afraid of something less-than-palatable crossing the threshold of our lips.
Think about it, find that it's true on some level for you, too. And then challenge yourself to eat something that "doesn't taste good." Perhaps a salad without dressing or a handful of sprouts: eat it and survive the experience. And find that with practice, you can appreciate the flavor of a food that is serving no other purpose than to nourish you. And make it a habit. (And some would say, you can even grow to appreciate the flavor of typically unpalatable, unseasoned foods.)
#2 : Eat more vegetables
I'm sure there's this one person reading this, thinking "I eat so many vegetables, you have no idea."
Fine, this isn't for you. But, for 99% of us, we could be eating more. It is so easy to find the servings of veggies dwindling in the typical "busy-person" diet. It takes a tiny bit of effort to make a salad, chop up some veggies to steam or saute, or to plan an all-vegetable dinner a couple of nights a week.
But it's worth it. Nutrition powerhouses, these simple vegetables growing from the ground: antioxidants, fiber, simple thought-free food therapy available on a daily basis.
Don't overthink it. Just eat more veggies.
#3 : It's really important to shake things up
Whether or not you are happy with your dietary habits, it can be beneficial to do things differently for a while.
Chinese medicine values eating in harmony with our environment. In the natural environment, we would not have access to the same three balanced meals every day of the year. Instead, there are times of plenty and times of lean. Times of fresh abundant produce and times of preserved foods. Our diet should vary, at least a little.
There are physiological benefits from shaking things up and going on a cleansing diet. An increase in antioxidants and decrease in sugars and fats allows the body to do some housecleaning internally. We can't usually see the multitude of benefits gained by reducing free radicals, but must trust that it's there. Instead, most people are able to judge their benefits by way of increased mental clarity or increased energy (possibly after a day or two of detox adjustment). With or without symptoms to measure, it is unquestionable that our liver needs this support.
This time around, neither Jason nor I experienced any significant changes on our cleansing diet. We both simply felt good in a vague way. Weight loss is another commonly appreciated side effect of a cleansing diet. Of the seven pounds I lost, however, four were immediately gained back upon eating my normal diet. A cleansing diet is not recommended for sustainable weight loss, although it can be a good way to begin the process. (I'll probably be touching on the subject of weight loss on the blog in the coming weeks.)
The biggest gain from shaking up our diet routine was getting back into the healthy dietary habits we value. A refresh, a restart, a renewal. It was well worth the week of effort to do things differently. It doesn't have to be hard, it doesn't have to be extreme, it just has to be done.