Welcome to my Twitter pal and health coach, Amita Patel. Take it away, Amita!
Contrary to popular belief, food is not what makes you fat, sick, or unhappy.
We’d all like to believe that it’s the sugar, the carbs, and the GMOs.
But the Truth is much simpler.
Yup, you heard me!
To be more specific, it’s about your connection to yourself. The more you cultivate this primary relationship, the happier and healthier you are.
So what are the secrets to looking young, being healthy and staying in a state of bliss? I’m going to share the lessons it took me close to 30 years to learn.
Let me tell you about my life before I woke up. I was a freakin’ mess! I lived my life from a place of “When I have ___________, then I’ll be happy.”
Success and happiness seemed to be an external thing I had to “get” rather than an internal state.
As a result, at 14 I began a love-hate relationship with medication. Anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, ADD medication, sleep aids…You name it, I took it.
In a vicious cycle, my eating made my moods worse and my mood made me choose to eat worse.
Weight fluctuation, breakouts, and of course, depression ensued. So what did I eat back then? Whatever I thought would immediately make me feel better!
Without a connection to myself, I fixed external situations with a tray of brownies. I’d start my day with sugar, add in some processed or packaged food for lunch and end the day with anything I could wash down with a glass of wine.
Whether happy, sad, or bored, I was sure that an internal condition could be remedied by an external behavior.
Years, relationships, and many poor coping mechanisms later, I had my “Aha!” moment and decided not to be a victim anymore.
At that moment, my health and happiness became MY responsibility; it wasn’t for a person, a pill, or a thing to fix. I wasn’t broken. It was the most empowering moment of my life and my life immediately changed.
I could go on and on about the weight I lost or how much better my skin looks, but the real transformation was internal. I no longer needed medication, things, or people to make me happy.
Happiness depends on a practice where we connect to ourselves in a meaningful way.
This means rewiring learned behaviors, learning new coping mechanisms, and exploring healthy self-care. One of the best I lessons I learned after I connected with myself is that if you want to improve your body image, health and self-esteem, you need to start with your plate.
Here are the 5 changes you can make to improve your health and your life:
1. Listen to your body unapologetically.
When you listen to your body, you can eat consciously and without guilt.
This means you let your body and spirit, not your emotions guide you. Don’t focus on what not to eat. Instead “crowd-out.”
This means you add in nutrient-dense foods like dark, leafy greens, plenty of water, and high-quality non-processed foods. When your body get the nutrients it needs, it naturally stop craving the crap.
After all, cravings for carbs, salt, and sugar are about nutrient deficiencies, not a bad breakup.
And when you truly want that piece of cake, have it and enjoy it. The guilt you feel has a far worse effect on your body and mind than a few extra calories. Nothing holds onto fat more than the way you feel about yourself.
2. Align your diet with your environment.
Before I embraced true health, I often nourished myself according to what was a popular belief at the time. I ate salads and constantly felt hungry, I avoided all fats and felt deprived.
Honestly, it sucked.
I was unhappy and my health wasn’t improving.
That was until I accepted that fat and healthy carbs are our friends.
As a New Yorker in a cold climate, I am not meant to eat salads all time. My body can’t process the excess sugar, potassium, etc. And I need the fat and grains to help balance my blood sugar.
Eventually, I changed my diet to align with what nature provided me. Eating foods grown in our environment brings us into alignment with nature and our surroundings. This connection increases our vitality and health.
Eating foods from other regions and climates not only invites sickness in, but alienates us from our own environment, contributing to a disorderly mind and body.
For example, if you were living in Alaska and had your favorite Indian mangos shipped to you, your body would not be equipped to handle that amount of sugar.
Similarly, in the springtime when you eat heavy foods that you loved in the winter, you would feel sluggish.
Eating locally helps you to eat seasonally and maintain harmony with your surroundings.
Your body is smart and can balance itself, but why force it to do all that work when you can support it in creating health and vitality.
On a deeper level, we are part of nature. Nature is aligned with the universe.
So using the magical powers of the transitive property: When we align with nature, we are aligning with the Universe.
This not only applies to your foods, but activities as well.
Opposing forces help balance each other. We see this in our body, in our lives, and in the greater universe. We can’t have one without the other.
In Modern Macro Medicine, the healing of disease is treated when we identify what is out of balance. We then rectify this imbalance with its complementary opposite.
For example, heart disease is a considered a yang or “hot” disease in the body. It can be cured, balanced, and healed by adding in cooling foods like fruits & vegetables and taking out “hot” foods like oils, fried things, and heavy foods.
Anemia, on the other hand, requires “warming” foods like protein to help balance the system.
The beauty of Modern day Macrobiotics is that it doesn’t just apply to food, but to life itself.
Look for what is out of line in your eating and balance your diet with what you’re lacking.
4. Avoid the blood sugar battle.
You are not doing yourself any favors when you skip breakfast and then hit the vending machine at lunch. Eat when your body wants.
Balancing your blood sugar is a key component in being healthy. mood regulation.
The blood sugar roller coaster depletes your adrenals too, so not only will you feel sad and sluggish, but you’ll reach for a caffeinated or high-sugar treat to remedy the problem which will continue the cycle over again.
In all honesty, this requires some planning. Plan your meals and carry snacks.
Don’t just assume you’ll “grab something” when you’re out. Most likely, you’ll wait, splurge and then feel like a pig.
5. Hydrate like a mofo.
I saved the most important for last. It sounds obvious, but I can’t stress enough the impact of dehydration on living a healthy life and mood regulation.
Your neurotransmitters require water to work. Don’t know how much you need?
It’s your weight (in pounds) divided by 2. That’s the number of ounces. So if you are 160 pounds, you need 80 oz or 10 glasses of water per day.
I use the free “Water Lite” app on my iphone to track my water throughout the day. It gives me a grade each day, and who doesn’t want to see an “A”?!
The Takeaway: Ultimately, you intuitively know how to heal your body, mind and spirit. Get in touch with your intuition and higher self by aligning with your Truth.
When your diet is in balance, you are your happiest and healthiest self.
What is your biggest diet challenge? What have you done to live a healthier lifestyle? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
* Photo credit Simon & Vicki
Amita Patel is a health coach who helps create your ideal life, increase your well-being, and reach your full potential. She helps her clients stay aligned holistically with the 5 pillars of life: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Relationships, Career, and Personal Philosophy. To receive life-improving health updates, sign up for Amita’s blog updates at www.alignedholistics.com