I looked into a Cheetos bag and saw my very soul

I like to post about healthy eating and lifestyle habits, but you should know that it isn’t all green juice and quinoa in my house.

In fact, last week, it was all about Cheetos, Cheez-Its, movie popcorn, M&Ms, and other processed foods. Why? Well it was that perfect storm of not enough sleep, not enough exercise, not enough meditation, too many activities, and too many leftover snacks from my daughter’s sleepover. Any time I felt the need for extra “energy” or just an emotional boost, I reached for a processed snack. The problem with those kinds of snacks is I can never, ever have enough. They are not at all filling, but they give me a short-lived emotional high that can be difficult to resist. There’s always a cost, though, after several days of this. All the salt makes me dehydrated, I get low in vitamins and sustaining energy because I’m not eating nutrient-rich food, so I reach again for easy energy, and it all starts over again. It all came to a head — literally — when I developed painful cystic acne. Already feeling sluggish from my steady diet of popcorn and Cheetos, I decided that was the final straw. I needed to clean it up a bit.

I ate some fruit; I ate some veggies; I ate some avocado. I backed away from the Cheetos. When I felt an urge to down some M&Ms after yelling at my kids to cover my remorse, I reached instead for pecans and pistachios and took a few breaths. When the Cheez-Its seemed to be beckoning me from the pantry, instead I ate a small slice of actual cheese and an apple. Bit by bit, I tried to make my diet more based in whole foods. The result? More energy, less sluggishness, fewer headaches.

Tending to my nutritional health has helped me tend to my spiritual health, too. I’ve had to do some consideration about the circumstances that led me to my professed food fog in the first place: that much Cheeto-eating, for me, is usually symptomatic of something deeper. I started with a good night of sleep, which did so much to help smooth over my nerves. I’m also trying to reincorporate meditation into my mornings and lengthen the yoga sessions that have gotten the short shrift since the time change. 

Last night I cooked up some spaghetti squash, broccoli, and tofu. It was delicious and comforting, but not in the escapist way of M&Ms and artificially buttered popcorn. After dinner, I went to the park with my family, typed up this blog post, and joined the kids on the monkey bars. Things are already looking up — and I’ll stay away from the Cheetos for a while to keep it that way!

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