If you follow me on Instagram (@brittanyalexaburns) then you know that I follow a pretty basic Paleo template, made PaleYOU {Thanks to Mary Shenouda, @paleochef, for that gem} because we are all so unique that different foods will work and not work for different people. 

In the Paleo world, the Whole30 program is extremely popular in helping people with their transition to a real food way of life. However, more often than not, I see people who don't actually understand the purpose of the program using it for a "cleanse" or a "diet" or a "30 day challenge" which is so opposite to the actual intention that Melissa Hartwig had when she created the program. 

Today's podcast walk was with Melissa Hartwig, being interviewed by Josh Trent on Wellness Force Radio. First of all, I *love* Melissa Hartwig. Her personality and her sense of humor are so fun and refreshing, and her passion and the hurdles she's managed to overcome in her own life, as well as the standard of authenticity that she holds herself to in her daily life, are all such admirable qualities.

The real intention of the Whole30 program is as a nutritional reset that will allow you to discover your personal emotional relationship with food. So many people view food as punishment or reward - I worked out today so I can eat this because *I deserve it*, or I didn't work out today so no carbs for me. Celebrating? Let's eat! Bummed out about something? Let's eat!

Don't get me wrong - I've been there and still deal with plenty of emotions around food. I have worked hard though to become much more mindful of these situations throughout my journey and now have the forethought to take a step back before eating something that I'm craving to really dissect the reason I'm craving it or choosing to eat it. 

It's incredibly important to me that you understand that eating a food should have absolutely nothing to do with your movement that day. We can talk about fat loss goals another day (because there are things to keep in mind in terms of nutrient timing and food choices and movement if fat loss is your goal) but today, let's just focus on having a healthy relationship with food. So - we do not relate food choices to exercise. We can eat a food because we want to eat it, and when we are choosing real, whole foods, that choice is often much less difficult to make or justify. 

Food doesn't just represent sustenance or nutrition though - it also represents emotion. We eat to be social, and when you are making certain food choices that are different from those of your friends, it can be really easy to feel left out and question why you "can't" eat the same way as they do. Here's the thing that you really need to remember - your goals are not their goals - your body is not their body - your metabolisms are not the same - your genetics are not the same - and your hormones are not the same. Is life really so unfair? Maybe. I would *love* to be able to eat some of the foods my husband can eat with zero digestive issues and very minimal body change. But as soon as you begin to love what is {read Loving What Is by Byron Katie!} and focus on being your best self, you will realize that your food choices are your choices. What other people eat is irrelevant to what you eat. And I find the best way to process my feelings of envy is to say out loud, genuinely, "Wow that looks incredible" and "That is the most beautiful meal" and "Your food looks delicious I hope you enjoy it." By speaking my truth and not keeping those feelings in I feel more capable of moving past the frustrating situation and it becomes far less frustrating. Lastly - remind yourself that you *can* actually eat whatever you want to put in your mouth, but you are *choosing* not to. When you make it a choice and not a prison sentence you take back your power. 

There are a gazillion reasons why we might choose not to eat something. My (unaesthetic) reasons for eating what I eat are pretty simple: Does my stomach feel good after I eat it? Is my skin clear? How is my energy and hunger throughout the day because of what I ate? How is my sleep? Am I enjoying the food while I am eating it? And, does the food I choose to eat satisfy me so that I do not crave other foods later?

Satiety and satiation are two different feelings around eating that are often confused. Satiety is physiological - when your body senses that it has had enough nutrients and variety for survival because the food comes from nature, you feel satiety. Things like fiber, protein, water, and fat increase the feeling of satiety in your body. Satiation, on the other hand, is the feeling of physical fullness related to hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin which send signals from the gut to the brain.

The biggest reason that eating "real food" over processed food can help you to be more successful in maintaining a healthy body composition and eliminating annoying cravings is because processed foods are made by food scientists. Food scientists do this tricky thing to make food stimulate taste buds - they actually add chemicals to the food that light up the reward centers in a person's brain in a way that real food doesn't, causing our brains to react to the processed food in a different way than nature intended. We don't eat processed foods because they provide vital nutrition, but because they stimulate our taste buds, and this is a huge problem when it comes to satiety and satiation because it causes people to just keep eating the crappy processed food.

One of my favorite phrases from Melissa Hartwig is "food with no brakes." Foods with no brakes are foods that make you feel out of control - once you start eating them, you just can't stop. And I realized a long time ago that, for me, these foods are things like {non-GMO} popcorn, cereal (even "Paleo" cereal - what the hell is a portion size of cereal?!), and Coconut Bliss ice cream. The cool thing is though that even though I've identified these foods as foods I have trouble eating moderately, I don't have to stop eating them. Nope! Instead, I bring even more mindfulness to the table when these foods are in front of me. I make an effort not to eat them if I'm on the phone, watching TV, or in a social situation that will distract me from realizing how much I'm taking in. Because *for me*, even though these are not incredibly unhealthy foods, I struggle to feel satiety or satiation if I'm not being mindful. Because of this, I also know NOT to choose these foods in an emotional state. I eat ice cream on a Wednesday night because it sounds delicious, not because I just got great news, and I eat popcorn with my lunch on a Friday, not because it's the weekend and not at the movie theater zoning out to an intense movie, but because I thought it sounded delicious and it's my source of carbs for that meal. Am I making any sense? 

I am clearly passionate about nutrition, so I'll start to wrap this up before it becomes a novel.

For any person who wants to make a change in their nutrition, I like to look at the Stages of Change Model - there are a couple of different levels. Until you begin to take action you are in the Precontemplation Stage. You are thinking about making a change. You are *almost* ready to really think about making the change in that first level, as you then move into Contemplation and then Preparation. The real magic starts to happen in the Action level. You are ready for change and you are making that change by taking action. You are learning all you can about this thing you want to change and you are actively making choices in your daily life to do things differently. In the final stage you are in Maintenance mode. Not only are you able to to take action, but you are using self analysis to consciously track your actions and you are making an effort to apply what you have learned to other areas of your life. Notice: you can think about making a change all you want, but the change will not happen until you take action. 

When it comes to nutrition, there is no such thing as failure. Your goal is not perfection. In fact - the more "mistakes" you make, the more opportunities you will have to learn from them {if you allow yourself the mindful space to do so}. When you are healthy and happy you will have more to give to everybody else. Aim to get out of the space of thinking and just DO. Action is required to make change. Like Dan Pardi says, "Knowing without doing is the same thing as not knowing."