Cheat days are good for the soul. But what happens when that cheat day turns into a cheat month? After a fall off the wagon, there’s nothing to do but hop right back on….right?
Functional medicine pro, Dr. Mark Hyman, is addressing the mind and body blocks we all encounter when we’ve fallen off track. Ground down, pack an “emergency kit” and get back to your goals…
Whether you call it flow, zen or mindfulness, being in the present moment can teach you a lot about how to eat and live. For me, living in a state of flow becomes about finding the perfect balance between challenge and comfort. Flow is about being so enamored with your present moment that all sense of ego subsides as a more playful yet focused consciousness overcomes and completes you.
You’ve probably felt this alive and in tune with yourself when you get involved in something you love. If you’re a writer, you become so engrossed with the process that time falls away. Everything feels effortless. What does flow have to do with eating and living healthy? Well, everything. When you’re in flow, you relax and aren’t so focused on being perfect that you miss out on life.
As a medical doctor, I know the road to healing takes many twists and turns and is often bumpy. Emotional, mental and physical pain becomes part of healing. Sometimes we need to fall off the wagon to get back on.
If you can remember that your body is innately wired to do the hard work of healing, then you can trust the process. Trusting your body knows what to eat, in the right amounts and at the right pace, is part of relaxing into your ultimate state of flow.
I don’t eat perfectly all the time. Then again, what I consider “perfect” means something different than conventional wisdom’s understanding of the word. To me, eating well means providing my body with the nutrition it needs so that I can live the quality of life, which keeps me in flow.
Rather than being incredibly stringent and then beating yourself up, you can flow with eating, particularly during social occasions where you might be a little more relaxed. Use these five strategies the next time you fall off the wagon and need to get back into flow.
Get back to basics
Are you one of those people who approach eating as all-or-nothing extremes? People commonly rationalize their motives for straying from their diet because something “off limits” slipped in at a family party or event. Or maybe a stressful morning or afternoon led you to indulge in potentially inflammatory, sugary food. If that happens, don’t let a “stray moment” blow out of proportion. Get right back on track with basics like healthy fats and protein.
Eat real, unprocessed, whole foods
Make this easy on yourself. Make 50 – 75 percent of your plate a variety of colorful vegetables. Toss all packaged and convenience foods. Eat a meal or snack high in protein and healthy fats every three to four hours. Remove all refined flours and unnecessary sweeteners. Avoid all potential food sensitivities and allergens – especially gluten and dairy.
Plan, prep and proceed. The ultimate way to keep yourself on the wagon (or give yourself a boost if you do) is to have a plan, account for prep work and proceed until you see the moment through. If you go to a restaurant, a Google search beforehand can help calm you so your company gets more of your attention than the menu.
Keep an emergency kit Handy
When you travel, pack an emergency food kit with blood sugar stabilizing foods. When I leave home, I usually bring some of the following:
+ an ice pack and a small cooler
+ almonds or walnuts
+ can of sardines
+ hummus, tahini or cashew butter in a 1 ounce salad dressing container for easy storage
+ carrots, sugar-snap peas or other stable veggies
+ an apple
+ dark chocolate, 70% or higher
Find out what works for you. In any situation, the possibility to upgrade your food choice exists so you can optimize nutrition. You always have choices!
Let go of perfectionism
Don’t let a good moment pass due to fear, anxiety or guilt around not being perfect. This negative mindset actually fuels the flames of inflammation as much or more than eating a single, small portion of a recreational food. So when you are on a break, give yourself a break!
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.