We've all heard the age-old adage, "You are what you eat." Which is very true. However, before you learn what you should eat to keep your mind and body alive and well, we need to start at the very beginning and take the first step to better health: eating regularly.
Practically speaking, if you don't eat, you won't live. If you don't feed your body on a regular basis, you will inevitably eliminate any chance you had to live a full life. Right? It's really as logical and practical as that.
Hunger can turn any high-performing, energized and well-balanced person into a non-focused, foul mood, drooling, and lethargic lump. Hunger has the ultimate control over your ability to function as a fairly well-balanced human being. Being hungry is never a good idea, for you or for the people around you. Take a moment and think about how you feel, physically and mentally, when you are hungry. What words immediately enter your mind? Headache. Angry. Stomach growls. Low energy. Sleepy. No patience. Short tempered. Unable to pay attention. Most people, when hungry, immediately get short tempered and angry. It's called "hangry" -- hungry + angry. It's not a desirable disposition, for you or for anyone in the near vicinity. Being hangry is not a good look on anyone. Your kids get cranky when they are hungry -- as adults we get hangry.
I'd like to share a personal story about my own Jekyll and Hyde tendencies. I like to consider myself a fairly well-balanced healthy individual who, on a fairly regular basis, has a smile on my face, a skip in my step and am pretty enjoyable to be around. Not that I don't have my moments, we all do, but if you were to sum me up in three words, I've heard they would most likely be healthy, happy and free. I attribute my healthy, happy and free living to many things, one of the most important of those being regular access to food.
On occasion, my ability to deliver food to my body on a regular basis is derailed. Whether it's unexpected errands that need immediate attending, a busy day of meetings and deadlines, or husbands who don't have the same eating requirements I do and see nothing wrong with another hour before dinner, life happens to us all. The best laid eating plans can fall apart pretty quickly sometimes leaving us just plain hungry. When that happens, the best recommendation is for those around me to take cover, because it's "Feed the B*tch" time!
"Feed the B*tch" time is an affectionate phrase that my husband coined to describe that point in time where my hunger has taken over my otherwise pleasant demeanor and replaced it with a b*tch. I have never taken offense to this phrase, because it is entirely true.
My stomach feels as if I have swallowed a drill and it's boring a hole straight through my bellybutton from the front of my body to the back. My head feels as if, with just a sneeze, I could potentially blow my brains right out from by eyeballs. I have no patience for anything or anyone. Everyone is annoying me. Ask me a question, and I'll bark back an answer that usually sounds like, "I don't know, I can't process anything at the moment because I am too hungry." I get angry, frustrated, annoyed, and otherwise just plain b*tchy.
All it takes is a few peanuts, maybe some dried fruit, or my new favorite b*tch sweetener snack, applesauce, to melt my monster exterior and reengage my happy persona. Because all my body needs is for me to acknowledge its need for a little energy. Similar to a car that has an empty tank of gas -- it needs just a small amount of petrol to start the engine again. Sure, a full tank of gas or a healthy balanced meal would be the best approach, but we're talking practical implementation here. Just a small snack can make all the difference.
Here are some very easy, inexpensive, healthy, packable, travelable, findable and delicious ideas for quick snacks. Nuts, dried fruits, trail mix, string cheese, organic applesauce cups, pre-cut vegetable sticks, and sunflower seeds. Try to stay away from sugary treats; besides adding unwanted calories, the sugar will also give you an energy burst followed by a headache worse than your hunger headache. You want to find snacks that will give you a slow flow of energy to sustain you until your next meal, not snacks that deliver an extreme energy burst with an extreme energy drain.
You are when you eat as much as you are what you eat. Sustainable high performance delivered with a balanced, pleasant demeanor relies on a regular stream of energy coursing through your body.
Your family and colleagues will appreciate this advice as much as your body.
If you do nothing else...
This weekend, pick up some healthy snacks at the store. Stock your fridge, cupboards and office drawers at home and throw a few in your computer bag for travel or office drawers. The next time you feel yourself headed toward hangry, reach for a snack, and feel the positive energy melt it away.