Health. It's not what you put in your mouth; it's not about calorie counting, and it's certainly not a number on a scale. Being healthy and achieving a feeling of health is so much broader than that.
Achieving a true state of health means being connected, slowing down, and appreciating (and savouring) the small things. Here are some rules to live by on your quest to a higher level of health:
1. Ditch the packaged food and eat according to the season
Eat foods closest to their natural source. This means no frozen meals, no canned fruit, and no microwave popcorn.
Eat from the rainbow and choose fresh, seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, seafood and organic, grass-fed meat (if you're a meat eater). Locally grown is best; local and organic is preferred.
2. Cook from scratch
Even the worst cooks among us can still follow a recipe. Food cooked yourself has a different energy to it. It is made with love and with positive intentions. It is void of the added oils, salts and sugars found in restaurant meals. Not many things beat a home-cooked meal made with seasonal produce.
Can't cook? Start small. Make a pasta sauce from scratch instead of using a bottled one. Pick one new small recipe per week to try.
3. Eat your meals with others, not alone
This is increasingly difficult in a world where we dine on the go or at our desks. Make meal times a priority and sit down to eat with friends and family. Not only will this make you eat less (who wants to binge when they're with friends?!) but you will slow down your eating, meaning you can truly appreciate the tastes. Remember this when dining out - make the meal about the company you keep, not the food itself.
4. Eat slowly and with purpose
Following on from the above, there is no need to wolf down every meal. Know that food is abundant, and that you are never too far from your next meal. Make every bite count, and your eating experience will instantly elevate.
5. Tune into your body
The body is an amazingly intelligent being. Stop muting the messages it is trying to give you. Don't fall prey to the trap of eating "what you should eat", when what you really need is something entirely different.
I have learnt this lesson very well recently while unwell. Instead of forcing myself to eat salads (my brain trying to tell me what I should be eating), I listened to what my stomach could truly tolerate, which in most cases was rice, crackers and a little bit of pasta - foods I usually don't eat. The result? A happy tummy, and a happier me.
Health starts with you, not your best friend, your personal trainer or your diet books. Each day, make the decision that is right for your body, at that time. Learning to connect with yourself on this level is the cornerstone to a healthier life. So start today.