Deciding “what to eat” is a terrible place to start for healthy eating
I first heard about the “Golden Circle” from Simon Sinek, in his TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Sinek proposes that what makes great leaders great is that they are clear about and can communicate why they are doing what they’re doing. Then they focus on how to do it, to meet that why. Then, they focus on what to do, again to meet their why.
This applies perfectly to weight loss. Most programs that are trying to help overcome struggles with food start by telling you “what to eat” and “what not to eat”. The guidance from the U.S. government comes in this fashion, with Dietary Guidelines specifying “what to eat”.
But those of us who have struggled trying to maintain our weight, or have any peace of mind around sugary foods or processed foods that have been engineered to be irresistible… for us… it’s not that we don’t know “what to eat”, it’s that we can’t do it!
Better is to back way up. As Dwight Eisenhower said, “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it!”
By starting with “why you eat”, you can get at the root of the challenge. While the answer to “why” now is often emotional eating, stress, boredom, peer pressure, or reacting to deceptive advertising, the correct answer to “why you should eat” is something around why your life is important.
By not aligning with your purpose, you may be pushed toward eating for other reasons to cope. If you are ignoring warning signs from your body about deep-seated issues (maybe you need to forgive someone, quit your job, or change a relationship), you may find yourself stuffing your emotions and your face when you’re not hungry or with food that isn’t nourishing your cells.
The other “why you should eat” is to fuel your body. How you treat your body impacts your ability to live life to the fullest!
Once you get your “why” figured out, next is “how”.
If you run roughshod through every meal, not noticing what you’re eating, how many or how fast, you’re likely to have a problem with food or your weight.
When I lived in South Korea for awhile, I ate dinner in silence with the Buddhist monks as part of an overnight “Temple Stay” at Beomeosa. It was an incredible experience.
Our modern style of wolfing down our meals is about as far away from that as imaginable.
But if you do learn mindful eating, where you are filled with awe and gratitude, and are knowledgeable about where your food came from, and you have your why down pat, then you are ready to decide what to eat.
Now, it’s key to know about “bioindividuality”. This is a term I learned when I studied to become a Holistic Health Coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
It just means that my food may be your poison, and vice versa. And, what works for you today, may not have worked for you when you were younger, and it may not work for you next year, or next month.
So, yes. Do your research. Get expert advice. But know that your magnificent 24/7 feedback system (aka “your body”), will be reporting to you to help you figure out “what to eat”.