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Author: Brendan L

How We Eat versus What We Eat

by Jonathan “Quiggy” Quigg

            So this is going to be my last little blurb for Tropicana, and I want to leave you with a final message that has hopefully permeated all that I’ve shared: How we eat is just as important than what we eat. Our relationship with food, our mindset, is where it all starts. Our enjoyment, our intentions, how food makes us feel, how full we are willing to get. All of these factors create a connection with food that can feel nourishing and energizing on one end of the spectrum, forced and unpleasant on the other, or somewhere in between.

            My hope was to start drawing attention to where your relationship with food currently stands. This comes from how we were raised and our experiences, and unless we bring awareness to it, tends to fly under the radar, running the show unconsciously. You may have noticed some habits that are really in line with the healthiest version of yourself, and some that don’t make you feel so good. There is no right or wrong relationship with food. Only yours, and how you chose to grow it. But we cannot make conscious choices to feel better unless we are aware of our current mindset. Awareness breeds autonomy. Autonomy to appreciate what we’ve got already and grow where there is room for more health and happiness.

            So, I hope that some of the ideas and reflections here have presented you an opportunity to get to know your relationship with food a little better, and that its given you some room to make small adjustments where you could bring a little more joy into the cafeteria.

It is absolutely a journey; there is no end destination. There is no PERFECT relationship with food or definition of healthy that you can get to, so don’t even bother striving for that because you will never feel satisfied. Rather, appreciate making small changes to improve the quality of your food mindset and you’ll improve the quality of your life overall while you are at it. We do a lot of eating as humans and it affects all areas of our lives, so why not make it a priority worth appreciating?

Thank you for listening and all the best to you, my friends!

Coffee and Sleep

By Jonathan “Quiggy” Quigg

            This week I want to bring attention to our coffee drinking habits. First of all, damn, coffee is good! So tasty and wonderful to feel that boost of energy. But how much, how often and when we drink it can have a serious impact on our sleep – something we all need yet can fall to the wayside when a lot is on our plate – or our blood is 98% caffeine.

            Caffeine blocks the release of natural chemicals that makes us feel sleepy. When that effect wears off, and our sleepy chemicals return in high quantities, we feel a crash. So, even though we may be able to crash and fall asleep after some late night sips of coffee, the caffeine remaining in our system is actually disruptive to our deep sleep. And it’s in our deep sleep that our body and mind really rejuvenate and recover. So, though our caffeine habits might seem like they don’t effect our sleep because we can fall asleep okay, they can have a serious impact on the quality of our sleep. To put it in perspective, 6 hours of good, deep sleep is going to be better than 9 hours of disrupted, caffeinated “shallow” sleep. You will wake up feeling a lot more rested, energized and ready for the day, when you get good quality, deep sleep. This doesn’t happen when we are drinking coffee late in the day.

            Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours, meaning that the amount of it left in your system is halved every 6 hours. So if you are drinking coffee at 6pm, you still have half of that caffeine content in your body at Midnight. That’s a lot and one needs to consider the effect that may have on your sleep and your next day.

I know that it can become a vicious cycle, and one that’s hard to break out of. We need coffee to feel awake then sleep poorly and wake up needing it again to get by. But by recognizing what’s happening, there are some small adjustments we can make to get better rest.

  1. Replace with tea. Especially in the afternoon. Black tea has a fair amount of caffeine in it still and green tea might be enough on its own to give you the boost you need too.
  2. Try to set a cut off for coffee drinking time. I don’t drink after 12pm (which means ¼ of the caffeine in that cup of coffee is still in my system at Midnight when I go to sleep) – but you have to choose what is reasonable and doable for you.
  3. Limit the number of cups a day. You have to start by KNOWING how many you drink a day. If you don’t you have to start by counting. Even the act of counting can bring enough awareness to chill out a bit. From there, try drinking one less cup a day to start small.
  4. Replace some of your coffee habit with decaf. Coffee tastes good! Sometimes enjoying the taste, or the ritual, is a big part of what’s drawing us in. So this way we can still enjoy it without the negative effect on our sleep. And you may even still get a bit of a placebo effect and boost from the decaf version.
  5. Try something else to reenergize. Coffee isn’t the only way to recoup and get a boost. Go for a walk. Do some exercise. Lie down and listen to some music. Power nap. Have a dance party. Meditate. There are many natural ways to reenergize ourselves that don’t involve caffeine. If you can replace one cup of coffee a day with an alternative like this, you might notice a huge difference.

Though our relationship with coffee cannot change overnight, the hope here is to inspire an honest reflection of your habits and encouragement to start making some small adjustments in the direction of healthier habits. Your sleep will thank you.

Where Did My Food Come From?

By Jonathan “Quiggy” Quigg

Bringing mindfulness into our mealtime can increase our appreciation for food, how much we enjoy our meal, how satisfied we feel after and even how good the food tastes while we are eating it.

One simple game we can play is to ask the question: “Where did my food come from?” You can either discuss the answer out loud, in your head or take a moment to visualize before you take your first bite, or while you are chowing down.

Go back to the source. Think of all the people that worked to get that food to your plate. The farmers who grew the crops or raised the animals. Imagine the early, long days it took to grow a seed into a full-fledged plant, fruit, vegetable, grain, etc. It didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. Maybe the oil was made in a factory with big machines that pressed ingredients into cook-able form. How were all the ingredients transported? Who drove the trucks, boats, planes? Who worked in the kitchen to prepare the meal and turn raw ingredients into the delicious meal sitting in front of you? Use your imagination! Be curious about how your food got onto your plate, because it didn’t just magically appear (and if it did – how?!).

When we connect with the journey our food took to get to us, and appreciate the humans (and animals) who worked hard to prepare it for us, we bring a sense of gratitude into our relationship with food that is energizing. We can feel good before we even take our first bite. And each one will taste a little better as a result.

Gratitude with Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Mealtime is a great opportunity to practice gratitude. Not just for yourself, but as a way to build community and connect with those you share your food with. When we share gratitude with one another, it brings us closer together. We begin to understand what makes each other feel joy and appreciation. And we can create and share those feelings. Its good vibes all around!

I always use dinnertime as a chance to pause and reflect on what I’m grateful for, whether I’m alone, with my family or with friends. I typically ask: “what three things are you most grateful for in your life right now?” What brings your joy? What is going well in your life? What is there to celebrate? What makes you feel lucky or fortunate? Can you be appreciative for this meal? To be fed and have consistent access to good, nourishing food? To not have to worry about going hungry?

While we often have SO MUCH to be grateful for in our lives, how often do we actively reflect on and pay attention to that feeling? Appreciation can fall to the wayside, but we can conjure it back up with a simple reflection like this. It only takes a few moments to incorporate gratitude into your day, and mealtime is a great checkpoint to try it out. Chances are it will bring you closer to those around you, brighten your day, if only a little bit (and maybe A LOT A BIT), and will at least make your meal more enjoyable.

The Hunger Fullness Scale

The Hunger-Fullness Scale

Written by Jonathan “Quiggy” Quigg

Its really easy, in our busy day and age, to just gobble, zone out or multi-task when we are eating. This leaves us disconnected from our bodies and unaware of what our biological signals may be trying to tell us. Intuitive eating is an approach designed to reconnect us with our bodies, based on the premise that all the sensors we need to navigate our nutritional choices are built within. We just need to learn to pay attention to and use them again. Many of us do this, well, intuitively. But paying more explicit attention to our biological signals can create a happier relationship with food that energizes us. And more energy = smarter study and better play.

One of the great tools of Intuitive Eating is the hunger-fullness scale. Often, we eat just because its meal time, because we are bored or stressed, or because we THINK we are hungry – even when we are really not. The hunger-fullness scale helps us connect with our ACTUAL hunger levels, by feeling into the sensations in our body and giving it a rating on a scale of 1-10.

If I were to describe the scale for myself (and its subjective, so your ratings will have their own meanings unique to you) for your reference:

1 – VERY, VERY hungry – Energy level is LOW. Irritable. HANGRY.

2 – REALLY hungry – hunger pangs, tummy is really speaking to me here.

3 – hungry – hunger pangs starting to happen.

4 – “eh I could probably eat”

5 is neutral

6 –starting to feel my stomach expand

7 – comfortably full

8 – more full than I’d like to be. Baby belly poking out here.

9 – Wayyy too full. Uncomfortable. Lethargic.

10- Thanksgiving day

I suggest taking a moment to check in and rank your hunger level BEFORE you get food. That way you know how much to ask for. Once its on our plate, our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. But if we are already taking in information from our body, we can make decisions more in tune with our actual hunger level.

Check in periodically during your meal and at the end to see how full you get. Mostly, we want to stay in between 3-7 on the scale, never getting too hungry or too full. This will keep us optimally fueled, comfortable and ready for activities!

Love the Whole Foods that Love You Back

By Jonathan “Quiggy” Quigg

This is one of the better mantras I’ve picked up over years working with health and wellness programs. If we are talking about making food choices that are good for our body, make us feel satisfied and energized, and digest naturally, whole foods are where its at. What is a whole food? Its anything that comes naturally from the earth and is unprocessed. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat, fish and eggs are all examples of whole foods, at their core. The way they are cooked can affect the level of processing, but in general these types of foods offer us all the nutrients that our bodies need to survive and thrive. A diet centered around these types of food is likely to make you feel pretty good.

On the other hand, processed foods are those that have been broken down or manipulated. Even if derived from a whole food, in this process, much of the value a whole food brings to our body is lost. In come addicting taste profiles and calorie density, without the accompanying nutritional quality and fullness (the fiber content of a whole food, which makes us feel satisfied longer, tends to get stripped by processing). Processed foods will light up the reward centers in our brains, but are more likely to have a neutral or negative impact on our body, because our body has to digest a bunch of chemical gunk it wasn’t designed to take in.

That’s not to say that one is good and the other is bad, or that you should never have processed snacks. The encouragement here is to find and focus on loving those whole foods that love you back. My favorites are bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, peanuts (and peanut butter made just with peanuts), salmon and dark (I’m talking 95% dark here, for me personally – which means there is almost no sugar) chocolate. Without human interference, these whole foods pack a nutritious punch that the body can digest easily, and they are tasty AF. So, they feel good to eat. They love you back, in taste and energy.

What whole foods do you love most? How does you feel when you eat those? How do you feel when you eat processed/fried food?

PS I DO NOT work for Whole Foods… nor am I promoting them =)