by Ciara McNulty, Perpetua RIDE coach and student dietitian
When the nutrition experts say…you don’t have to skip
(3) your favourite restaurant meal
to live a nourished life, they mean it…
Despite most of us being aware of unsustainable, diet culture-endorsed practices like prolonged fasting, excessive calorie restriction and over-exercising, we commonly fall into traps of under-nourishing or underfuelling our activity. And I get it. It kind of sounds like it might work…more calories out, less calories in. How could I NOT feel and look better doing that?
FOOD IS LITERALLY FUEL FOR YOUR BODY
Firstly, it’s important to understand that food is energy. Food is fuel. Every little cell making up our body actually needs a pinch of that energy to do its job. For example, your brain can only function if there is glucose (or sugar) available in your blood. Your brain can’t communicate effectively with the rest of your body if you’re not feeding it.
Examples of functions controlled by your brain include the obvious; hunger signals, tiredness, engaging in conversation, reflex and reactions. Your brain is also in charge of processes more behind the scenes like regulating your sex hormones, muscle repair and growth, memory consolidation and storage and production of the neural transmitters involved in feelings and emotions!
So yes, it may seem logical to cut back on your treats and increase your physical activity, but there’s a fine line between causing unnecessary harm and thriving. The fact is that in order to prevent under-nourishment, we must get enough of the good stuff to fuel ourselves. To thrive, we can work on reducing the unnecessary stuff, such as the boredom snacks, which will help in making us feel better.
Lifestyle misconceptions promoted by people and brands you respect and admire make it hard to know how to excel. Relying extensively on external modes of information, probably coming from an unqualified source, puts you in the dark about what YOU need as an individual. Something I deem to be a major red flag is pushing an idea, ‘diet’, or ‘lifestyle’ that has a black and white structure.
Anything that restricts your choices because ‘it’s part of the plan’ should be AVOIDED at all costs. The problem with believing that you can’t eat before 12 pm, for example, is that it takes away your own intuition and connection with your own body. These blurred lines can hinder your lifestyle sustainability, increasing the likelihood of dropping everything and throwing in the towel.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”- Theodore Roosevelt
Comparing your intake to another person’s, out of context, or listening to advice given by someone who knows nothing about your physiological makeup, medical history or lifestyle preferences can be negative and harmful. We all thrive in different ways.
An example of this is the way we study in different ways to our friends. We all have the same end goal but use our own means of getting there. Some of us write out notes, others have a photographic memory and others can’t ace the test without reading and rereading the material ten times. We all require energy, but in different patterns and amounts. You wouldn’t copy your friends’ study regimen if it didn’t work for you, so don’t try and copy their lifestyle choices either.
LISTEN & ASK QUESTIONS
Making an effort to tune into your body can be the biggest guide to how you’re doing with your fuel and recovery
Try asking yourself:
- How’s your sleep?
- Are you noticing and responding to hunger?
- How is your muscle recovery- are you stiff/ sore for days after training?
- How’s your mood/ energy?
- How are your bowel movements (consistent for you)?
- How’s your motivation to work/ train/ socialise/ eat well?
- Are you happy with your lifestyle? This is key to a sustainable lifestyle.
Notice how WEIGHT is not there. It fluctuates. How you look? That changes daily too. Don’t stress about those. They’ll fall into place when the other building blocks do.
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