Eat to Feel Good and Find Balance in Life

Later this week, I’ll be speaking to a group of ladies in lovely Bozeman, Montana, as part of Montana State’s College of Business Women’s Circle of Excellence. I’ll be sharing my words of wisdom on how to achieve work/life balance in today’s harried pace. Given that during the past two months I have bought a new house, sold an old one, moved to temporary living, survived my dog’s surgery and run the Boston Marathon, I’m not feeling like much of an expert on balance! However, I am writing today to give you an excerpt of what’s to come in my talk.

Eat to feel good (not to be skinny!)

As I suggest at the start of Finding Life’s Secret Sauce, if you eat like crap, you’ll feel like crap. And how could a person possibly achieve balance in life if you always feel bad?

I obsessed over losing weight when I gained my Freshman 25 in college. I fixated on calories, starving myself one minute then eating mass quantities of fattening Southern food the next. The more I focused on getting myself thin, the more tempted I became to eat the delicious leftover desserts in the Chi Omega house at 11 p.m. As you might imagine, I didn’t lose a lot of weight eating this way. Even worse, when I ate poorly, I felt ever worse. I was tired all the time and often experienced delightful sugar hangovers.

When I completely changed my eating habits – stopped dieting and started eating well – the pounds dropped off. The process didn’t happen over night; in fact, it took a couple of years. But I have kept the weight off ever since.

Use food as information

Someone recently suggested to me that we should use food as information to feel good. What a wonderful and aptly worded statement! Eating the right foods to fuel our day and make us feel good bypasses any need to starve ourselves and eat erratically in hopes of dropping pounds.

I just finished reading an interesting article from that suggests we consider the life in food we eat and not just the calories. Poking fun at how McDonald’s foods rarely decompose over time, the author argues that foods which are “alive” are meant to break down inside our bodies. That’s one of the reasons that whole foods such as fruits and vegetables are more likely to provide energy and vitality than ones ridden with preservative and additives — they break down naturally as part of the digestion process.

Track your habits

Though I am always learning about food and its relationship to my well-being, there’s nothing like a keeping a healthy living journal to help you figure it out. By tracking what you eat, how much you exercise, the hours of sleep you get, how much water you drink and other life circumstances, you’ll start to get a vivid picture of what foods give you energy, boost your mood, help you sleep and keeps you healthy. Just the other day, my husband was saying, “When is the last time someone in our family has been sick?” I hope I won’t jinx anyone, but healthy foods can boost the immune system, too!

Today, I never count calories, and my friends often laugh about how much I eat. Despite my love for Kettle chips and sweets, I eat well so I can avoid a life of deprivation. I really think that’s what food is all about – not starving yourself to be razor thin or have abs of steel.  Rather, food is a conduit to feeling good, looking good and finding balance in life!

Melinda Hinson