Un-complicating our relationship with food
Diet. Ugh. Most of us shudder at the word. The mental battle of exercising willpower makes ‘dieting’ tiresome and time-consuming.
But deprivation is last century, people.
Feeling guilty over that extra few blocks of chocolate is not going to help anyone. One could argue that the negative emotions aimed squarely at yourself can do you more harm than the food itself!
What if instead we treated the food we eat with a focus of inclusion (as opposed to exclusion) and positive mindset?
Eating healthy. Like, actually healthy.
Healthy choices are not reserved for food and exercise. They include our emotions and thought processes.
By giving yourself a ‘gift’ of food, you are framing an attitude that you are worth taking care of. And you are!
As opposed to having an explicit list of haves and have nots, when you consider your next meal, ask yourself ‘will this nurture and nourish me’?
Real, whole food is full of nutrients just aching to help you thrive. So consider foods from a nutrient dense perspective, and scrap the calorie counting. For many, analyzing the numbers going down your gullet is their primary relationship with food. And then there are the emotional eaters.
Oh, we all love a comfort food. Driven by habit, boredom, sadness, loneliness or some other emotional force, we reach for a big, warm, often deep fried or carb-o-loaded hug, leaving us in a state of mild sedation.
But what if we took comfort in the giving ourselves food that will help our body, nourishing it with whole foods.
Food has the power to heal or harm, as does our attitude toward it.
What we are not saying is ‘go forth and eat the entire bag of crisps’, so long as you love yourself doing it! We would rather you chose a food that nourished your body alongside that choice to nourish your soul with the positive outlook.
It is a two way street with food and emotional wellbeing. You eat crap, and you will feel crap. You feel crap, and you tend to eat crap. But guess what? We can ALL exercise the right to choose. Choose a nourishing whole food, and you will generally feel better for it.
However, sometimes only cake will cut it. Just make sure these sugar-laden or heavily processed ‘discretionary’ foods are eaten only sometimes. And leave the guilt behind! Enjoy the moment in which you are eating it.
Finding simplicity in the complexity
Nutrition and health are complex. The human psyche is complex. So to guide food and attitude choice, consider mostly eating food that is not pre-made or packaged, do not feel guilty when you consume something you feel you shouldn’t, and make food choices based on general health rather than a strict diet guideline (provided you are not working with a healthcare professional on something specific).
Ditch the diet. Just eat real food. Choose to nourish not punish. Embrace the holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle, which begins with loving yourself and making the positive choice emotionally.
By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut Med)