The Mindful Diet Days 8-14
Week 2: Do a Digestion Assessment
Writing down what you eat can help you lose weight, and the process will also clue you in to what foods your body digests well—or not, according to Doug Hyde, an Ayurvedic practitioner in Killaloe, Ireland, who offers nutrition classes and consultations. “Spending one week tuning in to your body and discovering the ‘healthy’ foods that aren’t great for you will set you up for success,” says Hyde. It can also help you stay on track with other goals. For example, if you commit to writing down everything you eat, you might not be as likely to cave and have that bacon or hot dog if your goal is to eat according to your ethics.
days 8-14: Keep a food diary
To figure out which foods make you feel fab—or drab—keep track of the following every day this week.
Nutrition. What did you eat? What was your hunger level before each meal? How did you feel 15 minutes afterward? Ideally, you should feel hungry but not famished before all of your meals (serious hunger pangs mean you’re waiting too long to eat and are more likely to overeat or make unhealthy choices), and energized within 15 minutes of finishing. Feeling like you need a nap post-meal is a sign you’re not getting the nutrients or calories you need.
Hydration. How much did you drink, and how thirsty (or not) did
you feel? You should aim to never feel parched, and should be drinking enough to pee 4–8 times a day. Your urine should be straw-colored—not clear (which can actually mean you’re over hydrating and your body isn’t absorbing the water you drink) and not too dark (which can signal dehydration).
Elimination. How often did you pass stool, and sweat? Everyone’s digestive system is different, but ideally you’ll have one or two bowel movements a day and not feel particularly gassy. You should also be sweating for at least 30 minutes each day.
“You’ll likely notice certain foods that you can eat every day that never give you digestive issues,” says Blossom. “Those are your power foods, which can be incorporated into your diet as often as you like.” As for the stuff that makes you feel sluggish, bloated, constipated, or just generally zapped? Steer clear to repair your gut, lose bloat and excess weight, and feel better.
See also Kundalini Yoga for Better Digestion
Instead of sharing with you every detail of what I eat this week, I am going to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about nutrition, hydration, and elimination; share some more recipes; and my meal planning spreadsheet.
How can you get more nutrition out of your food?
Many people don’t know how different traditional cooking methods affect the nutrition and purity of their food. Without going too far into detail, there are 5 main enemies of nutrition that should be considered: peeling fruits & vegetables, using excessive heat, oxidation (light & air), cooking in water, and cooking in harmful oils.
Peeling may seem second nature, but the reality is that a majority of the nutrition in your fruits and vegetables is contained just below the skin. When we peel our vegetables, we add another 5-10 minutes to our meal prep time, but we also lose a good portion of our nutrition in the process. Instead, wash your fruits & vegetables really well using either a strong acidic water (4.0 pH), or water mixed with vinegar, and use a scrub brush when needed.
If you’ve ever taken a bite out of an apple, left it on the counter, and come back to find it has turned brown, you’ve experienced oxidation. Oxidation occurs when food is exposed to oxygen, found in both light and air, and the vitamins and nutrients are affected. The change in color that we see shows the change on a molecular level within the apple.
The addition of water alone causes oxidation, which decrease nutrition, but tests at the University of Wisconsin Department of Food Science and Hazelton Laboratory conducted tests that showed boiling killed more than half the vitamins and nutrition in potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. Today, most people avoid boiling because they have heard that steaming is better, but it still requires water, leaving your food susceptible to nutrient loss.
Excessive heat can be hard to measure, but most traditionally cooking methods exceed the temperature at which we begin to kill the nutrition in our food, 200 degrees. Boiling occurs at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, steam is produced at 232 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you’re using a microwave oven you’re reaching temperatures of 400-1200 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
I touched on cooking with harmful oils in my tips & tricks, but this one is rather important. Not only do lower quality oils harm your body, but they transform any foods prepared in them into a harmful substance as well. When cooking, I always recommend using Organic Coconut or Grapeseed Oil.
Alone, each of these enemies of nutrition may only deplete 10-20% nutrition, but together, they can leave your food with little to no nutrition. When our meals are lacking nutrition we don’t have any fuel to burn, and we’re constantly hungry as our body cycles between the faux full feeling that occurs when we’ve stretched our stomach so far that there is no more room and the starvation that occurs when there’s room in our stomach.
How can you stay hydrated throughout the day?
You may have heard that humans need 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day, but this is based off a time when the average weight was a lot lower than it is now. Everyone’s body is different, but the new rule of thumb is to consume at least half your bodyweight in ounces every day. If you weigh 200 lbs, you should be drinking at least 100 ounces of water everyday, and anything else contributes to weight loss. If you’re more active or it’s a hot day you may need more, but make half your bodyweight in ounces your goal!
How to regulate your fitness & digestive routines?
No one likes to talk about his or her bowel movements, but let's be honest, it’s a significant factor to consider when measuring your dietary health. What you put in your body is what you get out: if you’re eating good healthy foods, your body will burn the energy and properly dispose of the waste. But if you’re eating crap, you’re going to feel like crap and endure endless digestive issues. Notice how your body processes each meal, and if you do have an upset stomach, take the time to pinpoint exactly what it was that caused it.
On the other hand, establishing a routine fitness schedule can help boost your metabolism and encourage you to make better eating decisions from day to day.
It can be hard to track what you eat all day everyday, but there are tons of tools for that now. Our trainer encourages us to use the My Fitness Pal app because they have a large database and its always at the tips of your fingers; but to plan ahead for the upcoming week, I prefer a spreadsheet printout. I found several different weekly meal planning spreadsheets online, but I needed something different, so I created this spreadsheet.
As far as meal prep goes, everyone has different needs. Some people just prep snacks and parts of meals, while others prep every meal of every day. I’m not the perfect meal prepper, but I have found a few things that help make things easier. One thing I highly recommend is preparing a large batch of organic beans from scratch each month, preparing a dish or two, and freezing the rest of them so you always have them on hand! They’re so easy to add to a dish and so much healthier than their canned counterpart. My favorites are garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black beans, and pinto beans. When preparing garbanzo beans, I like to whip up a batch or two of hummus, falafel, roasted chickpeas, and this BBQ Chickpea Salad! With black beans, I love making a batch of my Vegan Beet Black Bean Burgers, and with the pinto beans, I will make a batch of refried beans.