Let us take a moment to reflect on the word ‘diet.’ Why would we include a word for death in a term generally meant to encourage long lasting, sustainable health based on fueling our bodies and minds? Some have used the term ‘live-it’ to replace diet, to refer to a nutrition practice we should embody on all pets of our life. Diet also holds negative connotations, such as practicing an often short-term change to our nutrition habits.
In this post, we’ll be going over some broad health and nutrition practices in a health and wellness series targeting intuitive, intentional nutrition while we experience interrupted lives and lifestyles during COVID-19.
- Tracking Your Intake
Generally speaking, there are evidence-based suggestions on how much one should eat per day based on age, activity status, and other factors. Check out the CDC or other official health organizations’ suggestions for that. One of the best ways to supplement those basic guidelines is to eat intuitively and intentionally—your body is individual, unique, and you know what makes you feel the best. It is suggested to keep a food diary for a week or longer if you have not done that before, are changing paces in life (such as our current pandemic situation), or want to rediscover where your calories and nutrients are coming from.
- Observing your Nutrients and Vitamins
Stress and emotions also cause changes in eating habits—include that in your food diary and think of writing down what you eat as an external observation. If you are using a calorie-tracker app, look at what foods and meals the macronutrients and micronutrients are coming from or if you are lacking in a certain nutrient or vitamin over time.
- Intuitively and Intentionally Eating
A complementary practice of yoga as a whole is Ayurvedic eating, a way of balancing your ‘live-it’ through the body and the mind. Ayurveda is a holistic belief and practice originating more than 3,000 years ago in India and considered as complementary and alternative medicine in the United States.
It takes into account different body types, includes widely-accepted nutrition suggestions such as whole foods, and allows for people to beneficially consider what they are putting in their bodies and how. See Yoga Journal’s articles as well for different components of Ayurveda. It is beneficial to take into account what your body is asking for fuel, at what point in the day, or even in a certain situation in life. Be intentional in your live-it, but also be creative and have fun with new recipes and new combinations of food you already enjoy.
- Eating Mindfully
This image is from Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist; in his book Present Moment, Wonderful Moment. He speaks about food as the interconnectedness of species, both humans around the world and animals. He writes that we should have gratitude for what is on our plate, consider eating as a joyous and reflective meditation, and breathe. We should eat slowly, mindfully, and intentionally. We can listen to what our bodies want in the moment, consider how it might make us feel for the rest of the day, and then choose what to put in our mouths. We then savor it, appreciate it, and breathe to remind ourselves to chew completely and eat slowly. Use all the senses. Count your chews as a meditative practice.
Buy foods intentionally: what is in season? Check out https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide and https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/ to see what your area offers.
- Eating Seasonally
Eating as locally and seasonally as possible is not only beneficial for your health, but also the environment. Food that is shipped brings increased carbon emissions, use of resources, contributes to climate change due to the use of more shipping costs/uses and needs for prolonged storage, and other side effects of our global industrial food systems. Eating locally from a farmers market or wholesale store and buying in bulk also helps combat the food industry’s effects in climate change, from consuming less packaged foods to shifting the norm towards local farmers/producers.
- Eat a More Whole Foods-based Diet
It is well-accepted that a vegetarian live-it is healthy for the body and environment, based on whole fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds/nuts, and plant-based protein. However, some people may not be able to fully sustain themselves this way. In future series, we will explore this more, but start searching the web for documentaries and podcasts. These often cover a wider perspective of nutrition and the bigger picture of a live-it. Some recommended ones:
- Forks Over Knives
- Game Changers
- What the Health
- Rich Roll Podcast
- Talking tastebuds podcast
- Brown Vegan Podcast
And some more food for thought is at Food Tank, a nonprofit looking at new systems of doing food.
If you already have a well-established live-it, consider what aspect of your live-it listed above may need some extra attention. Or try bringing up a topic with an interested party (friend, family member, etc) for an open conversation about the live-its in both of your lives.
Now more than ever, it is not only a good time to try and eat ‘healthier,’ but essential to fuel our bodies and minds to function optimally against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is difficult sometimes. We all naturally have days where we crave processed foods, are too anxious to eat, or are cut for time on cooking a well-balanced meal from home. Often, people do not even have the agency or privilege to choose what they eat. It is important to not only consider your ‘live-it,’ but those of others. How do people who are incarcerated eat? What about people experiencing homelessness, those who are refugees or displaced, or those who have other barriers to truly having the luxury to consider changes in the way they are fueling their bodies and minds. As we intentionally explore our live-it and are becoming more mindful of the choices we put into our bodies, we will develop better habits. Hopefully, habits that are geared towards a holistic, balanced, nutritious, tasty, creative, and inclusive manner of embracing and sharing a live-it.
Maybe, take a moment to buy from the local grocery store, even if it is a bit further down the highway. Enjoy takeout with safe distancing and handling precautions and support a community restaurant. Deliver some baked goods to a friend, like this chocolate treat. And check out organizations mobilizing for a live-it for all in these times, like Feed the Front Line, supporting restaurants to support our health care workers.
Comment and let us know what other parts or specifics of a ‘live-it’ you would like to hear about next! Healthy and well wishes to you all!