The Real “Feel Good Foods”

Let’s see if this sounds familiar… It’s been a long day, maybe even a long week. It’s time for dinner and you’re still stuck in traffic with no desire to cook when you get home. So, you pull into the nearest fast food joint to pick up some carryout for yourself and the family. Or, maybe you just pull up an app on your smartphone and order pizza to be delivered straight to the house. There. Feel good food is on the way! Problem solved, right?

Well, it might have sounded good at the time, but what happens after you eat? You feel sluggish, drowsy, tired, and maybe even your mood is a little foul. Is it because you’ve had a stressful day or week? Or because Johnny brought home a report card that doesn’t look as good as it should. Or, maybe your spouse left a big mess in your bathroom after taking a shower? Hmmm…could be. But, it’s more likely it was the food you just ate.

Believe it or not, your eating habits don’t just effect your waistline, they also affect your mood. If you’ve forgotten what it feels like to have plenty of energy and a positive outlook on the days and weeks ahead, you might consider eating better. Eating traditional comfort foods doesn’t really bring the comfort you’re seeking.

Feed Your Attitude

When we eat healthy foods, we don’t just move closer to a healthy weight, but we also fuel a healthy attitude. And, let’s be honest, when our attitude is negative, that’s when we’re most likely to go for those less-than-healthy “comfort foods.” But, that’s exactly when we need to avoid them the most!

I know how tempting it can be to reach for a bag of chips and not even think about portion sizes. But, trust me, it’s not a good idea. When we’re upset, it’s even harder to make good food choices.

Baby Steps

Going cold turkey and allowing your body to fully clean out the toxins from past poor food choices is best. But, if that’s not going to work for you, at least commit to making baby steps towards healthier eating:

Replace junk food. Instead, choose things like carrots, apple slices, cottage cheese, hummus, almond butter, etc. It’s a proven fact that if you have healthy food options in your fridge, you’ll eat healthy foods. So, set yourself up for success by not bringing the temptations into your home in the first place. Stock up on nutritious snack foods instead of the ones filled with preservatives and hidden sugars.

If you simply must have packaged foods waiting in the pantry, read the label and choose those with the fewest ingredients, lowest sugar and a healthy carbohydrate to fiber ratio (carbohydrates minus fiber = net carbs). Go for those snacks where the net carbs are in the single digits. My personal favorite is the original flavor Skinny Pop popcorn (just three ingredients, and only nine net carbs). But, remember, just because it’s an “approved” snack doesn’t mean you can eat the whole bag. Pay attention to the serving size.

Cut back on sugary sodas and juices. And, don’t even try to tell me that your sodas don’t count, because you drink diet. Those are far worse than their sugar-filled counterparts (I could write an entire post on the dangers of drinking them…who knows, maybe I will do that in a future post). I recommend not keeping sodas in your home at all. We have made a commitment to only drink a maximum of one glass of soda at a meal that’s served to us in a restaurant, and we’ve taken it one step further to say that we will only have one meal per week in a restaurant. Water is always best, but if the restaurant serves tap water, that’s when I give myself permission to have iced tea or a small soda instead.

Move your mass. Yes, that’s right, get up off the couch! Sitting still, being bored makes it way more tempting to grab for that bag of chips or a cookie than if you were out walking, or moving around. Take the dog for a walk, Take your spouse or your child for a walk. Or, get some alone time and take yourself for a walk. And on the way out, grab a bottle of water…you probably haven’t had enough today, anyway.

Reduce stress. Try meditation or yoga, or even deep breathing exercises. And, look at your schedule to see what responsibilities you can delegate to someone else. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Life is too short. Take time for things that make you happy, and eliminate the things that don’t bring you joy.

Find an accountability partner. When we share our goals and commitments with others, it makes it harder for us to bail on them down the road. So, connect with a Coach (I’m happy to help, just contact me), or enlist the support of family or friends. They can be there for you in your time of weakness to remind you of the commitment you made. Better yet, get them to make the commitment with you. You’ll both end up with better results.

Don’t skimp on sleep. Remember your Mom saying that you needed at least eight hours every night? Momma really does know best. Lack of proper rest fuels cravings, makes you grumpy and can make it almost impossible to lose fat. The first four hours you are asleep are just for adrenal repair…to recover from the stress on your body just from living the day. The remaining four are for rest. If you can’t do eight hours straight at night, find a time for a nap to fill in the gaps.

Avoiding those traditional “comfort foods” can be a challenge, but when you do, you’ll find that you have more energy, are more alert and focused, and generally less stressed. Eating for “comfort” rarely brings the real comfort we need. I hope you’ll give the baby steps approach a try, even if you just focus on incorporating one new step each week, you’re still making great progress.

You’re worth it, you know!

~Coach Teresa

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Tom Gibson