The #1 Way You Can Know if the Food You Eat is Right for You
One of the things that I most get asked by our detox participants in our Wellness Center at Samahita Retreat is: how do I know what foods are right for me? As the veritable flood of nutritional advice out there can be quite confusing, even contradictory at times, it is hard to feel perfectly confident in “external” advice these days regarding what is right for each individual’s own body. So here are some ways that you can begin to tune into your own body and situation, to make your own “internal” assessment of what works best for you.
Here at Samahita Retreat, we offer an approach to self-healing that includes wisdom from Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Indian system of health and wellness. Ayurveda is the “science of life,” and as such provides us a prescription (not in the way that you think of prescriptions nowadays!), for how to really LIVE a vibrant life. This requires regaining balance when we are “off” – you might even think of life as a constant juggling of many variables within us to regain homeostasis – balance – because many, many things can make us “off” at any time. The Ayurvedic wisdom is based on looking at individuals as unique and seeking out the root cause of “dis”-ease, as opposed to lumping individuals into a category along with others who display similar symptoms, declaring a disease or disorder, and treating the symptoms rather than the root cause.
So to figure out what is right for you, it requires tuning into yourself. You will first need to accept that your body-mind-spirit, and your unique situation on this planet, including things like your “samskaras” (habitual negative patterns) and karma (your path and the obstacles that you face and have an opportunity to work through in this lifetime), make you a one-of-a-kind specimen on this planet. As such, nobody (not even me – sorry, folks!) knows exactly what right for YOU, except for you.
Finding your own eating path and what works best is a very individual journey. We can take advice from Ayurveda, Western science, and many other traditions – however, in the end, these provide only guidelines. For your true inner wisdom and answers to shine through, you must look inside, and be honest with what you find.
There is one main “rule” in telling whether a food is right for you, and that is this: A food is right for you if it gives you ENERGY.
This is an energy that lasts, by the way, not one that leaves you feeling drugged, groggy, craving another “fix,” etc. It is also not an energy that gives you a crazy high, and then a depressing crash. Many stimulant foods, such as processed treats, stimulate a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine – the “feel good” hormone. This gives you the ILLUSION that you are doing something good for yourself – however, a few minutes or an hour later, the truth is revealed when you crashing and depressed.
I will give you a couple of examples: there is a new movie called “That Sugar Film” which does a good job of showing the manic state that accompanies sugar consumption, and the mood swings and depression which follow. Also, the book THE SCIENCE OF SKINNY by Dee McCaffrey talks about the energy we get from processed foods and sugars being “fake energy.” This kind of manic, crazed energy is not the kind that is sustainable, nor does it mean that the food is good for us.
On the other hand, when you eat raw foods (as long as you can tolerate them, as they do contain a lot of fiber, which is hard for some to deal with – and they can be more work for the digestive system than digesting slightly cooked foods), they contain living enzymes. The job of enzymes in the body is to speed up certain reactions. This is why people tend to feel ALIVE when they eat raw foods – or even just foods as close to their original state as possible, no processing. (And by the way, if fiber is difficult for you, then try juicing – vegetables only, with ONLY some fruit added, because even natural fruit juice will have some of the same problems as we experience with more processed sugars – that’s a story for another time!).
So in order to see what foods truly give you vibrant, healthy, sustaining energy, try experimenting with different foods, and notice how you feel afterwards. You might want to even keep a journal, because when relying on memory of these things, it is easy for the tricky mind to find ways of favoring stimulant foods rather than simple good-for-you foods. Notice how you feel when you eat something processed, versus something in its whole, natural state, and try to be objective. Really take into account when you have reached a crash state and feel that you cannot live without injecting another simulant into your body. Really notice when you have eaten something simple, pure, whole, that has made you feel content, uplifted, happy, even joyous, and try not to discount it because it seems too simple or boring. We live in a go-go-go society, in which many peoples’ adrenaline is pumping from dawn to dusk and beyond – but if we are willing to try it, the seeming unsexy-ness of eating natural, whole foods may become very sexy when we realize what we stand to gain – abundant energy, stamina, great hair, youthful skin, etc, etc.
One last note on all of this – sometimes it may take committing yourself to a few days or a week of eating only raw foods, or only whole foods in their natural state, in order to really notice the difference. Unfortunately, many people are not really in touch with their bodies, so it is sometimes hard then to see what thing is affecting what, or is causing what result. It is much clearer and easier to see when we can commit ourselves to a finite period of time as an experiment. Remember that your body is the laboratory, and nobody knows what goes on in there except for you! Don’t feel comfortable or confident to do this on your own? Samahita’s detox program can support you!