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The Mindful Diet


It's funny that when you mention the word “diet” in conjunction with any other animal, the meaning is completely different to when you mention it with humans. Koala bear? Eucalyptus leaves. Lion? Meat. Human? Atkins? Dukan? Low fat? Somehow it's gone from meaning the entire composition of what we eat to referring to a very specific type of eating – that done in order to lose weight. So many people seem to be stuck in a cycle of losing weight, returning to old habits, piling it back on then starting the cycle all over again. Instead of looking at the underlying issues and trying to implement long-term changes, they go for quick fixes, then wonder why they're not only frequently unattainable but also leave them ending up feeling like crap.

I'm well aware that some of what I post will sound anything from smug to preachy to outright patronising, and actually it's been a blocker in my writing about nutrition and so on – I worry that as a “skinny”* person readers will think I'm being judgemental and patronising. Actually, I feel very passionately that a healthy and fit body is attainable to everyone – it was one of the things that motivated me to start writing about training and this lifestyle, and is something that motivates me to share what I've learnt with other people. I don't consider myself different or special in any way, and if I can live healthily then anyone can – you just have to want to.

After a good few days of pondering, I thought a good place to start the ball rolling is the idea of “mindfullness”. It's simply the idea of thinking about what you eat. So rather than feeling hungry and making a snap decision to eat some biscuits or get a cheese sandwich, or whatever takes your fancy, it's taking a moment to stop and consider what your nutritional and physical needs are, and making a decision on that basis. Maybe you pigged out on cake yesterday, and feel a salad would be a better option, or perhaps you're having a roast chicken tomorrow so want something lower in protein.

Which brings me onto the fact that everyone has different things that they want out of a diet (in the proper sense), and should learn to make choices that are right for them. Part of mindfulness, in both the eating sense but also in the meditative and philosophical sense, is learning to take responsibility for yourself, and not letting yourself be led by: advertising, other people, circumstance, your sweet tooth etc. For me, I aim for three things: to make sure I get the quality energy I need to work a full day and train afterwards, to get the protein I need for my muscles to recover and build, and to keep my blood sugar levels as stable as possible, for the benefit of my all-round health (more on that another time).

This blog isn't here to tell you what to do, but to (hopefully) give you the motivation and a little nudge to do it yourself. A quick google will lead you to all sorts of resources, and there're many books on Amazon on the subject (like this one and this one) and as a starter read, there is this post from the excellent Zen Habits blog.

Taking the few seconds to make good decisions will have a big impact on your life, and is the first step in taking control of how you eat.

* “Skinny” - I hate this word as it's so often used by people to refer to someone that isn't overweight (usually by people who are), rather than the body type to which is actually refers. I have it levelled at myself and often hear it made about friends or public figures. It always seems loaded with jealousy and bitterness, and I hope that if you're one of the people who use it then you will think and be more mindful in future. I nearly did a ranty post about it, but figured that would be boring so I'm just going to have a little whine here and call it quits ;)

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