Healthy Food Bites To Go: Why Listening to Your Body is the Greatest Gift of All

It’s starting to feel a lot like cold season. Maybe you planned to workout like crazy this week, but things got in the way. It’s hard to know if even wearing a winter coat is worth it on any given day, the weather has been so unpredictable.

Then of course, December brings with it seasonal indulgences that can be hard to resist. Energy-sapping Peppermint Mochas, Eggnog Lattes and Gingerbread Cookie Donuts beckon. Saw Santa giving out candy canes on line at Marshalls last weekend. Then just this morning, as I was leaving the gym feeling virtuous, I was invited to sample sugar cookies and cheddar biscuits whispering to me from a holiday tin by the exit door. Fortunately, remembering a container of roasted cashews sitting in my car, I was able to dodge that bullet. ‘Tis the season to be prepared for battle and to anticipate what the body might be asking for at a given moment. This can be hard to detect, when louder noises in your head compete for your attention. But in this season of giving and forgiving, be kind to and respect your body enough to give it both ears.

This will be no easy task if sleep deprivation, a stressful to-do list and cravings for caffeine and junk food are at your back. They are enough to trigger the resistance loop in your head, triggering excuses for not taking better care of yourself. Excuses are, we know, much easier and much faster to schedule than extra sleep, nourishing meals, gym runs and additional daily self-care.

Many of us are guilty some days, of falling into bed at a decent hour, and then jumping on our smartphone supposedly, for a minute, only to come to later digitally drunk on information, be it social media, news or streaming videos? Why do we ignore the needs of our body for rest and replenishment to feed an insatiable hunger for connection and reward, and at what cost?

  • Is your body trying to tell you something when you are exhausted, dehydrated, and moody?
  • Are you too driven to schedule breaks?
  • Are you paying attention to symptoms and signals, or just scrambling for a quick fix to suppress discomfort?
  • How temporary and sustainable are these fixes and are we abandoning our body in the process of seeking succor in our distress?
  • Your answer to these questions could have a direct and profound impact on your health.

Deliberately checking in with the body is a powerful alternative option.

Feeling dehydrated?

Recommit to drinking more water.

The brain consists of 90% water.

Water regulates body temperature.

H20 helps to improve stamina and productivity.

Lack of water can make it difficult to pay attention and cause feelings of false hunger.

Feeling anxious?

Take an aromatherapy session at your desk to calm you and enhance your mood. Keep a tube of peppermint-scented lotion on hand to re-energize the body. Breathe in the scent while massaging it into your fingers for a quick boost.

Feeling stressed?   

Stay fortified with whole foods containing stress-busting nutrients. Here are some from the plant kingdom:

Magnesium– to keep cortisol levels low. (oatmeal, almonds, bananas, dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds)

L-Tyrosine– to improve mood and reduce stress.(edamame, peanuts, avocados, spinach)

B-Vitamins– to reduce work-related stress. (sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, peppers, nuts, beans, broccoli)

Vitamin C – to lower blood pressure (lemons, cranberries, strawberries, pineapple, dark green leafies, potatoes)

L-Theanine– to relax the mind and boost focus  (almonds, brown rice, broccoli, tree nuts, teas)

Start with small and easy

Build routines around habits that don’t require a lot of effort. Fill a water bottle or keep bottled water in your fridge and grab one on the way out the door. Set the intention to finish the bottle before noon.

Refill the water bottle when you pass a water fountain. Done.

Avoid an energy crisis by not wearing late night, early morning routines as a badge of honor.  Poor sleep can create energy crashes all day, increasing stress hormones and triggering poor eating habits. Left unattended, these symptoms can lead to illness and depression. Don’t wait for the train wreck to take notice. Take a night off from the business of busy-ness. Schedule a hot bath before bed to wash away stress. It will immediately relax you.

Take a pause, and allow a little extra oxygen into your lungs. Breathe in some good intentions.

Find the calm in the middle of the traffic of your life, listening more and practicing repeatedly, in small steps, to hear what you really need rather than resorting to shortcuts to get you through your day.

Without a steadfast commitment to self, life gets messy.

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