What do you thrive on?

What do you thrive on?

What makes you feel alive? What kind of diet makes your skin glow, your hair soft and satiates you? What gives you energy to run for hours on end or helps you recover more quickly after an intense workout?

I like the word “thrive.” It implies not merely existing but living with vibrancy. It suggests a life bursting with energy. I thrive on good books, storytelling, exhilarating sports and the love of people close to me.

But here I want to focus on one specific thing: our diets.

I started thinking recently that it seems that there is no one perfect diet. Sure, there is general consensus that we should eat unprocessed food, avoid sugar and chemicals. But within this general consensus, you have vegans and you also have the paleo types. Within the paleo types, there are people who advocate a low-carb, high-fat diet as carbohydrates are unnecessary for our well being. Then there are others who eschew dairy. Then there are people who say that white rice is a safe starch and others who avoid it at all cost. It can all be very confusing.

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Mindful eating – how not to gorge on food

When I first started my paleo lifestyle, I felt liberated. I could eat whatever I want (within the paleo limits) and know that it’s nutritious for my body. So I started gorging on pork belly, which I love, and it wasn’t enough to have just one portion. I needed to eat two or three portions in one seating because they were too delicious. I also ate all the cheese and nuts I wanted and polished off a few ounces of cheese every day.

Sure, it was liberating. But at the same time, I realised I was becoming obsessed with food and thinking constantly about my next meal. I’ve never been like that. Since I was a child, I was always “eating to live” rather than “living to eat.” Food to me was just a way of getting energy into my body. I was never interested in travelling all over Singapore for the best roti prata or trying out a different restaurant each week. I once told my friends, “All food tastes the same to me!”

As well, it was physically uncomfortable to have my belly stuffed all the time. My stomach also looked bloated from too much food. In addition, I was adding unnecessary calories to my diet by eating things that I didn’t like (but was told it was good for me), such as heavy cream and butter in my coffee (a la bulletproof coffee). What happens is that I ended up eating things that do not satiate me because they were things I didn’t like.

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