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My favorite thing to eat for breakfast when I was in high school was two Eggo waffles buttered up and drenched in maple syrup. That or a sugary sweet bowl of cereal (sometimes two). I’d stuff my mouth quickly and run out the door to school, slipping into my first period desk just as the bell was ringing. And then…I’d struggle HARD for the next 40 minutes to keep my eyes open and not fall asleep.
Looking back now, it’s pretty clear that my not-so-stellar breakfast choices contributed to my morning exhaustion.
The food I was eating was draining me instead of fueling me.
This went on until my early twenties, when I reached a breaking point. I was sick of feeling so tired and run-down and knew it was time to make a change.
First and foremost, I needed to pay better attention to what I was putting in my body.
I learned that food has the potential to affect us in so many positive ways: more energy, better focus in school and work, deeper sleep, stronger immune system, improved moods, and finding your healthy weight set point.
Which leads us to Wellie principle #1: eat for nourishment.
What exactly does this mean?
It’s not about going on a diet, and it doesn’t involve juice cleanses, cutting carbs, or following the latest trendy program; instead, it’s about creating a positive relationship with your food, and choosing foods that will nurture your body. This means filling your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, eggs, and lean meat, poultry and fish.
It also means eating mindfully. By paying attention to how food makes you feel – minutes, hours, and even days later – your mind becomes involved in the process of eating, and the awareness that you develop can set you on a path to making food choices that will leave you feeling better than ever.
Food also represents so many things – family, love, celebration, fun – and it’s something that should bring us pleasure, not stress. There’s no reason why we need to restrict, deprive ourselves, count calories, or cut out entire food groups. We should be able to eat a piece of cake once in awhile and enjoy it!
Changing my eating habits was a process over time, but these days I feel so much better, both physically and mentally, and have a deeper appreciation for the food I put in my body.
What does eating for nourishment mean to you? And what’s one improvement you can start making today?
Meet the Author: Nancy Sidnam, MS, RDN
Nancy is a registered dietitian nutritionist and wellness coach who is dedicated to bringing wellness to today’s generation of girls. She created The Wellie Project with the hope of empowering girls to take charge of their health through a journey of self-discovery. Nancy believes in a total mind, body and soul approach, and she loves experimenting with everything wellness-related. You can usually find her trying new workouts, browsing farmers’ markets, reading inspirational books, and spending time in the great outdoors. Follow her on Instagram at @nancysidnam!
ABOUT THE WELLIE PROJECT
We’re on a mission to spread health and wellness to teen girls everywhere. We believe in nourishing the mind, body and soul through our twelve Wellie Principles. We’re a community of girls who are empowering each other to live the Wellie life. Learn more about our story here, and show everyone how you're taking charge of your health with #welliegirl on Instagram and Twitter!