1. We need to start looking at food as medicine - good nutrition maintains health and prevents disease.
2. Make small, 1% changes to improve your diet and overall health. Eventually eating healthy will become habit.
3. You don't have to be perfect. But if you make a concerted effort to be healthy the majority of the time, you don't have to worry about those days when healthy food isn't available, or when you have to grab a quick meal on the road.
We’ve launched this eat smarter module with a brief look at the role of nutrition in our daily physical health. Why worry about what we eat? Because food is the most powerful drug we put in our bodies.
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician and father of western medicine, said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We generally don’t think of food as medicine, but we should. Everything we eat and drink enters into our bloodstream and affects our brain and body function. Every bite, every sip.
Consider these definitions:
Drug: a substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.
Medicine: the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease.
Food works the same way: it can help prevent and cure disease and it maintains our health. That is, when we develop good habits and make good choices. Food can also damage us, make us more susceptible to disease, and undermine our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Remember that you control what you put in your body. There are lots of people around you who purchase or prepare your food, but you get to decide what you eat. Educate your the people around you, if needed. Ask for the foods that build health. Get creative and be assertive.
Our physiology is built based on natural principles that have evolved over millions of years. We are designed to change and grow, for better or worse, depending on what sort of stimulus we put on the body. The more the stimulus, the more effective the adaptation, as long as it is spread out over time. Short-term bursts of stimulus usually cause problems and make us injured or sick. Spread the same amount of signal over a long period of time, and the body will get stronger and healthier.
It’s kind of like watering a plant every day rather than flooding it out once or twice a month and then leaving it. You just won’t get healthy growth that way.
The same idea applies to the human body. So often I’ve been asked what you should eat the day of a race. And my answer always causes some raised eyebrows: “it doesn’t really matter - what matters is what you’ve been eating for the last six months.” I’ll take the athlete who eats well every day over the athlete with only a great race day plan. My friend Dr. John Berardi calls this the “myth of game day nutrition.”
The weekend food warrior – the once-a-week intake of quality, fresh foods – is not building daily or long-term health.
I’m guessing that there are times you may feel overwhelmed when you read these posts. I know from personal experience that the barrage of recipes, superfoods, spices, recommendations and advice about what to eat and when to eat it can be a lot to take in. So I thought today would be a good day to loop back to the habit-forming habits we talked about early in the program.
Habits form slowly through deliberate effort and 1% changes. No person can revolutionize their eating overnight. It’s all about starting somewhere and then building on that momentum. And once you are eating well, it’s easy to keep the habits going and include other interesting options.
One of the reasons it takes time to get into good habits with food is that we only inhabit our own subjective experiences. We are all living in our bodies and, no matter how much you know that your food choices aren’t ideal, you are used to how you feel. It can be hard to imagine and believe there is a better way. Eating for performance is about working toward feeling more alert, energetic, rested, sharp, productive and clear headed. It’s a state of being that takes time to achieve and focus to maintain.
And nobody needs perfection. One of the worst mindsets we can adopt while trying to build new habits is that we have to be perfect. Nonsense! Our goal is to make small, incremental changes so that we arrive at a place where a good majority of our food intake is high-quality.
Today's POWER-UP: Be Consistent
1. BUILD A GREAT LIFE ONE DAY AT A TIME. BE CONSISTENT. LOOK FOR SMALL IMPROVEMENTS THAT YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO FOREVER.
2. HOLD EMERSON’S FAMOUS WORDS IN MIND: “LIFE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION.”
3. IT’S NOT THAT YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO GO. YOU ARE HEADED TOWARD YOUR DREAM. IT’S THAT YOU ONLY GET THERE BY TAKING CARE OF TODAY.
4. IF YOU START SMALL, YOU WILL EVENTUALLY MAKE BIG CHANGES. EATING WELL HAPPENS ONE LITTLE MEAL AT A TIME.