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food has been on my mind a lot lately. as an aspiring endurance athlete, i need to make sure i am eating the right combinations of foods at the right times. eat too close to a run and you’ll deal with some serious digestive issues. not enough protein and your body begins to break down and can’t repair after a workout. not enough fats and you’ll have no energy to burn.

i am not a “dieter” but i do want to make sure i have a meal plan in place for my needs. there are many options to choose from: paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, plant-based whole foods, high fat, raw, and forget about those fad diets: mediterranean, atkins, weight watchers, and south beach. i certainly don’t believe you have to just choose one, but to eat intuitively.

growing up i ate lots of ramen, dorritos, spaghettio’s, mac and cheese, casseroles, and tv dinners. we went for fast and cheap. and i don’t blame my mom. she worked hard to provide for my brother and i. i truly think diet choice is a generational thing and totally dependent on where society is as a whole. with millennials entering the scene, we are focusing more on what brings us health and happiness (sometimes at the expense of being able to pay the bills). but give them a break, they are trying to save the planet.

as science continues to unveil new data on the best diet choices, we are going back and forth on what we believe is good for us and the environment. without getting into the nitty gritty of the percentage carbohydrates and fats, and the food pyramid (which is a joke), i just want to suggest being more mindful of what people are shoving in their mouths and how it got there in the first place.

if you choose to eat meat, think about what that animal ate, how it was raised, how it was slaughtered, and how it arrived on your plate. meat should have more respect and treated as a medicine. we have quickly become a society where meat is the main course and veggies and/or grains have become an after thought. i bet if you had to go slaughter the animal yourself, you would rethink your dinner plans.

if you like your vegetables dripping in butter, think about a healthier alternative like coconut oil or olive oil. i understand some people don’t like the taste of vegetables, but if you stopped eating so much sugar and processed foods, your taste buds might have a chance to try something new. salt and spices work wonders on vegetables. and don’t forget to appreciate the plant in front of you. this nutritious item was grown from seed, water, soil, and sun. think about how magical that really is.

if you have a sweet tooth, do you have any idea how chocolate is really made? did you know the image in the post is of a cocoa plant? did you know that cocoa farmers make between $1,400-$2,000 profit a year, at most about $5 a day, which will need to support 6-10 dependents. try swapping it for a serving of fruit in the middle of the day. this is your treat. and be mindful of why you are craving sugar. interestingly, it is usually because you are eating the wrong foods.

there are ways around these cravings. google it. give it some thought.

no matter what you choose to eat, think about how it got to you. think about the factory it was manufactured in. or the workers that aren’t getting fair pay to pick and deliver your vegetables. or the shortage of water. or the plastic that will never go away even when you throw it in the trash. or just watch rotten – a docuseries on netflix. warning: you will never want to eat avocados again.

lastly, be thankful. the benefits of blessing your food has been scientifically proven. setting an intention of gratitude on the food you eat has an actual, literal, and measurable effect.