A Healthy Relationship With Food
Notice how this post is called “My Guide To A Healthy Relationship With Food” & not “My Guide To Losing Weight/Healthy Eating/My Diet”? Let that sit for a minute.
First of all, a disclaimer. I’m not a trained professional in any field concerning food, nutrition or exercise. However if you’ve ever had a session with a personal trainer, nutritionist or dietitian, it’s impossible not to think that they’ve probably never been overweight & therefore who are they to talk to you about how you think about food or exercise? Sure they can provide you with the know-how to be healthy & fit, but they can’t really change how you think about food or exercise. That’s up to you.
Now all you’d need to do to see that I’m not a typical size 0 blogger is to scroll down to the latest outfit post. As for my relationship with food, well, it’s not a very good one. So whilst my other “My Guide To” posts have been about topics that I feel are something I know about, this post is going to be more of a promise. It’s a promise to you, my readers, of how I want my relationship with food to be & no, it doesn’t involve massive, crazy amounts of kale.
The fact of the matter is, like most people out there, I like to eat unhealthy or “bad” food. But right there, in that very sentence, is a pretty big problem with my relationship with food. One thing that I feel all of us emotional eaters out there need to do is to stop thinking of foods as “bad” or “wrong” or even “unhealthy” to be honest. How many times have you read an article about the latest superfood only to read a few months later that it wasn’t as “healthy” as everyone made it out to be?
The gluten-free craze is a perfect example. Yes, there are undoubtedly people who have coeliac disease & literally can’t process gluten like other people. But the problem with the rest of us going gluten free as well is that it opens us up to this myth of eating a “healthy” gluten free brownie. Trust me, that thing is chock-full of sugar & potentially has even more sugar/calories/fat than a regular brownie. What’s “healthy” & “unhealthy” now?
This brings me to “Intuitive Eating”. This idea has been around for quite a while & the main gist is that you “tune in” to your body. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full & eat what you feel like eating. Basically stop listening to all of that diet mentality stuff (“Should I have sourdough toast or rye for breakfast? Rye is healthier.” If you want sourdough, have sourdough!) & start listening to what your body is telling you it wants. I’ve just started reading Intuitive Eating & I almost feel like the authors are speaking directly to me! I would recommend it to anyone who is seriously over diets & just wants to live. Live happily without some weird complex with food.
So this is my new plan & oddly enough, it doesn’t actually have much to do with what I’m actually eating. It’s more to do with what I’m thinking.
First of all I’m going to take out of my wardrobe any & all clothes that don’t fit. Now a lot of websites are always going on about your “skinny clothes” & getting rid of them. The fact of the matter is that yes these clothes fit me when I was leaner but I don’t want to throw them out or sell them because they’re too tight now. They’re beautiful clothes & contrary to other weight-loss advice out there, I’m going to keep them. But, instead of keeping them in my closet where I’ll be seeing them every single day & getting disheartened by the fact that I don’t fit into half of my wardrobe, I’m simply going to take them out, fold them neatly & pop them into a plastic bag to keep the dust & moths out. Then I’ll put it on top of my wardrobe. My reasoning behind this? At the end of the day, I do want to lose weight & to be honest, I don’t actually have to lose a huge amount to fit back into those clothes. In my brain, it would be worse for me to have lost the weight & no longer have those clothes than to never lose the weight in the first place. So, I’m keeping them. This may change, but I’m not going to just throw my clothes out on a whim.
Secondly, I’m going to give myself a whole heap of positive self talk. I don’t care what anybody thinks. I’m going to start looking myself in the mirror & saying things like “I’m happy with myself, I have a healthy relationship with food & I’m losing weight because I want to & because I can”. Because the truth of the matter is that I am happy with myself. My weight is just a part of me that I’m not super fond of. But without blowing my own horn too much, I feel I’m intelligent, funny, generous, a good friend, musically talented & creative. So yes, I am happy with myself. Plus the mantra is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Say what you want about things like ‘The Secret’ & visualisation but I have to admit, concentrate hard enough & you’ll get what you want if it’s attainable in the first place (I’m not visualising myself winning an Academy Award here).
Ok, here’s the kicker for the mental pointers: figure out what the real problem is & fix it, or at least address it. We’ve all been right in this spot. We’re stressed about something, be it money, an upcoming event, a fight we’ve had with our friend, mother, workmate. There’s a million problems why we eat something that really isn’t going to do us a whole heap of good in the long run & 9 times out of 10 it’s got nothing to do with that particular food. Sure you might eat cookies when you’re stressed because your mum baked you cookies when you were upset as a kid. But there’s the crux of the matter – you eat them when you’re stressed. Figure out what the real problem is & then take the time to really feel those feelings. Kick that issue in the butt before emotional eating kicks you in the butt. You don’t have to completely solve it but just writing down the problem & coming up with some strategies to cope with it can help majorly in reducing stress.
Now while I’m working on changing my thinking with those above two points, the eating trick I will take from “Intuitive Eating” & all those blog posts out there about weight loss is a simple but relatively effective one. I’m simply going to eat slower & stop when I’m full. Regardless of whether there’s food left on my plate, if I’m full then I’m full. I’m not going to restrict things from my diet, I’m not going to tell myself that I shouldn’t be eating this or that because it’s bad or wrong or unhealthy. Instead, if I’m deviating from my delivered lunches & snacks for a birthday cake or work lunch, I’ll simply order what I feel like eating & stop eating it when I’m feeling full. Not stuffed beyond believe, but just comfortably satiated. One of my closest friends has a pretty darn good relationship with food. In all the time I’ve known her, she’s never gained a huge deal of weight but what she seems to do is just eat what she likes & stops when she’s full. Another one of my friends has this trick to stopping before she’s stuffed – she simply thinks about how horrible she feels when she’s so full she can’t move. Both are seriously smart tricks for not overeating.
The last piece of thinking I’m going to share with you all is my priorities when it comes to things other than eating. But wait, I hear you saying, wasn’t this post about food? Yes I know it’s about food, but a big part of that is also exercise & sleep. Now I personally am not one of those people who can function without sleep. I’m also not really one of those people who can function without regular exercise. I feel sluggish, bloated & the complete opposite of energised when I haven’t worked out in a while & this actually encourages me to eat crappy foods. Therefore I’m going to prioritise both exercise & sleep. How will I do this? Well, I’m not going to work out in the mornings before work. I tried this for a couple weeks & it just doesn’t work. I miss out on valuable sleep hours plus I still don’t have enough time to have a shower, wash my hair & do my makeup. I’m constantly rushing to work on gym days. Extra stress is so unnecessary. The solution? After work gym. It’s much more achievable & easy. I can shower when I get home, I can time my sessions to the ferry & it simply means I miss out on watching the news (which is kind of redundant in this day & age anyway, lets be honest).
So there you have it. I’m making a promise to myself & to you, my readers that this will become my guide to a healthy relationship with food. To recap, I’ll be:
- Taking out all the clothes from my wardrobe that don’t fit (but not throwing them all away entirely, out of sight, out of mind)
- Giving myself a whole heap of positive self talk to make myself a happier more accepting person all round
- Figuring out what the real problem is & fixing it or at least addressing the issue before I turn to food
- Eating what I want to eat (when I deviate from my usual ordered lunches) but for all meals I’ll be eating slower & stopping when I’m full
- Making exercise & sleep a major priority in my life. Food, exercise, sleep, weight loss or gain & happiness levels are all interconnected & I’m going to make sure I’m not scrimping on one to save on the other.
I’d love to know, what are your thoughts on your relationship with food?