Eating Right For You and Your Goals

What you eat has a tremendous effect on your body and mind. When looking to change your eating habits, there are many options and routes you can take. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer or way to know what’s the best one for you. Diets can be tricky and their standard one-size-fits-all approach rarely works with something as complex as food and our bodies. Rather than following a prescribed diet, working to figure out the best eating habits for you will leave you feeling great.

Body and Mind

Everybody’s body is different, and the same food can affect people in a variety of ways. We have different tastes, metabolisms, gut microbes, intolerances and allergies, and more. While some thrive on vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, others feel sluggish without doses of red meat. Some violently react to gluten or lactose, while others can eat them five times a day with no ill effects.

So how do you know what food is right for your body? The key is to listen to your body. Pay attention to what you’re eating, and how you’re feeling as a result. Tracking what you eat and tracking your mood and progress can help you get a feel for how foods affect your body and mind.

If you think you’ve pinpointed something that your body doesn't agree with, try an Elimination Diet. Stop eating that particular food for two weeks, without changing anything else. If you no longer experience whichever symptom you attributed to that food, slowly reintroduce it in small amounts and see if the negative effects comes back. If the side-effect returns, you might be better off eliminating that food from your lifestyle. If it does not come back, try and identify another cause and try the process again.

Goals and Activity Levels

What you should eat is dependent on your goals and activity levels. Depending on what your goals are and how much exercise you are performing, you’ll need to eat different levels of nutrients to reach and maintain your desired point. Someone who is aiming to lose weight will not have the same diet as someone who is looking to increase muscle mass.

For losing excess body fat, replacing processed foods and refined sugars with  more nutrient dense options can be a great first step. This, in combination with higher levels of exercise, can help tap into stored body fat as an energy source. For a hypertrophy or muscle mass gaining path, consuming enough protein to rebuild the muscles after resistance-based exercise is paramount. When you’re increasing endurance-based exercise, the body needs enough carbohydrate stores to support long workouts.

No matter what foods you decide to eat, make sure that it aligns with your body, your goals, and your activity levels. You can eat the healthiest food in the latest issue of your Health Magazine, but if it doesn’t work for you, it’s not a good option. Pay attention to your body, and enjoy the process of shopping, preparing, and eating your food.