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You Really Are What You Eat
Key "getting to know yourself" questions that can help you determine the link between food and core values.


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Having a balanced diet will help you reach a balanced life.


Balanced people tend to eat balanced meals, organizing their day around good health.”
Food can bring people together making them feel either welcome or alienated. If you want to know what someone is really like, share a meal together. Many are able to hide behind carefully chosen words or rehearsed facial gestures, but the proverb, you are what you eat, expresses a basic truth about human nature.

First, food choices contain the ingredients of core values—soul food. Second, food and mood correlate highly. Third, changing what you eat can transform habits in other activities of daily living. Therefore if you are trying to improve your marriage and all the verbiage is not working, try changing the menu!

For example, if your spouse drinks coffee throughout the day, this person is jolting energy levels beyond normal capacity as circuits are overloaded with an ever-increasing to-do list—a state of "chronic fatigue" to override. Also, caffeine elevates one’s mood fueling these accomplishments. Reducing caffeine intake would align energy levels to reality. This person would have to shed a task or two from the to-do list to stabilize work/life balance. One would become habituated to the good energy of rest and fun and might start accomplishing for the self—no longer last on the list. I do for me equals I do for us.

Simply put: Balanced people tend to eat balanced meals, organizing their day around good health. Currently, medical research points to the superior qualities of a Mediterranean diet for those eager to go the distance in life physically (heart smart and brain smart) and emotionally with a sunny disposition.

There are great clues mixed into food—from yearning to dislike. Many of us might flatter falsely, nag, or go the opposite route and suppress the self, but eating is a whole other story where we just spill the beans.

Here are some "getting to really know you questions" to help you observe the link between food and core value. Also, you might look at these questions to help you introspect about your own life to take a personal inventory and change for a better balance:

* Craving carbs to boost mood quickly? Feeling stressed? What is the root cause? Note the pattern of the big picture: Time, frequency, and triggers.

* Delighting in a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables? One might be colorful and natural, likely to reveal the authentic self.

* Preference: Fish (brain food) or red meat (strength)?

* Rigid about healthy eating? One might have Orthorexia nervosa—an obsession with healthy food choices. Inflexibility in one area transfers to other issues.

* Spicy or bland foods? Open to exotic foods or intensely loyal to family/national origins?

* Likely to share a yummy dessert with a honey or guard it? Generous or stingy with feelings?

* Eat the same foods daily or get bored and need frequent change? Constantly reinventing or in the same job or lifestyle?

* Coffee or tea? Type A or actively calm?

* Alternating between binges and strict diets: all or nothing? Impulsive and seeking immediate gratification/fast results, whether it is self-soothing or weight loss?

* Eating fast foods: the drive-thru life? Or dining and savoring food even when eating alone?

* Favorite meal: breakfast or dinner? Lark or owl when it concerns energy levels?

* Discriminating at restaurants? Sending food back or making do with what is served? People pleaser or critic?

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-reduction specialist, a radio show host and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.


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