Happiness Begins on Your Plate; How Changing Your Diet Can Change Your Life.

by Vishnu on October 13, 2013

Diet

Plate to you - Yeah, I'll change your life.

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.

It’s you.

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.

My journey.

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.

3. Balance.

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.cutedog

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

{ 29 comments }

Razwana October 14, 2013 at 5:38 am

Amina – I love what you write about balance. A lot of western medicine is missing this for sure.

We seem to have the ‘if it works for them, it will work for me’ approach – totally ignoring what our bodies are telling us.

Right now, my body is craving coffee ;-) Great to see you here !
- Razwana
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Amita Patel October 14, 2013 at 6:59 am

Thanks so much! It took me a while to learn that the real “expert” is inside us. Listening to others is fine, but not at the expense of turning off our intuition. So glad the post resonated with you!

Dan Black October 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Great post, Amita!!! Taking ownership of our body and health is so important.

For the most part I take care of my body by exercising and eating the right type of foods. It’s been a huge discipline but has paid out through my increase feelings of fulfillment, energy, and well-being. Thank you for this amazing post!

Amita Patel October 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

That’s fantastic! There’s nothing more gratifying than healing yourself!

Dan Black October 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm

So true:)

Sandra Pawula October 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Well done, Anita! I love your take on water. That’s my goal this month: to adequately hydrate myself. I think nutrition is very, very individual. So I appreciate your approach. Understanding genetics can also really help.
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Amita Patel October 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

I completely believe in bio-individuality! But yes, water is my non-negotiable. I just read your post on on death. I love the reminder to focus on the real priorities. So often we get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the bigger picture and of ourselves. Great reminder!

Vishnu October 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

Thanks Amita for writing this guest post and being a voice for healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle. Also for sharing your struggles with food and health – a good reminder that connection to ourselves and our improvement of our inner being is key to our personal health and happiness.

On my own journey to a healthier life, I found all 5 tips useful including being conscious about the foods we eat, balancing our diets and trying to skip the blood sugar battle. I think trying to avoid long periods of hunger, and eating more frequently, has helped me stay away from large sugar splurges and that does require some planning 2-3 meals ahead.

Thanks again for your work and your contribution to the blog.

Amita Patel October 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the opportunity to share these tips with others!
Planning can be a pain, so I try to use the cook once, eat twice rule. Anything I make I should be able to repurpose in some way. Some examples:
1. Make extra of any grain (ex. brown rice) then use it in a porridge, stir-fry, etc.
2.Grill veggies and throw them in a sandwich, over a salad, etc.
3.Whenever I get stuck with random veggies at the end of the week, I put it in a soup, smoothie, or juice.

Hope that helps!

Vishnu October 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Completely! Will use that tip and even make additional food to try to make one meal into two or three or four!

Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Let me know how it goes!

Kevin Cole October 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

This is very similar to how I approach eating healthy.

For me, it’s all about eating foods that lift me up. I very rarely eat something that brings me down and makes me tired.

It’s all about delicious foods that are super healthy and provide me with the energy to work effectively.

Some really solid points in here. I’m going to have to integrate some of this into my own nutrition plan.
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thanks so much! I love the way you stated that, foods that “lift you up.” That’s definitely something I will incorporate!

Galen Pearl October 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm

That photo at the beginning looks just like what my son James would have liked for dinner when he was young. He loved fruit and vegetables. Still does! My sister said once that he ate like a rabbit. It was true!

Great article about a healthy relationship with food. Thank you.
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm

You’re welcome! Vishnu chose a great picture :) Bringing up kids with healthy eating habits it so important. Great job starting early! I can certainly say, it is a harder skill to acquire later in life!

Elle October 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

I could relate to so much of your story Amita and thanks for reminding me to eat locally…although here in Florida we don’t have much in the way of seasons, still the local farmers certainly grow seasonal produce.

As a fruit and vegetable lover, my problem was always getting enough protein…but I do much better now and feel great with a balance diet.

Thanks for sharing Vishnu, appreciated Amita’s take.
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I completely understand what you’re saying about protein. I try to sneak it in by using seeds, nut butters, quinoa, etc. What works for you?

Dave Arnold October 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Great post! Balance is key.
Good tips.
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Thanks much!

Keith October 17, 2013 at 1:39 am

Hi Amita,

Great post.

I agree completely with what you say about hydration. It really does impact everything! We are most dehydrated in the mornings so I always start the day with 2 pints I water. I really notice it on the days don’t do this.

Planning is also critical. I have been planning my food for the following week for a few months now which helped me cut out the stuff that I know doesn’t work for me. However I spent the last few weeks traveling and visiting different people. It was an amazing experience but my body couldn’t wait to get back to a more controlled diet, one I had built up by listening to my body. Heartburn, felling bloated, sluggishness, etc all gave me great feedback on how what I eat makes me feel and confirmed I am doing something right with my normal diet.
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm

That’s great! Yes, listening to our bodies is the key to bio-individuality. What works for one person may not work for the next! The blessing/curse of this is that the cleaner we eat or the more we eat what our body truly needs, the less tolerance we have for the stuff we aren’t meant to have. As you stated, that leads to the symptoms we all dislike: heartburn, bloated, sluggish, etc. Thanks for sharing!

Wendy Irene October 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I absolutely LOVED this post! Thank you for sharing. It makes so much sense to eat local too! I have to admit it can be very tempting to get delicious fruit from exotic places but it never tastes as good as a locally grown Northwest Apple in season. Thanks for the inspiration!
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Thanks so much! and Yum!

richmiraclefiles October 20, 2013 at 1:14 am

Hi Amrita,
Thanks for the alluring plate which you’ve flashed at the beginning of the post.It’s a great reminder for all of us to stick to a healthy regimen of dietary intake.
I’m myself a veteran of unhealthy eating habits,which I have fortunately been able to dump for a good amount of time now.And I’m happy to confess that a tad bit of self control,exercise,healthy eating and good hydration has helped me shed close to 14 KGs of flab.Now i feel feather light and energetic like never before.
Just a tip about water intake based on authentic ayurvedic advice,and personal experience ..ensure you drink hot water instead of cold , after every meal;and whenever possible ,even otherwise.It paces your metabolism very naturally.
Thanks,Vishnu, for the insight from Amrita
Mona
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Amita Patel October 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Thanks so much for sharing! And I agree with what you said about water. It takes unnecessary energy for our bodies to heat cold water in order for us to process it. Great tip!

Steve October 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Very good points. Your last one on water hit home with me. I’ve been trying to get more water lately. One of my latest attempts has been to make it a daily morning habit. I fill up my nalgene full of water and head out the door. Then I drink the whole thing before I get to where I’m going. Instead of trying to fit it sometime throughout the day, I just do it as part of my morning routine. That way I make sure to get it in.

I try to listen to my body after I eat. I try to find out which foods slow me down and make me feel bad. Then I simply avoid them. It’s a matter of trial, error and adjustment. After a while, you find foods that work really well for you.
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Amita Patel December 20, 2013 at 9:51 am

You’re absolutely right, it’s about listening to our body and respecting our bio-individuality. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach! I would recommend trying to even out the water intake throughout the day and taper before bed (so you don’t have to pee in the middle of the night!) It can be a lot for our body to process at once and you want to maintain that blood-sugar level throughout the day. Love that you’re getting it in!
xo
Amita

Rob Leonardo November 7, 2013 at 7:14 am

Well said! This came just when I am – once again – thinking about taking my diet seriously. What is it really that will make my abs flat? I can’t be in this mediocre state where I keep on going to the gym on and off, eating a healthy diet on and off– arrgh! I want results this time!

Ok, so far this week, I managed to go to the gym – a second time. And now I am working to take my diet to the next level ( I have stopped eating rice and started into salads in the evening) by removing more fat in the dinner table.
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Amita Patel December 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

That’s great! It’s not about big steps, it’s about small steps in the right direction. Fat is actually not bad for you (provided it’s a healthy fat) Our biggest issue is the sugar and processed carbs (i.e. white pasta as opposed to a sweet potato) Love that you’re cultivating a new lifestyle practice. Email me if you need support!
xo
Amita

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