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Food energizes us, nourishes our spirit, and brings us together with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also the source of a lot of stress, confusion, and frustration. Knowing what, when and how to eat can be so confounding that many people just say screw it and head to the donut counter calling their name, where nobody gets judged.

While eating well can be very simple – choose foods grown in the earth, drink water, enjoy things in moderation – human psychology makes things a lot more complicated. Most people know what is good for them and what is bad, but our emotions, schedules, and will power all have an impact on the way we eat. The only way to be successful when it comes to using food as a tool that makes us feel happy and not guilty is to put systems in place that fit in our lifestyle and align with our intuition. This enables us to take care of our needs while enjoying what we eat, and to be able to stress less about what we should and should not eat. Use the following tips to create structures that support your wellbeing and happiness.

Choose foods that nourish and fill you up

Eating empty calories like processed foods and sugary drinks not only widens our waistlines but affects our brain chemistry and our satiety hormones. Ever notice how you can just keep snacking and snacking and never feel satisfied or full? This isn’t because you’re still hungry, it’s because your body wants nutrients that it’s not getting. Eating small amounts of nutrient dense foods throughout the day will satisfy your cravings, keeping you full and stabilizing your hormones.

Make healthy eating easy

The fast paced lifestyle that many of us live requires that food be easy to access and enjoy. Unfortunately, most of that which is easily accessible to us on a daily basis is refined and void of the nutrition we need to stay focused, energized and happy. Making it so that healthy food is always easy to grab will help support your daily life and ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Try the following tips:

  • Have fresh fruit and nuts on hand as a quick and energizing breakfast. Fruit is full of nutrients and antioxidants, and nuts have protein that will help make you feel full for longer.
  • Keep chopped, crunchy veggies in the fridge to grab and go
  • Always have water on you – a lot of times we mistake thirst for hunger, so we eat instead of hydrating and giving our body what it needs. The result is that many of us are chronically dehydrated, affecting every part of our lives
  • Choose raw bars to snack on instead of ones with lots of refined sugar and processed ingredients
  • Cook once eat twice – cooking on a Sunday or a weeknight is a great time to prep food that you can keep ready to mix and match all week long. Making a little extra will enable you to have easily accessible, fresh snacks and lunches.
  • Only drink water, coffee, or tea – almost all canned or bottled drinks are full of sugars and additives that are not good for us. Do yourself a favor and stick to basic beverages to sip on throughout your days.

Pick your indulgences

Being healthy doesn’t mean giving up foods you love, it means knowing how to nourish your body without feeling completely restricted. It means giving up things that make you feel sluggish and guilty, and making fresh, whole foods the main part of your diet. Indulgences that are bound to come up every once in a while, so know what you’ll do when the time comes. A drink or two with dinner? Sure. Late night drive through curly fries? Probably not. Decide what indulgences you don’t feel guilty about having, and cut out things that will never serve you. Drink wine, eat chocolate, indulge in pumpkin pie, but create boundaries help protect you against eating things that you’ll regret later.

Constantly stressing about food all the time holds us back from our potential and prevents us from enjoying our lives and using food as a tool to do so. By creating a structure that reflects our values and supports our health, we can live more simply and enjoy the beauty and abundance that is available to us.

Photo by: Jeffrey Deng

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