A testament to the POWER OF FOOD
This past week I decided to do something a bit unconventional – I intentionally ate 100% off diet all week long, and didn’t let myself get back on my diet until the week was over.
I’m sure, first of all, many of you are wondering …WHY?!
Well, there were many little reasons, but the main on is this – I’m an awful dieter. It’s taken me 2+ years to get to a point where I both eat a healthy diet and enjoy my diet. There were quite a few bumps in the road along the way of overly-restrictive, self-hating, diet-binge-diet-binge, yo-yo type dieting. Eventually I figured out what works for me and was finally able to put together a healthy diet that I’m proud of and enjoy eating. However, like I said, I’m an awful dieter, so no matter how much I may enjoy my everyday diet, it’s incredibly hard for me to completely stay away from any one type of food – fast food, cheese/dairy, sodas, pizza, etc. I had been having a lot of cravings before the start of last week, and so I decided to just give in to all of them at once in the hopes of getting it out of my system. What actually ended up happening was sort of a psychological experiment with myself as the subject…
A quick run-down of my 100% off-diet week:
– Sunday was great, because I didn’t have to go grocery shopping or meal-prep like normal, and I drank a ton of beers with my husband.
– Monday was good, because I didn’t have to pack tons of food for the day. Instead I just ate the catered food provided by my company… food that very shortly sent my stomach into turmoil; not so good, but hey, I was still enjoying it.
– By Tuesday I was continuing to love the convenience of eating the catered lunches, snacking mindlessly on the foods provided at work, and not having to pack a lunch. However, my stomach was protesting, and my energy level was beginning to noticeably dip.
– On Wednesday I was starting to hate it. I was craving fresh, healthy foods, but wasn’t going back on diet until the week ended, so I just went next-door and got some McDonald’s. Sure, it tasted great. For the first two bites. By the time I finished I felt legitimately sick and just wanted to lay on the couch and lazy-it-up for the rest of the night. The food was literally exhausting me.
– When Thursday rolled around my energy was LOW. I think I drank two cups of coffee that day, which is unheard of for me, and I was starting to dread my workouts at this point – also not a common thing for me. I was starting to feel poorly in other aspects of my life as well; work, home-life, etc.
– On Friday I was lacking both energy and motivation, decided to skip crossfit, and went with an easier workout instead. I was so low on energy, though, that the workout was extremely hard to get through, and I almost felt worse when it was over. (Insane.) By this point I was looking to comfort myself with the very foods that, on Wednesday, I thought I’d had enough of. I went over to McDonald’s again and stuffed my face with a bigmac before going home and going directly to bed.
– On Saturday I was extremely down. My energy was at its lowest as was my motivation for anything, much less working out. I skipped the gym, and probably slept for 15+ hours of the day between waking up late, napping off-and-on, and going to bed early.
Notice any sort of pattern?
The foods I was eating were not nearly as nutrient dense as the foods I normally eat. I was also eating foods that hurt my stomach like cheese, milk, and milk-based products, because they’re extremely hard to avoid in processed products. And, lastly, I was drinking sodas, coffees, and juices in place of all the water I normally drink.
Naturally my energy dropped. The dip was noticeable by Tuesday, just 2 days after I started eating off diet, and by Thursday it was starting to negatively effect me in multiple aspects of my life.
Having lower energy severely reduced my drive to work out during the day. I had so much less of it that it was hard to WANT to go expend a ton of energy in the gym.
All of these physical effects combined and started taking a toll on me mentally. Being so fatigued all the time was pretty depressing on its own, but then, losing the desire to workout just made me feel awful. I wanted to WANT to workout, but I just couldn’t, and that made me feel extremely lazy. I was tired and truly just never wanted to get out bed; not very conducive to leading an active lifestyle.
And here is where the negative cycle comes full circle – feeling so poorly mentally made me turn to food for comfort… but not the kind of healthy whole foods I’d have to prepare for myself. I was looking for sweets, cheese, and fat. I ate so many bagel bites during that week that I’m almost embarrassed to say. I even ate donuts – I hardly like donuts! But, for some evil reason, these are the kinds of foods that comfort us when we’re down. Unfortunately, though, they only tend to perpetuate the our negative feelings when we overeat them, and overeating is exactly what we do when we use them for emotional comfort.
So what’s the point?
FOOD IS POWERFUL – Nutrient dense foods are amazing for fueling and energizing you. So, it’s no surprise that healthy diets are composed of these types of foods. And, on the flip side, processed foods, high fat foods, empty carbs, sweets, and pastries do a very poor job of fueling/energizing. Instead, what I learned first-hand, is that they do quite the opposite. Yes, the foods satiated me, but they also sucked the life out of me.
You hear these sorts of claims all the time; that the foods you eat can affect your quality of life, you are what you eat, you’ll feel so much better with a healthy diet, etc. etc.
And I’m here to say:
I 100% support those claims.
I’m NOT saying you should never touch these unhealthy foods, but I AM saying that a diet composed completely of them is doing nothing positive for you. This isn’t something I’ve been ignorant to until now, but I’ve never so clearly seen the link between the foods I was consuming and the way I was feeling. The connection was very real, and though I don’t have more empiricism to throw at you, I still fully stand by these claims.
Food can be your best friend, and food can also be your worst enemy.
It’s up to you which it becomes.
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Pura vida and stay strong, Fit4Reviewers!