Eating naturally is more about how you eat than what you eat. To eat naturally means to eat real food, based on your body’s queues, and using your own body’s biofeedback as the measure of success.
Eating naturally means that you never override your body’s own feedback in favor of someone else’s rules. It means that you understand, respect, and really listen to what your body is saying. It also requires that you learn to differentiate your body’s needs from that of your mind.
There are two key concepts to natural eating:
eat real food
listen to your body
The are two key sub-points related to these:
fulfill your soul’s needs authentically, not through food
understand the energy cycle
Eat Real Food
Real food is food that was not made in a manufacturing plant. It does not come in a package and has not had isolated chemical compounds added to it.
Packaged foods usually contain real food ingredients, but they also contain isolated compounds that significantly alter the chemistry of what your body sees. Let’s be clear about one thing, though. It’s not necessary that every single morsel of food that enters your mouth is real food. The stress of feeling pressured to live like that is worse for you than any junk food. Just make sure that most of what you eat is real.
Real food is extremely important both for the nutrition and for the bodily queues it provides about the nutrition. Scientifically, we are always led to believe that all of the essential vitamins, antioxidants, and other food compounds have been found already and as long as we get the scientifically recommended dose, we’re good to go. But then scientists are always discovering some new thing in food that no one has ever seen before.
This alone is reason enough to eat real food, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s how the various compounds in food interact that’s most critical. This interaction is exceedingly difficult to understand, scientifically, because of the inherent complexity of interactions.
Here’s one example: First we thought calcium was critical. Then it turned out the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio was more critical. Then we learned that the amount of vitamin D was immensely important in relation to calcium. Then, oops, there are different types of vitamin D and only D3 works for this purpose. Now we are learning that we can’t even utilize calcium without vitamin K and, oh ya, it’s K2. By the way, did you know we just realized that vitamin D isn’t even a vitamin? It’s a hormone.
Do you see what’s wrong with thinking you’re fine because your cereal has the recommended amount of calcium added to it?
Real food is not a few isolated chemical compounds. It’s a highly complex interaction of tons of compounds, most of which we don’t really understand.
The good news is that you don’t need to worry about every aspect of real food. Your body is a master chemist. It understands chemical needs, chemical balance, and chemical interactions in ways we can’t even imagine. Your body expects to see the complexity of real food, and it will tell you what it needs if you listen.
Listen to Your Body
You are unique. Everything that your body has become is different from everyone else. How you handle stress is different. What you ate yesterday – and last week and last year and over the course of your life – is different. Your genetics and early development are different. Your daily physical requirements are different. What you have available to eat is different. What emotional state you’re in when you eat is different. What your body needs at any given point in time is different. You need to listen to your body.
Your body processes thousands of chemical signals simultaneously to maintain blood pressure, pH, salinity, blood sugar levels, hormone levels, oxygen levels, muscular contractions, digestion, toxin removal, thoughts – you get the point. Your conscious mind is capable of processing a whopping seven things at once. This is good. It allows for the focus required for analysis and imagination. But it’s not particularly effective when it comes to making food choices that directly influence those thousands of chemical transactions occurring in your body right now. You need to listen to your body.
To listen to your body about food, you need to do four things:
1. Pay attention to the first thing that pops into your mind (before you start in with, “I should eat…”).
2. Be a curious eater. Try to fulfill your body’s primary desire (ex: something salty, something energy-dense, something liquid) with a variety of different things to see what works best.
3. Really taste your food. The things you most need will taste the best (by design!) and often you’ll find that the things you thought you wanted (out of habit, mostly) don’t actually taste very good when you really pay attention to the flavor.
4. Pay close attention to all your body’s biofeedback, especially the immediate signals of hunger or satiety and thirst. Other feedback includes warmth after eating; happiness during eating; warm hands and feet most of the time; naturally white teeth; strong, fast-growing nails and hair; moist skin, and a basal body temperature over 98ºF.
When you start noticing these things about your body, you will be able to create an appropriate diet for yourself, especially if you learn to differentiate physical food needs from emotional ones.
Fulfill Your Soul’s Needs Authentically, Not Through Food
If you’re like most people, you have been taught to think of your body as your nemesis, always driving you to eat things you don’t need and that are bad for you.
I don’t believe this is true at all. Why on earth would Nature create something so self-destructive? I think the real explanation of your body’s role in eating problems is actually quite beautiful.
Happiness and fulfillment completely change the chemistry of your body, moving it away from the adrenaline state and toward the high thyroid state (good).
The right foods also create a low adrenaline/high thyroid state and those foods are…, you guessed it, the foods we call “bad”: sugar, starch, salt, and saturated fat. That’s why you have physical cravings for these things when you restrict them artificially from your diet. But you can also have emotional cravings for them above and beyond your physical needs. This is because of the similar chemical effect to happiness and fulfillment that they produce in your body. But since a low adrenaline/high thyroid state is a combination of physical and emotional inputs, you have to have both to achieve this most desired of all states.
This state is so important to your being, that, if you’re not fulfilling the emotional side of it, your body will do everything it can to help you get there. This means telling you to consume more foods that induce that same chemistry, even though you don’t need the calories.
When you think of your body as your partner and not your nemesis, you can see that this is almost an act of sympathy. Your body is trying to help you. But because both the physical and emotional contributions are required to achieve the high thyroid state, it can’t ever get you all the way there. There is just an unending craving. This is why the help your body is offering is sad, yet beautiful.
You need to realize that the fact that you’re alive means that you’re worth living authentically. To live is to live authentically. Decide you’re worth it and fulfill your soul’s needs.
Understand the Energy Cycle
Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It just is. What energy does is to change forms.
Life is energy in an organic form and successful life (health) is what happens when you extract, utilize and release energy effectively. This is the energy cycle in our bodies. I call this the metabolism-release cycle, where metabolism means extracting and utilizing energy and release is just that, releasing it.
Your body has all kinds of systems in place to maintain equilibrium between metabolism and release. This is how it not only maintains stability in all your bodily systems, such as hormone levels, pH, salinity and blood sugar levels, but also your “fat mass” (fat is reserve energy). When the energy cycle is working correctly, you will have a lean, healthy body. When the cycle is not working correctly, you will have chronic health problems and/or be over or under weight.
Both metabolism and release are affected by both physical and emotional things. They also influence each other, but, for simplistically, think of it this way. Metabolism is mostly affected by physical things such as food, water, sleep, sunlight, genetics, etc. Release is mostly affected by emotional/mental things such as happiness, love, fulfillment, authenticity, clarity of thought, etc.
Resolving your “stuckness” in the energy cycle is the key to fixing chronic health and weight problems. You do this by listening to your body and fulfilling your soul’s needs.