The Perfect Diet
So many of us are on the hunt for the “perfect diet”. You know the one–the single system or way of eating that will create the perfect weight, ideal health, boundless energy, perfect mood, longevity, and a lifetime of eating without any doubts. We search and search for this elusive perfect diet. But we are continually left wanting.
We may become overwhelmed by the massive amount of conflicting nutrition information out there and the vast number of dietary approaches. Or we may find a way of eating that feels like the perfect diet. But then something changes and we struggle to understand why it’s no longer working for us. Or we find an approach that seems to work pretty well but we sense something important is still missing.
The problem is food isn’t simply fuel. We are in a relationship with food. So searching for the perfect dietary approach is like trying to have the perfect spouse, raise a perfect child, or have a perfect friendship–it doesn’t exist! And the needs of a relationship are constantly evolving. So what works well one week may not work so well the next.
We end up wasting a lot of vital energy and time trying to find perfection. Instead of using our energy to nourish this vital relationship, deepen our connections, and savor the richness that has been available to us all along.
Once we finally relax our search for perfection, we can instead become curious explorers in our own bodies.
“When you finally let go of trying to find the perfect diet, you can relax and be an explorer. You can test out new approaches, new foods, new supplements, or the latest diet, and see how it works for you. Why not be an inspired scientist about your own body.” – Eating Psychology
Jumping Off Point
So let’s not stop at the objective nutrition information, diets, and rules, as most of us have been taught to do. Instead let’s use this as a jumping off point.
Rather than thinking of nutrition guidelines as the whole story, consider thinking of it as only the beginning–as a place from which to begin your own personal food exploration. The most vital information comes from mindful connection to and exploration in our unique body as it changes over time. It’s the only way to account for the genetic, environmental, and biochemical individuality that makes each person’s nutritional needs unique.
An Explorer In Your Own Body
This whole concept of personal food exploration might sound intimidating at first. But many of us are already doing it naturally. If you know red peppers give you indigestion, you feel tired if you don’t eat protein in the morning, or you crave fresh salads in the summer–you are already exploring! Most of us can’t help but explore. We can, however, learn to tune in more deeply and frequently to the information available to us through our bodies. This is where mindfulness comes in.
When we eat mindfully we can tune into something deeper and wiser than any food rules or diets–a partnership with our own body. There are many ways to eat mindfully. They all usually involve eating slowly, focusing our attention on the eating experience, engaging our senses, checking in with our body, getting curious, and tapping into the pleasurable aspects of eating. One of my favorite mindful eating techniques is the one Cara shared with us in her blog this month.
So instead of following a set of rules or someone else’s wisdom, get curious and explore. And do this in whatever way feels interesting, enjoyable, and nourishing to you. There is no right or wrong.
Try new approaches, new foods, and new preparation methods. Work with a professional who can help you explore more deeply. Or simply add in some great music or wonderful company to your meals. Then engage all your senses. Get really curious. How does your body respond to this food? To eating in this environment? To this way of thinking about food? To this eating schedule? To this pace of eating? How do you feel right after eating? A couple of days later? How did you sleep afterwards? Run any nutrition information you’re curious about by the gold standard test–the wisdom of your own body.
Investing in our nourishment is an ongoing process of discovery. There is no final destination. We will never arrive at a perfect diet or approach. Rather the nourishment we need will continue to evolve with us. And our job is to continually listen, learn, and adjust. By adopting a conscious attitude and curiosity around food and nourishment we are able to remain flexible and adapt to our ever changing needs.
Enjoy the ongoing exploration!