Food and I have a love-hate relationship. Like, I just love it but sometimes my gut doesn’t. The tastes, the textures, the smells, all of it! Get in my belleh! We are covering off on a few bits and pieces relating to food here;
- Warm vs. cold food
- Portion control
The trouble for me is after the consumption, I often hate food. It’s not entirely foods fault, sometimes I just eat too much because it’s so damn good (hellooooooo birthday dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant). But other times, I’ll think I’m eating something which is going to be so well received by my tummy, only to be greeted with a mad-bloated stomach within 30-minutes of eating… rude.
A work-friend and I have been talking sporadically about Ayurveda for the last couple of weeks, and how your ‘type’, or dosa, can mean that certain foods are better for you than others. If you’re not super familiar with Ayurveda, let me quickly fill you in. Essentially, we are talking about a 1000’s of years old healing system which haled from India originally, but these days you’ll find it practiced and integrated into western medicine almost everywhere. The three elemental dosas are vata, pitta and kapha. You can be a mix of all three, however generally there is an imbalance, and this is where disease/illness stems from. This is the most brief of brief descriptions, I totally encourage you to take a look into it and find out which dosa is dominant for you, even just a couple of tweaks from this system can do wonders for you!
Fun Fact: eating chilli to speed up the metabolism and warm the body came from this practice.
Anyhow, we were talking about our dosas because we were discussing the benefit of eating warm foods in comparison to cold/raw foods. We’ve all been told time and time again how raw food is so great for you because the nutrients are fully intact, and this is how nature intended us to consume them. BUT the trouble is that many of us can’t properly digest these raw foods, which defeats the purpose of having eaten the raw product. And often eating a raw vegetable, say for example broccoli in a salad, you’ll end up with bloating or a churning tummy. So, what gives? Well, by steaming or heating your food you are making it easier for your tummy to digest those nutrients and put them to good use (without the gas and bloating!), plus you’re using less energy to digest which means that energy can be used elsewhere (though whether you feel the extra bounce in your step is yet to be determined).
I guess maybe this means all of those smoothies every morning weren’t doing so much for me after all? Dang it.
But all is not lost, cool food still has it’s place of course. We can’t go around steaming everything we eat the rest of our lives, and a carrot stick isn’t going to send you into some kind of digestive nightmare (presumably). It’s perhaps a good idea to integrate more warm dishes at least to your dinner time, rather than salads and the like. This way when you go to sleep you can actually rest, instead of spending all night digesting. (REMINDER: I’m not a guru, just a contributor in this discussion. If you have instruction from your doctor then certainly discuss any changes with them, before you make them.) I know that by making this change myself, I have had much more restful sleeps each night and WAY less bloating.
Generally speaking, I try to pair my food and drink so that if one is warm, the other is cool, and vice versa. Unless it’s cold out, then everything is warm because I’m not a crazy person (I’m super sensitive to cool weather, so please excuse any outbursts I have regarding cold weather). I’m not about to eat warm food only for the rest of my life, and I’m not totally swayed on the idea of there not being benefit to some raw food in the diet.
The two other things I struggle with regarding food are portion control, and restriction. If I am given a portion, generally I’ll eat the lot unless it is just a ridiculously large serve. I think us Gen-Y’ers have blamed that on our parents and grandparents, after forcing us to leave our plates sparkling otherwise NO DESSERT! However, I’m good in the sense that probably 8/10 times if I’ve given myself a certain portion, I won’t go back for more until I’ve let the food settle and I know that I’m genuinely still hungry. I think the important thing with portion control is being realistic. If you’re currently having huge portions, then don’t cut right down to what you think is right straight away. Work your way down, give your tummy time to get used to the change so that it doesn’t just cry out in hunger for days on end causing you to have all sorts of interesting moods. It doesn’t take long to work your way down to smaller portions, in about 2-weeks you’ll usually be through it and down to the portions correct for your size and goals. You’re aiming for comfortable fullness – not overfull and feeling sick – and definitely not still-hungry.
Another Fun Fact: Back when I was 19 years old, working at a Real Estate office in Townsville, a lady there taught me that drinking a warm cup of water between meals helps your tummy to feel full (in the instance you’re trying to cut down on your snacking). I still use this tip, it works a treat! Plus it aids digestion, too!
Often when I’m knuckling down on my portions, I do food preparation for the week ahead. This way I can make sure that, for example, the 1kg of chicken breast I’ve cooked, is divided up into ten even meals along with a good serve of vegetables and complex carbohydrate. By doing this for a week or two, I am pretty quickly able to figure out what is too little or too much and from there on I go back to my day-to-day cooking. The reason I don’t always do meal prep is because I don’t find that there is enough variety, so I get sick of the meals for one, and two, it’s not enough variety in nutrients for your body. If you were to just eat chicken, peas, carrots, beans and a bit of rice twice a day, plus a breakfast of oats with berries, you are getting very limited nutrients in comparison to somebody who is changing up their meals most days, and this can lead to deficiencies as well as a compromised immune system. This then leads to my next point…
Restriction. In my opinion, just don’t do it. I can’t be one of those no starchy carbs, no chocolate, no fats, no wine, no fruit, no life, kind of people. As soon as I say to myself that I can’t have that bowl of pasta, that is ALL my life is going to be about until I get to eat it. I firmly believe in having everything in moderation, with the exception of processed sugar – this is actually one of the only things I do restrict as much as possible. The past 5 years my fiancé and I went completely without eating McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC and Red Rooster – people always found this so crazy, ‘like, how do you do it?!’. Just because we went without those foods, doesn’t mean we didn’t eat a healthier version from somewhere else less franchisey, or home made… I guess we found our happy medium with restriction. It can be a great tool, but personally I just don’t see the benefit in going hell for leather with cutting everything out. What kind of life is it, if you can’t even enjoy a birthday dinner or Christmas lunch?
Food is a tricky thing, it can be as addictive as drugs for some and it can be as scary as death for others. If you experience a lot of trouble with your mindset around food and your diet, beyond the usual ‘what should I eat today’ or ‘I probably don’t need a second serve…’ then it may even be worth seeing somebody about it, just to make sure that you are eating the right amount to be happy & healthy.
If it’s a little bit of mindset tweaking that you’re needing, I’m your gal. Click here and let’s get you on track again!
Take care of yourself, A xo