Focusing on fitness goals can make enjoying feel good foods a bit of a pickle. The favorite foods get shoved back on the shelves and passed over with a guilty glance and punching out the cravings.
There are a few sacrifices when you are working on a major fitness or weight loss goal, but here’s the thing we tend to forget.
We don’t have to avoid feel good foods to keep our fitness goals.
I don’t want you to expect a revelation that you can enjoy your pastries no matter what. Sorry.
What I do want you to think of is how you feel after you wolf that pastry. Do not get me wrong. I am a huge fan of pastries. They are my favorite way to torture myself.
I am not a fan of the bloating, swelling, and carb crash that comes soon after a pastry binge.
I know you have some favorites that tend to pull your attention away from the “good for you” food. We are only human, and there are a few of us (myself included) that really loves things made with sugar.
Finding food that make you feel better.
Feel better is a relative term. What I really mean is finding foods you like, that have a better effect on your body than the crappy potentially junk-food material that occasionally insists on jumping into your grocery basket unprovoked.
Yes, there have been days where I checkout at the store and wonder whose 3 year old took over my cart in the junk food isles and forgot to tell me. Putting the items on the belt for check out shouldn’t look like half health food nut and half midnight snack fodder.
As with most things in pursuing a healthy life, the trick is to make these days less than typical.
Giving something new a try is one way.
This is always a good test to finding what makes you feel better. I know that any day that does not include processed flour seems a little easier to manage. My tummy had far less rumbling, fewer cravings for sugar, and no need to pop to button on my pants to make things a little more comfortable.
Of course this is not an enlightenment that came to me overnight.
The year before I decided that buying another pants size larger was not going to work for me, I tested a theory. We have an inside joke in my family that we are all bread addicts. As kids we used to fight over any dinner rolls on the table, and I still swoon at a warm bread basket delivered at any restaurant.
I used to think this was just our eating habits growing up until I did a ton of research on gluten intolerance and processed flours’ general impact on potential lower GI swelling (a.k.a bloating), joint swelling, and fatigue after a gluten.
I cut down on gluten for 4 months. Not completely cut it out, but it went from an every meal option to a once a week option.
That was when I lost 4 inches in my waist without doing anything else.
What sucks is that I love gluten in all its forms. I will never completely cut it out of my life. And here’s my point. At least I know what that particular feel good foods are doing to me. I can make the choice if having a homemade biscuit is worth the potential of a looser waistline tomorrow.
Here’s my question for you: Do you know what the feel good foods you are craving are doing to you?
Knowing is half the battle, according to G.I. Joe, so here is where I ask you to dig deep and really pay attention to how your food is making you feel.
Once you know the culprits, you can go about finding a few options. Not to replace them, because I’ve tried every non-gluten version of gluten things I love and determined it is not worth the trouble.
Instead I offer the suggestion to broaden your horizon. Try things you may not know exist, or aren’t sure what they are in the produce section.
Here are few of my go to favorites after testing what feels good to me.
This is fresh baby spinach that does come in a bag ready to eat and I steam it. Sounds simple and possibly gross to some, but whatever sauce you love on pasta will taste great on steamed spinach. A little goes a long way, for both spinach and sauce, and don’t knock it until you try it.
Agave in my coffee
I hate the flavor of stevia, or anything derived from stevia. I tried to switch over to a non-sugar option in my morning coffee, but I am a coffee snob. That means I actually like the taste of my coffee. No sugar laden non-dairy flavors added, and no tons of sugar, real or substitute to mask the lovely flavor of freshly ground beans.
I always equate agave with a honey substitute but was talking to a friend recently who used it in coffee. I have not missed the processed white sugar granules in my morning, afternoon, evening cup since. Yep, I love coffee.
Berries as dessert
I am not a fan of fruit. Unless someone has cut, peeled, and cubed it already for me and then I love it. For some reason berries have all this super goodness without all the need to prep them. They can be really expensive, so depending on how you are using them, the frozen versions might be a better deal. A scattering of raspberries on my plain greek yogurt look like rubies floating on a cloud. Too much prose, but a refreshing dessert anyway.
Are you willing to let your food help you feel good?
I know I’m asking a lot here. I am no saint when it comes to a chocolate attack, or impulse buy at a bakery. There just comes a time where we have to admit that the mood swings, occasional breakout, lack of energy has to be coming from somewhere.
It could be coming from what we eat.
What’s your all-time favorite comfort food? I’ll share mine if you share yours in the comments.
Go get your fit on