Food is fuel. When we eat clean we choose the cleanest fuel to give the most energy. Have you ever eaten a meal and immediately felt tired and needed a nap? Have you ever felt bloated, crampy or gassy after a meal? Have you eaten something and then been hungry or moody less then half an hour later? Chances are you were eating dirty….and doing that too often leads to long term fatigue and reduced performance. How can we turn that around and get the best of the your body machine?
Food should have the most nutrients possible for what you are eating. Foods contain macro nutrients: Carbs, protein, fats and fibre, but they also contain micro nutrients – small amounts of matter that are required for body function. Vitamins, minerals as well as enzymes, phyto nutrients (plant based nutrients) and antioxidents all work to help your body function its best. Enjoying foods with the most bang for your buck will leave you feeling satisfied, energized and vital.
Foods to avoid are the ones that contain little in the way of micronutrients and those that will need to rob your body of micronutrients to be digested and processed. This includes: refined sugar, processed foods, spoiled foods, food you are sensitive to, non-organic food, damaged fats, refined starches, artificial foods, chemicals and “dead foods”.
So what can we eat? Live food is food which will spoil. Fruits, vegetables, fresh meats and animal products, whole grains, oils, nuts and seeds. Enzymes and fragile nutrients in these foods help in the digestion process. Indeed the very enzymes that cause food to spoil will help your body to digest and assimilate the nutrients. Live foods don’t need labels, they come as single ingredients that you can blend together into healthy meals.
The way we eat can be dirty as well. Eating when stressed, while sick or late at night is bad for your body. Avoid eating when:
Stressed – the body isn’t prepared to digest, it is prepared to flee and digestion shuts down. Heavy meals will rot and ferment in the stomach. If you need to eat choose something small and quick to digest like fruit. When eating a significant meal, always take time to calm down so your body can concentrate on digestions.
Exercising – eat at least an hour before exercise or wait to finish exercising. Unless fuel is needed for long sustained exercise there is no reason to eat during. Performance will suffer if you eat while working too hard as blood flow will increase to the digestive system and draw away from muscles. As well, food will not digest properly because muscles are drawing away circulation from the stomach.
Illness – there is a reason people eat chicken soup while sick. Dissolved nutrients in broth and long simmering breaks down food to make it easily digestible. Do yourself a favour when sick – eat fruit, soups and lots of fluids to let your immune system work efficiently and reduce the energy needed by the digestive system. Have you ever been sick and the cold just keeps hanging on? Eating heavy meals while sick will keep you sick longer.
At the first sign of a cold or flu reduce your eating to well cooked simmered soups, steamed fish, boiled eggs and fruit. Eat this way till recovered. High quality proteins, well cooked grains and lots of fresh fruit will provide easy to digest nutrients needed by the immune system. Keep eating this way until you are fully recovered. Your body will thank you.
Late night – your body goes into repair mode at night. There are a lot of jobs to do to clear out toxins and begin to rebuild tissues that were broken down in the day. If you eat late at night you stop the repair cycle as the body concentrates on digestion instead. After digestion the body will begin the repair and detox cycle but often this is drastically shortened and the result is fatigue in the morning and soreness because your body didn’t finish the job.
Eat something light at least two hours before bed if night time hunger is an issue. If you work shiftwork, try to eat lightly before you head off to your daytime sleep. Adjust your eating schedule to replicate what it would be if you were a day worker. Eating for effective sleep is the cleanest thing you can do for your body.