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This may seem counterintuitive coming from someone who's written 10's of thousands of words on diet optimization, but the reality is: I put very little thought into the foods I eat on a daily basis.
Before you dismiss me as a hypocrite masquerading as a nutrition expert, let me clarify. When I pick up a jar of Cocotella every morning, or drink Synchro Genesis in the afternoon or eat a huge kale salad for dinner, the reality it I've put very little thought into the decision in that moment. Yet, these foods are perfectly aligned with my nutritional theories and are what I believe to be the best foods to be eating at that point in my day. This isn't coincidence, of course. The decision I made to pick up the jar of Cocotella, for example, wasn't a stand-alone, one-time decision. Rather, eating the Cocotella was simply the execution of a daily ritual, thoughtfully and intelligently designed a long time prior.
The execution of consistent daily habits is hardly something unique, it's something we all do. Habits are a coping mechanism of sorts we use to deal with a world insanely over-saturated with choices. There is a difference between habit and ritual, however. Where habits are behaviors that form over time mostly subconsciously/unconsciously - rituals are carefully and strategically designed behavior patterns, implemented to ensure that our actions align with our intentions.
Embracing the idea of ritual and thus, taking agency over the habits we execute on a daily basis is one on the most powerful practices we can employ to radically improve well-being and performance over time.
Freeing Mental Bandwidth
Even as someone who writes about and studies nutrition on a daily basis, evaluating the merit of a given food item can occasionally be overwhelming. There's a ton of factors to be considered: macronutrient ratios, micronutrient density, toxin risk, sourcing, processing, storage, etc, etc. On top of that, it's occasionally just impossible to get some of this information about a food.
Of course, choosing which foods to eat is also often a very emotionally-involved process - often in ways that aren't immediately apparent to us. Combining this emotional component with the intellectual complexity involved in choosing the best food makes the act of choosing which foods to eat potentially very complicated (and time consuming). Even for the best informed and most emotionally sophisticated of us, the odds are stocked against us that we'll choose the food that serves us best every time (or even most of the time).
Creating intentional rituals around your eating removes all of this complexity from the process - and frees up "mental bandwidth" at the same time. When you know what you're going to eat at any given point in the day - and you know that food is completely aligned with how you want to be managing and nurturing your mind-body system - your relationship to food changes radically.
The consistency day-to-day isn't boring as you might expect. Rather, your emotional connection to food becomes one of being nourished and supported - in contrast to the series of cravings and highs that define most people's food relationships.
Another benefit to using rituals to guide eating decisions is that they are easily shared socially. Where in other circumstances making eating decisions socially can often lead to compromising your nutritional priorities, when your rituals are shared by your social circle, eating socially now means reinforcing the ritual.
Among my circle of friends, there's not much discussion needed over food choices if we're getting together for a meal. What are we having for dinner? Kale salad, duh. What else? We all know that kale salads are the meal that best aligns with our nutritional priorities for that point in the day - and we know that most everyone in attendance shares the ritual of nightly kale salads. Eating together becomes a communal celebration of the rituals that we've all designed and put in place to aid our respective personal development. These are easily the meals I enjoy and value the most.
Creating Self-Perpetuating Rituals
A good ritual isn't simply one that aligns perfectly with your nutritional priorities. For a ritual to become anchored in your life, it needs to be easy and enjoyable too. If you're trying to make a ritual of eating some salad that is packed with nutrients but tastes like shit and takes an hour to make...how long is that going to last?
Cocotella, Synchro Genesis and kale salads are all perfectly aligned with my nutritional priorities, but they're also totally delicious and simple to prepare and eat. That's what makes them so easy to incorporate into strong, powerful rituals that will stand up in a world that can often pull us away from the habits we know serve us best.
We Are Our Rituals
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say it is our habits that define who we are. We have the option to let our habits (and thus, our personalities) form subconsciously or unconsciously - or we can take agency and create rituals that align with our visions for our future selves. As I'm nutrition-obsessed myself and this is a nutrition-focused series, food was a natural place to approach the topic of ritual. Ideally, ritual is a tool we use in all areas of our lives.
This is the essence idea behind the name "Synchro Life Design." Given the right tools, we become artists. We design the rituals that mold our body-mind systems over time to reflect the visions we hold for ourselves in the future. So please, embrace your inner "life artist."
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