How to Choose Foods that Help You Perform Your Best

Choosing a healthy diet that helps you feel your best and gives you consistent energy is not as straightforward as it seems. For one, you could be currently eating a food that is deemed healthy by the food pyramid but that can’t be processed by your body. In that case, it doesn’t matter that it’s a “health” food if your body doesn’t feel good after consuming it.

How Food Affects Your Body

One day a couple of weeks ago I noticed a sudden increase in zits on my face. Most of the elements in my life had remained stable—all except for my diet. After a thorough review I realized I had been eating cheese every day for the past week. This was the culprit. Once I cut that out of my meals and drank more water to help flush any toxins from my system, the offending pimples vanished.

Same story with dairy in general. I don’t feel very good after eating it, so I’ve cut most instances of it out of my diet. I buy light, original Silk soy milk instead of cow’s milk, and use Earth Balance butter for my baking needs.

You’re likely the only person that can detect the impact that food can have on your body. The key is to test certain foods and your energy levels once you consume those foods, keeping most other factors of your life constant. This simple change in the food you eat can mean a whole lot for your physical performance and overall health.

How to Stay Full and Still Eat Healthy

A common myth is that women who are fit (read: have visible muscle tone and are generally at a healthy weight for their height) eat very little. Images of celery and salads might pop into your mind as a quick association. This is so far from true. The healthiest and sexiest women I’ve seen/read about eat real food and feel satiated after their meals. In order to do this, you need your proper mix of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. And yes, vegetables count as carbohydrates. They provide your body with energy at a low calorie count and are full of water and fiber to keep you full.

One of the problems I constantly hear people struggling with—and I’m not immune to this either—is controlling appetite. Your relationship with food is an intimately emotional process. You might eat when you’re not feeling hungry. It’s okay, it happens to me too. As I tried to dig deeper into the reasons behind why this might be happening, I came across a couple of potential solutions.

Take it slow, and meditate. A form of procrastination, if you will, for overeating during your meal is to take it slow. Chew thoroughly, take smaller bites, eat with someone who eats slowly, drink some water in between bites, put your fork down, whatever it takes. Along with that thought is consciously thinking about the food that you’re putting into your body.

Even if you’re eating a healthy meal, it’s very possible to overeat. Think about why you’re eating. Once you hit a certain amount of fullness—say 70%, stop. Since your body takes about 20 minutes to register a feeling of fullness, if you stop at 70% fullness, you’ve probably already reached that point but just don’t know it yet. Treat it like a test of discipline. It’s really humbling to know that you’ve left food on the table because your body and your mind are in tune and you’ve got enough control to resist the remaining food. You can be full and satisfied without overeating.

Test it! A quick way to figure out if you’re overeating throughout the day is this: If you wake up after a night of about 7-9 hours of sleep and you still feel full. That, for me, has always been an indicator of having eaten more than my allotment of daily calories.

Forget What You’ve Heard About “Diets”

My philosophy is that I’m never on a “diet.” Instead, eating healthy is a lifestyle. Therefore, I’m not going to completely cut out anything I think I won’t be able to resist, otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure. In general, I reach for whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruit, and lay off the dairy, sugar, fruit juices and sodas. And as for consuming junk food…it happens sometimes. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a cheat day, meal, or snack about once or twice a week.

Which foods work best for your body?

 

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