It's no surprise people who adopt a healthy diet often go on to make other positive life changes, especially when it comes to work. Rather than feeling deprived, those who stick with a healthier diet often feel so much better physically they gain the energy to become more discerning in other areas.
There are other entryways. A meditation practice can lead to higher sensitivity around diet; taking a course on time management can lead to prioritizing more effectively; setting a budget can show us what's most important to us. But food is the first step I see many take toward a more conscious life.
The details of the diet are highly individual. In this age of information overload, and industry-sponsored food studies, conflicting information is rampant. Should you go vegan? Or try the paleo diet? You'll find impressive-looking scientific studies championing both, and much anecdotal evidence for the benefits of either.
The upside of this lack of definitive answers is that it encourages us to evolve our own intuition and self-knowledge. The only way to know for sure is to pick something and see how it goes. Only you can decide what's going to work for you--but it's worth trying something.
When we feel sluggish physically, we're really in survival mode. We don't have the energy to do much beyond get through our day. Once our energy reserves are unlocked, however, through a well-functioning body powered by the right diet for us, we have the capacity to do some reflecting.
We now have some practice in rejecting what is on the surface tempting but ultimately takes a toll.
We might start to look around and realize where we aren't valuing our own contributions. Where we are people-pleasing, where we are wasting our time by not consolidating our efforts, where we are losing energy by complaining, and whether we are allowing the people around us to drag us down or lift us up.
It can be a really beneficial practice to eat "clean" for a period of time, whatever that means to you. It's a lesson in discipline and an act of devotion and thanks to your body.
In my observation though, the healthy thing to do after a certain period of heightened awareness is to let a lot of it go. You have your baseline now, you've learned how to respect your body, but you also trust in its strength to heal if you aren't "perfect".
We are here to enjoy life. And while I sometimes cringe when people say that, because it's so often used as an excuse to not take care of one's self at all, there is truth in it. Agility--knowing when you need to stick to the plan and when you need to loosen up--is the real goal.
It's not ultimately about the food. It's about self-honoring and treating yourself as a dignified human being. It's about valuing yourself enough to be choosy, and realizing just because an option is available to you, doesn't mean it's the best thing you can give yourself.