“I’m going to eat healthier in 2017!”
Does this sound familiar to you? For many of us, it
does. Unfortunately, the statistics tell us that most people attempting similar New Year’s resolutions give up – after only TWO days of trying!
Why do we make these food resolutions and not keep them?
We all want to do better each year, and New Year’s feels like a great time to start making those resolutions. It’s a fresh start, and it seems like we will have the drive and the energy to push ourselves in a way we haven’t before. If only it worked that way. Over and over we hear people around us say that
they had intended to do better during this new year, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. So how do we fix this lack of resolve? One way is to start at the source, inside ourselves.
Under optimal conditions, it still takes discipline to create new habits and abandon less healthy ones, but from a young age we are constantly barraged by things that chip away at our health. Stress, addictions to unhealthy foods, lack of sleep, and other poor lifestyle habits all add together to create problems.
It’s hard on the body, causing internal imbalances that can eventually develop into more serious issues over time. In Chinese medicine, our goal is to balance the internal energetic functions of the body so that it can work at its optimal level. We find that
people who are imbalanced typically develop many of the health issues commonly seen in the civilized world, like indigestion, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, brain fog, body aches and pains, and more. Improving your habits is easier when your body is in balance, and a body in balance is better able do the things it is supposed to naturally do, such as holding onto resolve.
Realistic, small resolutions will have a better outcome.
At our holiday party this year, my 9-year old son ate too many treats. Over the next several days he had a stomach ache and diarrhea. Once we sleuthed out the source of his discomfort, he was dumbfounded to learn that that was because of what he had put in his body several days before. It had never occurred to him that what you do on one day affects you for the next several days, maybe longer. By the time you have forgotten about the treats eaten on Monday and start to feel better by Thursday, you are likely craving more treats, and you are setting up a vicious
cycle where you cannot exit, teaching yourself that feeling poorly is basically your norm. This is just a small example of a huge problem. No matter what you read and no matter what we’re told, we cannot escape the fact that we live in a society where plenty of our food is not as healthy as we assume it is, and this significantly impacts our digestion, and our long-term overall health. How can we fix this? Start with a resolve to read food labels! Too many foods are laden with added sugars and preservatives, and eating them means we crave even more sugar and we’re not going to feel good. Learning more about your food will spur your desire to modify what you eat. Reduce the processed foods, sugar, and preservatives. Most people fail when they make large, sweeping statements about what they are going to change, so reading food labels will give you more insight on what you put into your body. Once you have done that, you are eating more mindfully and will be on the road to better health. The human body is a biological machine, and if we put the right nutrients inside it will do ok for a while, but in our crazy, hectic, stressful world of genetically modified, sugary, preserved foods it’s very hard to stay on top of our health. Wear and tear, life stress, and a lifetime of eating foods that might not be so great do take their toll over time. Because of this, we need more than just good nutrition to stay healthy. I don’t believe in asking patients to make sweeping changes, because for most of us this is not realistic and unsustainable.
I believe in small, easily manageable changes, as well as enjoying things in moderation. I teach my own children to savor the occasional sweets they eat, because they are called “treats” for a reason. I never say don’t have it, but I do say I have a small piece, eat it slowly, and savor your food. We read labels, and even the kids have spearheaded some changes in our home as a result of their newfound knowledge.