The human body is a wonder in and of itself. It is smart, it is resilient and at all hours of the day and night, it is working to keep us going. I really don’t think we are fully cognizant of how incredible our bodies are, especially when it comes to concepts like dieting.
Western dieting tends to have a lot to do with restriction — it’s a lot of “tricking” the metabolism and “outsmarting” hunger. Many people, myself included, have fallen victim to this idea that our bodies are flawed machines that our consciousness has to outsmart. That if given an inch of caloric leeway, our mindless flesh sack of a body will take a mile and balloon out into the worst versions of ourselves imaginable.
But it’s time to talk about how unrestricted, balanced and healthy eating is actually the best way not only to work toward a physical goal, but also to restore our minds and bodies to the fully capable and healthy levels at which they are supposed to be.
“Restorative eating” is a term that essentially has to do with purposefully consuming certain foods with the intention of healing the body. This idea has been mostly implemented in the sense that it targets nutrient depletion that directly relates to certain health complications. An example of this would be purposefully eating antioxidant-rich foods like berries, garlic and green tea for inflammation or a low-sugar, high-fiber diet for digestive issues.
For a college kid who’s doomed to eat cafeteria food, restorative eating can look a lot different. The idea of restorative eating doesn’t have to be a new lifestyle upheaval that involves meal prepping, doctor consultations and expensive dietary planning. It can, but it doesn’t have to.
It can be as simple as consciously consuming foods that make your body feel good. Omega 3 fatty acids in fish, as well as probiotics, are known mood boosters. The carbohydrates, manganese and Vitamin A in sweet potatoes are linked to energy boosts. And the amino acid tryptophan found in poultry is a known calmer, as well as an aid in serotonin production.
While eating well or even full-blown restorative eating cannot replace a licensed professional or prescribed medication, it can absolutely be something in a person’s life that helps them be a better version of themselves. It can be a lifeline, a manifesto or even, in light of the season, a lighthearted resolution.
Actual self-care that involves taking care of oneself and not just buying a cheap face mask helped me turn the tide of a destructive eating disorder, severe paranoia and insomnia. I was a scared and angry kid who couldn’t afford any other remedy. The avoidance of certain foods like processed sugars and grease, and maintaining a well-balanced, nutritional diet gave me the ability to control my mind and body.
Now in college, I continue that lifestyle. I never see myself giving it up. While I am not perfect and I will indulge in something less than nutritious more than I care to admit, I will hop back on track with some hummus and coconut milk in tow and tread to the gym. Because I know in the long run it is what saved me and what made me feel normal, it will always be my saving grace. The beauty of it is that it is easy for anyone, even a dining-hall-dependent college kid, to pick up.