May 15, 2009

We Become What We Consume

It has been said by many, and I’ll reiterate it now:

We become what we choose to think about.

But what’s not often said is that how we think and how we feel physically are determined to a great extent by what we consume:

The sounds and images we take in… What we choose to read… The words we use… The people with whom we associate. And to complicate matters even more, the very substances we eat.

That’s right. You not only become what you think about.

You become what you eat.

In overcoming years of anxiety and depression, what I learned from personal experience is that it was not enough for me to shift my thinking and alter my Habits of Mind. I had to change my Habits of Body, too, and that meant I had to consider what the foods I ate were doing to my biochemistry.

Fact: Your body is an intricate, fascinating biochemical engine. Like the engine in your automobile, it needs fuel and lubrication to run effectively. It’s interesting that Much of what nutritional science and functional medicine now tell us about good diet isn’t all that different from what your great-grandmother would have said:

  • Watch your carbs. If it’s white, don’t eat much of it. Good as they are, sugar, breads, and other starches can wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Today we know that blood sugar levels have an enormous effect on how we feel.
  • Eat your vegetables. Lots of them, the fresher the better. Eat more vegetables and fruits than anything else.
  • Don’t be a pig. Watch your portions. A serving of animal protein, for example, should be lean and no bigger than your fist.

That’s all sound, healthy advice that fell by the wayside for a time as fast food, fatty diets, and super-sized portions became a regular part of the American diet.

But according to doctors like Mark Hyman, author of The UltraMind Solution, we cannot obtain the nutrients, amino acids, and trace elements we need from today’s foods. The reasons are complex, and I recommend you read Hyman’s book as a starting point.

Educate yourself and learn to understand what your body really needs for you to think and feel healthy.

Other books on this topic that are must reads include:

For now, start observing how you feel at different times of the day. How do you feel after a meal? Energetic or lethargic? What did you eat, and how much?

The more you tune into the signals your mind and body give you, the easier it will be to identify the foods you’d do better leaving out of your diet. So watch, be aware, and decide how you want to feel.

Then consume accordingly.

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