Nobody likes to think that they aren’t eating a nourishing diet. It kinda feels bad to think that you might be letting yourself down. If challenged, people tend to say that they’re eating pretty well, and that they think they’re making pretty good choices. Completely understandable.
But what if you still can’t figure out why your pants are tight, why your clothes don’t fit the way they used to. What am I doing wrong?, you ask yourself. Sometimes the reason is that granola bar with the fancy name that you eat for breakfast every day. Or the vending machine peanut butter crackers that you can’t stop buying. Or instant maple nut oatmeal. Or diet soda/pop, or that fancy, expensive Starburst coffee drink.
Sometimes, on the other hand, there really isn’t a problem, and you have no idea what the next step should be. If your diet seems like a very nourishing one, with lots of colorful veggies, beans and fruits, plenty of nourishing fats (like olives, avocados, nuts and seeds), and limited sugar, but your clothes are still too tight, then what are you supposed to do next?
Start by looking at the total amount of grain you’re eating on a daily basis. Add up the servings at breakfast (whole grains, of course!), lunch, snacks, dinner, and any other times I missed. You might get a list that looks like this: breakfast cereal, sandwich bread, cookie, pasta, brownie. Or you might come up with oatmeal, whole-grain veggie wrap.
Now, whenever you have grain on your menu, try adopting the mindset of having to earn it. Instead of its landing in your hands effortlessly, think about working for it — with physical activity. Any kind will do, whether a walk, a bike ride, a hike, a swim, working in the garden, taking the dog for a walk, dancing in the living room after breakfast. Doing “yoga” with your five-year-old. In-line skating. Tennis.
In the 1800s, not so long ago, if you wanted a slice of bread you had to do a lot of work for it. You had to sow the grain, harvest the grain, thresh and winnow it. And you weren’t done. Then you had to knead the bread. Hard work, all of it. I am not suggesting that there is anything particularly virtuous about this, or that we should all go back to the olden days. My message is simply to point out that we do not even know what half of these words actually mean anymore. We have removed ourselves from the physical investment. If you wanted grain one hundred years ago, you really had to work for it. In the 21st century, that is no longer the case.
So give it a try. If you want to eat a slice of bread or a piece of pie, try earning it. Figure out how big a serving your activity earns you, and then get to it. Walk to get sushi. Bike to the pizza shop. Play kickball on the front lawn before dinner. Earn your grain, at least some of it, and see how your pants fit.