Food! How it impacts your energy and decision-making.

Jul 20, 2023
Tom Kha, food's impact on energy and decision making

One person’s medicine is another person’s poison

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to think clearly, command a difficult conversation, or muster up courage after I’ve eaten poorly. And by poorly, I don’t necessarily mean the obvious fast, junk, highly processed and sugar-laden food. I mean foods that many might consider healthy but still have a negative impact on my digestion and ability to feel focused, grounded and energized. 

Of course there are other factors like self-esteem, the amount of sleep we get, and our overall health, but when there’s a shift in energy right after a meal, it benefits us to strongly consider the food we just ate. We often think it’s just that we ate, and that that’s what happens to us, or that an external event during or after the meal is what triggered our maladjustment, without considering what or how we ate. When this connection goes by unnoticed, and we continue with our same food choices, this can have a long term, chronic impact on our general sense of well being. We begin to think that it’s us; that we’re lazy, unproductive, unmotivated, unable to focus, irritable, getting weaker as we age, and on and on. 

What makes it tricky is that what makes you feel good may make me feel bad, and vice-versa. As an example, salads are considered healthy, and it’s a wonderful option for many. Yet so many others aren’t able to digest them.

So rather than over-focusing on if the food you’re eating is considered healthy, because anyway, this can get confusing very fast, it’s important to turn to the highest authority - you - and note how your choices are impacting you. You do this by simply paying attention to your body and how it feels after a meal.


Notice how you feel after you eat anything, and take note.  

Your body will tell you almost immediately after eating whether your choice works for you or not. 

My kids LOVE ramen. When they were in junior high/ high school, they said, “I feel like shit afterwards, but it’s worth it sometimes, it’s so yummy.” So they learned when to enjoy it and when not to, for instance they’d abstain when they needed access to their best cognitive function, like writing a paper, going on interviews, performing, or taking a test. 

I love cappuccinos. I do best with them after lunch, but if I drink them every day, my nervous system will let me know. Similarly, sometimes I can do salads, and sometimes I need to go with cooked vegetables. Different factors come into play that impact my digestion and nervous system.


Here are some additional factors to look out for

What to eat

  • If you have digestive issues, eat cooked foods instead of raw. Do less grazing and consider intermittent fasting (IF) to give your body time to process what you consumed before adding more to it. 
  • If you have trouble focusing, have very dry, itchy skin, or are prone to anxiety, avoid breads, cereals, and granola and add healthy oils to your food. Also, lean into cooked foods. 
  • If you feel lethargic, eat less processed foods, and generally eat less. You might consider reducing intake to two meals a day (intermittent fast). 
  • If you have a tendency to get irritable, get red and blotchy, or break out, reduce spicy or fried foods. 
  • Eat a ton of vegetables with lots of fiber. Chew well. 
  • Have enough fat to keep you satisfied. This will hold you over to the next meal. 
  • Protein: ideally, the fat and protein come together. There are plenty of options for vegetarians. 
  • Drink enough water, but not so much during your meal, especially if you have digestion issues. Too much water, especially iced, dilutes the digestive enzymes in your stomach, and the cold slows down your digestion even more. Instead, while eating, sip on some hot or warm water. Hot water prevents you from gulping it down. Gulping isn’t great for digestion. 

When to eat

  • When you’re hungry. Not emotionally hungry but actually hungry. I know this can be a tough one. You’re brave, you got this. This is what I had to tell myself. 

How to eat

  • Sitting down…  not in front of the computer or behind the wheel. 
  • With gratitude. Seriously. Think of every part of this Universe that took part in getting that food in front of you: sun, rain, earthworms, the workers on the field, the drivers, the store and personnel, the shopper, the cook… 
  • Enjoy what you’re eating. If you can’t enjoy it, have something else. Increased joy = better digestion = better health = better decisions = increased joy. Digestion is a lot about being able to process what you take in, whether it’s food or life. If you can’t process it, you’ll be challenged to digest it, even if it’s technically good for you. It’s worth taking a good look at your general sensitivity in life to see how it correlates with your digestive ups and downs. Hesitancy creates sensitivity. 
  • Know when to indulge and when not to. Pick your battles. 

Food is nourishment and an absolute gift from the gods. It’s very much like sex: pleasurable and necessary for life. And it’s magical when it’s chosen consciously, is fully enjoyed, embraced, and not abused. 


Love, Savitree 


(much like this blog post!)