I love motivating mantras. I am a sucker for them and when I find one that really resonates with me I even entertain the thought of getting it tattooed somewhere on my body for about 4 seconds. Truthfully, I usually just end up writing it down on a sticky note or in my planner, or on the dry erase board on my refrigerator. However, this one mantra in particular, is one that I feel NEEDS TO BE RETIRED and we need to now replace it and release the 2.0 version.
Ok, so you heard it here first…. We are officially retiring…
“You are what you eat.”
We are now releasing the 2.0 version of this.
I mean seriously. I totally get how this mantra came about and the well intentioned meaning behind it. Aside from the young child who might take this literally and think, “huh?, If I eat an apple, then I am an apple?” Anyone over the age of 12 can certainly comprehend the benefits (I suppose) behind considering this mantra. Obviously, it once perhaps served as a means to motivate people towards eating more healthy foods. We can interpret it in ways such as; “ I eat healthy, therefore I am healthy.”
Regardless, of my wanting to retire it, it’s probably going to stick around. At least people are having fun with it. Just look at what a simple google search “you are what you eat” will bring up in “images.”
I loved to see that people have gotten creative with the mantra and made some fun out of it with these…
But seriously, what purpose is this serving at this point? When you hear someone say this or you read it somewhere aren’t you just like, “yeah, yeah, whatever…” It’s not like people are embracing this mantra and experiencing life changing outcomes. So, join me in officially saying “rest in peace” to this mantra and welcome in the 2.0!!!!
Here is the 2.0 version!!!! Are you ready?????
YOU ARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT.
It stems from the mantra, “what the mind believes, the body achieves.”
Here are 3 reasons why the 2.0 version is really transformative:
Unhealthy beliefs about food lead to an unhealthy body. We are constantly labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” …”healthy” or “fattening,” …”wholesome” vs “garbage.” If we employ the (now retired) “you are what you eat mantra,” we are then inherently sticking those labels onto ourselves. “I ate something “bad” today so I was “bad” today. You believe that you are bad if you believe that you ate bad. If we refer back to “what the mind believes the body achieves” then when we are believing ourselves to be bad we will move towards that “bad” undesired outcome. Our bodies will move toward being “bad” simply because our thoughts are telling it to do so. Our outcomes follow our thoughts. We must stop with the labeling of foods and the shaming that follows. A healthy relationship with food is key and that comes only from practicing moderation and maintaining balance. There really is no bad food, no bad drug, no bad thought, UNLESS we are not in balance with it. If we are in balance, everything is “good.” Hence the mantra, “it’s all good.” If you are eating wholesome, nutrient rich foods, then having a food that is not chock full of healthy stuff will NOT break an already well-operating system. On the other hand, if you are eating too little of the wholesome, nutrient rich foods, and you are eating too many of the foods that are not dense in nutrients and do not necessarily serve your body’s needs, then you are not “in balance.” I know you are saying “duh” to yourself right now but, bear with me…I’m headed somewhere with this. When you think about balance, consider the saying “…too much of a good thing…” The words “too much” imply there is a lack of balance. Because when you have balance you don’t have too much, you have “just right.”
Believe you can consistently practice balance with food. Believe this because you can! All or nothing thinking has no business here. Just the saying “all or nothing” is the exact opposite of balance. How many times have you started off a Monday thinking; “I’m all in!” I’m totally going to eat only the foods that will help me to lose weight and I am going to kick ass this week!! Note the word ALL in the first sentence and the word ONLY in the second sentence. Right there, we we are setting ourselves up to be unbalanced with our thoughts about food. Balance aint got time for the words ‘ALL’ or ‘ONLY.’ How many times have you heard “eat a balanced diet?” This is truly the secret that is not even a secret! Yet, why is it so hard? It is because of what we believe about foods!!! We can comprehend the idea of the benefits of a balanced diet but our labeling of foods as good or bad and then labeling ourselves as good or bad causes us to be out of balance. It is possible to achieve balance with food but we must first change the labels we use.
Align your thoughts with your goal. Thoughts about food and the labels we assign foods need to be carefully considered if we want to move towards our goal. One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People tells us to “Begin with the end in mind.” What is your desired outcome or end? If you desire to have a body that works and feels great, what thoughts about foods will bring you closer to achieving that end? Certainly, you won’t attain this with the “good” and “bad” labeling of food. For instance, if you think of grilled chicken or fish as simply “good” or “healthy” and french fries or a chocolate chip cookie as “bad” or “fattening” you are NOT going to move so easily towards your end goal and here’s why. You will feel proud of yourself and feel in your power when you eat the fish or the chicken and then you will deflate your pride or power when you eat the french fries or the cookie. And, be honest here…you ARE going to eventually have the french fries or the cookie. If you think you are going to go through, or WANT to even TRY to go through the rest of your life without ever eating another french fry or cookie then just sign off from reading the rest of this right now. However, if you embrace the power of balance and you are ready to change your thoughts about these foods (and all foods) to being “labeless” and think of them as simply one example of the many, many, different foods that you eat at different times, for different reasons, you are very likely to achieve your desired outcome – a body that works and feels great. The idea behind this is again balance. Oh, and of course, balance. Then sprinkle in a little balance. Seriously, you NEED to eat chicken and/or fish (lowfat protein rich foods) to have a body that works and feels great and you also NEED to eat french fries or cookies (or foods you consider yummy for pleasure) in order to have a body that works and feels great because your brain is part of your body and your brain gets signals from the foods you eat and sends your body back more signals. Since birth, you have been wiring your brain to release certain hormones from the foods that you eat. If you are constantly eating foods that you have “labeled good” and ignore or restrict yourself from foods that you have always eaten but have grown to have labeled as “bad” your brain will release some hormones while restricting the release of others and you will basically walk around being an angry, moody, irritable, and essentially unhappy, resentful person who eventually will cave in and eat way too much of the exact foods you were trying to avoid. Foods that bring pleasure are a NECESSITY (did you hear me?… a necessity!) and let’s face it, grilled chicken doesn’t bring you the same pleasure as french fries or a cookie. The pleasurable foods release dopamine in the brain while the restriction of foods raises ghrelin which is a hormone that signals hunger. Dopamine is a feel good hormone. It makes you feel like everything is right in the world. Ghrelin serves the body by saying, “hey buddy, time to eat or we won’t function properly” Eating ONLY the foods we labeled as “good” is setting your ghrelin to increase and your dopamine to decrease. You can’t outsmart your body. Your hormones will beat you! Every. Single. Time. Know this! Align your thoughts with your desired outcome.
So, how can you begin to change what you believe about the foods you eat and eat so that you are in balance?
Here is a good place to start.
Start by being mindful. That is all you have to do right now and it may even be all that you have to do at all. Pay attention. In our busy lives we tend to mindlessly eat, grab what is convenient, or grab for what ever food first pops into our minds simply because we can. Food is everywhere and always available. We don’t have to wait for it to be “in season” or for it to be made and then delivered. We are lucky in that way but we can still get into a rut of always eating the same things and not getting enough variety.
Make a list of all the foods that you like to eat and another list of all of the foods that you more frequently eat. No judgements! Just, think about how you balance your intake of the foods you like. Are there any foods that you eat more than others? Are there foods that you like that you know add benefits to your body and the way it performs and feels but you have simply fallen out of the habit of buying them or preparing them for yourself? For me, I know that I can eat pizza every single damn day but I know that it would not provide me with a balance of nutrients and if I ate pizza every day for either breakfast, or for lunch, or for dinner, I would be missing out on other important nutrients that my body needs.
“Eat the rainbow.” I feel that this is a simple visual way for me to focus on getting a variety of nutrients in each day. It can look something like this..
Red= apple, strawberries, or peppers
Orange= an orange or a sweet potato or a pepper (lol, those peppers are truly colorful aren’t they)
Yellow- banana, pineapple, pepper (hee hee)
Green= pepper! (HA HA) or of course grapes, salad greens
Blue= blueberries, plums, eggplant, pepper (just kidding, no purple peppers, only purple people eaters)
You get the point. Try it out! Let me know how you feel.
Welcome to the 2.0!!!
You ARE what you BELIEVE about what you eat!
Believe that all the foods you like to eat are available to you. Believe in balance! Practice moderation and eat a wide variety of foods. Believe in the value of balance, variety, and moderation! Believe that you are perfectly capable of eating a balanced diet of foods that make your brain AND your body feel great.