Eating Right

Nutrition is a highly personal subject; asking someone what frequents his or her plate may stir up a heated debate. Before I began studying with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I had set beliefs on what composed “the right” way of eating. After a year of exposure to over 100 dietary theories, learning about bioindividuality, and self-experimenting, my understanding of proper nutrition expanded.

At a young age I developed a love for cooking, fortunately, growing up in a home where meals were made from scratch. In the kitchen, my nose composed the flavors of a dish. Scent became my immediate indicator of which spices would complement each other. Taste is intimately related to the sense of smell. The sensory experience of cooking has always felt more like an artistic endeavor to me.

In my Polish upbringing and in American culture, vegetables are an afterthought to a dish. The stars of a meal are animal based proteins and starches. Sometimes my family ate a side salad but it never held the same weight as the other components. If other vegetables were included, it was typically steamed root vegetables. Lacking in flavor and texture, I did not develop a liking to these sides. When I left for college, I left with an obligatory association for vegetables.

Transforming the way I eat, my relationship to, and the purpose of food created monumental change for my fitness journey. My health goals began with a single-pointed focus of a beautifully fit body and a commitment to actualizing my intention. My old paradigm of thought ignored the power of food as medicine; my hunger was emotionally led rather than physically required. I observed what foods I consumed and when my hunger would kick in, I noticed cravings for sweet foods, desserts, and liquids over savory meals. Consciously changing my diet into more nutritionally balanced meals showed me the sugar addiction I had developed. I choose the word ‘addiction’ purposefully; for two weeks my dreams and my first thoughts of the day surrounded slices of cake, lattes, cookies, and bakery treats. I was unaware of what my eating habits had become until I chose to create change.

I recognized I could trust my body and its hunger effortlessly if I first fed my body savory nutritious ingredients. My logic led me to explore the world of vegetables. As with any quest we take on, what we seek finds us. Australia has a strong conviction for healthy sustainable living; I dived into plant-based eating via friends in Melbourne, attending Andi Lew’s cooking class, and eating at vegan restaurants.

My two weeks of weaning off sugar tested my mental and emotional perseverance. A block from my Melbourne apartment on Lonsdale there was a Greek bakery with wide windows displaying freshly baked goodies. Tucked into Drewery Lane, there was an artisan cafe, Little Rouge, serving the most delicious matcha lattes. Local wines from Yarra Valley were sold at very reasonable prices and tasted mouthwatering. I indulged in all of these delights but I committed to learning the power of moderation over gluttony.

I dedicated myself to nourishing my body for 14 days. Setting an intermediate short-term goal strengthened my chances of success; I released attachment to results and instead remained open to noticing any differences that occurred. It takes roughly two weeks for our bodies to begin their detox; the third week of changing an eating habit eases our bodies’ digestive system into becoming familiar to a new style of eating. At the end of my sugar detox, I initially observed a significant change in mood.

My hunger levels stabilized and I redeveloped my connection to food through cooking. My grocery shopping consisted of the outer aisles at Woolworth filled with fresh produce, sustainable seafood, and meat. My kitchen was stocked with vegetables and healthy fats, lacking in dairy products and grains. Anytime I became hungry, I started cooking. It took discipline to transform ingredients into a satiating meal rather than grabbing a prepackaged snack off a pantry shelf. I planned meals and anticipated hunger after my workouts, preparing food before I left for the gym to stave off “hanger” hungry-anger.

My journey into conscious eating began with two weeks of self-disicpline. Learning how to cook meals that centered around filling plant-based foods broadened my cooking knowledge. I learned to create flavorful vegetable dishes with spice mixtures and herbs. I developed a deeper connection to foods I used to view as “necessities” in my diet. Vegetables became valuable, tasty, and nutritional powerhouses.

Thank you for diving into my story of discovering the value of food and its subsequent effects on my physical body. Shifting my eating habits has reconstructed my world in a multitude of ways that I cannot capture in a single article. For the sake of your patience, my readers, I will close here. Please stay in touch with Liv Breathe Discipline through Instagram and Facebook for newly published articles.

Liv Dzumaga