Do you find yourself drowning in information overload? While most of us drown in a sea of information (much of it conflicting, useless and just plain wrong) we are starving for wisdom. That seems to be particularly true in the areas of health and nutrition. The medical world is rampant with examples of flip-flops on what foods are good to eat and which will kill you (saturated fat, carbohydrates, eggs, and cholesterol have all been on the "They will kill you" list and the "They are actually good for you" list. Often at the same time, depending on which doctor you ask!). And so-called "health experts" can't seem to agree on what we should be eating. If we can't get reliable information from the people who study this subject in depth, how can we possibly decide what to eat for best health and energy?
According to Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) we should "Focus on the things that don't change". Jeff Bezos seems like a man who knows a thing or two about success, and his words ring true for success in the realms of health and well-being. Rather than following a fad diet (how long did the cabbage soup diet really seem like a good idea anyway?), focus on the foods that have nourished our species for hundreds, or even thousands of years. Nutrient dense foods that are free of toxic chemicals and flavorings, free of pesticides, herbicides and petroleum-based fertilizers, free of preservatives (real food doesn't last indefinitely on a shelf), free of inflammation-promoting industrially-produced rancid vegetable oils, free of artificial sweeteners. (Check out this post for a list of the nutrient dense foods you should be eating.)
I think we can all agree that eating chips, doughnuts, packaged cookies, sodas, sweetened coffee drinks, energy drinks, soda, and a wide range of other industrially manufactured, refined and denatured foods are not good for us. (Doesn't mean we don't eat them, just that most of us know it's not a good idea.) Why do we continue to eat foods that we know are not our best choice? Because we "deserve" a treat. Because we are too tired to choose something more nutritious. Because we are lonely, frustrated, angry, exhausted, bored, sad, stressed and mad. Because we don't get to express our true selves often enough. Because we are creatively stifled. Because we don't have the time or energy to pursue our dreams. Because we are trying to stuff down hurts and injustices from the past, cover our shame and guilt, muffle that little voice that tells us "There's more to life than this", whatever this is.
None of those are good reasons to eat foods that make us sick and sicker. This is where a good dose of wisdom comes in. Discovering ways to deal with the stresses of your life that don't involve food is a much healthier choice than emptying a bag of chips while sitting in front of the TV. A few moments (seconds?) of a tasty treat that wreaks havoc on your health is not an effective way to stave off boredom or deal with the other traumas of some aspect of yourself that needs true healing and wisdom. Here is a very short list of ideas to get you started:
Go for a walk
Call a friend and talk. Even better, meet with a friend live and in person and talk
Play with your kids (or a friend's or neighbor's kids if you don't have any)
Watch a funny video. Yes really. Nothing lifts spirits better than a good laugh
Put on your favorite song and dance and sing in your living room
Write in your journal. Don't have one? Start one
Pay attention to your breathing for 5 full, slow breaths
Practice progressive relaxation. It only takes a few minutes and it's enormously effective. Here's how: systematically tense and release particular muscle groups in your body, starting at your neck and shoulders and moving down through your upper back, arms, hands, abdomen, hips and glutes, legs, ankles and feet. After you tense and release each muscle group, notice how your muscles feel when you relax them.
Find something you are grateful for and focus on that feeling of gratitude for 20 seconds
May you focus on your inner wisdom and not get caught in the maelstrom of information that so many of us are drowning in.