I don't mean diet as in a restrictive eating pattern designed to lose weight. I mean diet as in the foods I eat each day, and when. As I mentioned before, I've developed a fierce snacking habit. It's been going on a long time but since I haven't been working out like I was last year during Ironman training, it's now quite obviously a habit and not a true physiological need for fuel. I just love to eat.
Yup, that's right!
Except it flies in the face of how I really want to be living, which is thoughtfully, mindfully, intentionally. Working out just so I can eat everything in sight is not tuning in to what is good for my body and my self-esteem and my long-term health. I want to exercise to be strong and confident and to stay active with my kids and someday, God-willing, grandchildren. If I'm running so I can dive into a bag of chips and salsa sans guilt when I get home, that's just slightly-less-instant gratification. It also keeps me on the hamster wheel of "earning" and "making up for" the next or last meal. That's not a pleasant or healthy way to live.
And so the diet assessment isn't just "stop eating so much crap"; it's also "pay attention to your body" and "eat when you're actually hungry, not when the thought of food pops into your head or there is food nearby or you smell something yummy". Food is an immensely pleasurable part of life on this earth, certainly, but we are blessed such that the food will be there later. Or tomorrow. Or next month when it's the holidays and your grandma's angel food candy makes it's annual appearance.
I've seen on Facebook that parents are doing a version of the classic Marshmallow Test with their kids; testing their self-control with candy or treats. We tease each other sometimes at my house, calling someone "a marshmallow eater", when they "just can't wait" and snatch a hot muffin from the pan or spends their babysitting money on gum, rather than saving for the new AirPods they've been wanting. We're joking, but there's truth behind it. How many times have I been a Marshmallow Eater, choosing not to practice self control and maturity when it comes to food? Too many times, unfortunately.
So that's the brain game part of why my diet needs some tweaking. There's a whole bunch of science behind why cutting out the snacks is a good idea too, but that's a post for another day. Right now I'm focusing on how I feel emotionally and how the food I eat makes me feel physically. You bet I'm trying to cut out the processed snacks and sweet treats that have worked their way back into my life but I'm not expecting to eliminate them entirely. I own my love of chocolate almonds and wine.
For me, food and feelings go together. I'm trying to make that work for me by intentionally connecting positive emotions to my food choices throughout the day. Eating veggies early in the day make me feel like I'm ahead of the game. Switching from coffee to my "creamy green tea" (green tea with almond milk) comforts me as I work in the afternoon. Cooking up a delicious dinner for my family lets me express my love for them. (And they appreciate it with their nightly, "that was really good, Mom, thanks!) My chocolate almonds and glass of (dry) wine are my indulgences, a way I relax.
Every day is a new chance to make choices that help me feel good emotionally and physically. Food is a huge part of that so right now I'm working on zeroing in on the right combinations of what and when, where and why, I eat. It seems like every day is slightly different, and that's okay. Another day, another chance to practice mindful, intentional, flexible living.