how what we eat affects everything else - foundational habits

Foundational Habits Part Three: How What We Eat Affects Everything Else

An idea which has always been a bit lost on me is the expression or admonition to “work smarter, not harder.”  Now I know intellectually what is meant, however, I cannot wrap my head around why there is necessarily a dichotomy.   I have long thought that if only I could work both SMARTER and HARDER, then it would only serve to be all more advantageous no matter the endeavor. And in many ways this seems to have been the case (and in others it was my sanity and that of those around me to pay!).  Certainly being strategic about one’s efforts, in addition to being diligent, can really have a positive impact – something which is evident as I consider foundational habits. The reality is that certain patterns of behavior do weigh more heavily that others so if we can work harder on building those habits first and foremost, we are working smarter.  Chief among those foundational habits are sleepexercise, and diet. I personally became a believer after my first Whole30 and when I initially read It Starts With Food but since then I’ve continued to deepen my understanding of and appreciation for how what we eat affects everything else.

In It Starts With Food, Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig (co-creators of the Whole30) explain how “the foods you eat exert a powerful psychological influence, stronger than any act of willpower. They influence your hormones, silently directing your metabolism.  They affect your digestive tract, your body’s first line of defense.  And they impact your immune system and your risk for any number of diseases and conditions.”  As time goes on, research across several disciplines continues to demonstrate the countless ways that we actually are what we eat (or more accurately according to the Nutritional Therapy Association, what we absorb).  Studies have shown that not only does the food we ingest have a dramatic and incalculable impact on virtually every aspect of our physical health, but very often on our psychological, mental, and emotional wellbeing too.  And so although I have known personally that eating in a way that fuels me optimally is a non-negotiable at this stage, when I learned recently of the impact that heart rate variability and overall physical health has on habit formation it became increasing evident to me how what we eat affects everything else.

A perhaps overused metaphor is the one likening our bodies to a vehicle, for which food is the fuel.  Like fancy cars, we do best on premium fuel which includes a variety of nutrient dense options rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Unfortunately, just as those expensive cars can suffer significant damage with inferior fuel, our bodies, the structure and function of our brains and our moods can be negatively impacted when we rely on highly processed or inflammatory foods.  That being said, there is a lot of evidence for bio-individuality (that is -what is premium fuel for you is not necessarily the same for me) which is why I found the Whole30 to particularly helpful in determining the types of foods that I choose to include in my diet on an ongoing basis.  And the many literally life changing stories of those who have been successful with the program clearly illustrate how what we eat affects everything else.  Better skin, less painful joints, and digestion yes, but also many feel happier, better able to manage stress, an increased sense of self-efficacy, a better attention span and memory, and feeling more productive (there’s actually a long list of commonly experienced “non-scale victories” listed here).

And so by request, we will host one more Flex in the City Studio Whole30 group in 2018 which will wrap up just in time for all the Christmas parties!  The official start date will be Monday, 15 October and it will cost 50 euros to join. Even if you are not local to Cork – you can still  participate virtually online and will have access to all the resources, support, and guidance you need to be successful. There will be a free, informational session to provide you with some details to help you decide whether or not you’d like to be a part of the Studio Whole30 on Wednesday, 3 October at 8:00 PM in the Penrose Wharf studio.  After that, there’ll be a preparation and planning session for everyone who’s in on Thursday, 11 October at 8:00 PM in the Penrose studio.  If you are not nearby you can sign up hereand if you are able to make it into the studio – you can sign up here, at the studio before or after class or at the in person meeting.  Even if you can’t make it to the one or either of the meetings, it’s ok – I’ll get you what you need and if you have any questions you can email me at (discounted rate applies for those who have participated in a previous round as well).

Healthy habits, eating well and helping others to see just how much what we eat affects everything else are a few of my greatest passions.  Becoming better informed about what does and doesn’t work for you specifically is exciting and empowering; helping you to work smarter so you can work harder on all your other resolutions, goals, and aspirations.  And when what you eat includes dinners as tasty as this autumn appropriate Whole30 Pumpkin Chili, you may just find eating healthfully is not so hard after all.

how what we eat affects everything else - foundational habits, Whole30 Pumpkin Chili   how what we eat affects everything else - foundational habits, Whole30 Pumpkin Chili

how what we eat affects everything else - foundational habits, Whole30 Pumpkin Chili

Whole30 Pumpkin Chili

Serves: 4-6

  • Ground/Minced Beef 1 lb (400 g)
  • Ghee/Clarified Butter 1 TBSP
  • Medium Green Bell Pepper, Diced 1 each
  • Medium Red Bell Pepper, Diced 1 each
  • Medium Yellow Onion, Diced 1 each
  • Jalapeño/Green Chili, Minced 1 each
  • Pumpkin, Cubed 1" x 1" 2 cups (230 g)
  • Canned/Tinned Chopped Tomatoes 14.5 oz (400 ml)
  • Chili Powder 1 TBSP
  • Cumin 1 TBSP
  • Garlic Powder 1 TSP
  • Onion Powder 1 TSP
  • Bone Broth (or clean chicken, vegetable or beef stock) 2 cups (500 ml)
  1. Wash and dice all vegetables in advance, removing the skin of pumpkin and cutting into 1"x1" cubes. Set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot over medium high heat - add the ground/minced beef, breaking apart and allowing to brown approximately 3-5 minutes and then set aside.
  3. Add the ghee/clarified butter to the pan along with the onions, green and red peppers and jalapeño, stir to combine and sauté for approximately 5 minutes to soften and allow the onions to become translucent.
  4. Add the browed meat and all other ingredients into the stock pot and bring to a light boil.
  5. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot, allowing to cook for about 30 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and top with avocado if you so choose and enjoy! This is one that only gets better a day or two later as a leftover as the flavors continue to meld.


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