For years I had a love/ hate relationship with food. I was trapped in a classic binge/ starve cycle, it wasn't healthy and I hated my body for it. I viewed food as 'good' and 'bad', I calorie counted to an extreme and during my teens and early twenties I could often be found skipping off the calories at 1 am because I felt so guilty about what I had eaten that I couldn't sleep and I felt that I needed to 'burn it off'. I thought that I would put on weight from eating a slice of cake or some chocolate. I would hate myself for not having the willpower to not eat something. I would then overeat and hate myself even more. This destructive cycle left me unhappy with myself inside and out, bloated with bad skin and a person who hid herself behind baggy clothes.
Now I was not overweight by any sense of the word but I could not see this. What I saw when I looked in the mirror was completely different to what other people would see. This is what is known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder ~ an anxiety disorder that causes sufferers to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance and have a distorted view of how they look. Through changing my relationship with food I have managed to find peace within myself ~ I am no longer at war with my body. Of course, like everyone, I have good days and bad days but the difference is that now the good days far out weigh the bad days.
So often many of us forget how much of an impact our thought can have on our body and spirit. Negative thoughts can manifest into stress and stress in turn can have a huge impact on your health. By learning to eat mindfully I have changed my life, my health and my confidence.
It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle is something that you have heard me say time and time again. This is because it is what I truly believe in. A diet that is grounded in calorie counting, not eating carbs or not eating fruit is unsustainable and no fun! You should see your food as natural, sustainable, nutrient dense and creative. The best way to stick to anything is to have fun with it. Have fun with food and fall in love with cooking some awesome recipes.
Is your food life-giving or life-draining? Focus on eating nutrient dense foods which your body craves ~ plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole, unprocessed foods. By this I mean whole grains and pulses. If you fancy pasta opt for wholegrain brown pasta, if you fancy some chocolate have a couple of squares of dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. It's all about being mindful as to what you put into your body. Remember ~ Good food makes you feel good! It's just that simple.
Relax with your food. try to avoid eating 'on the go' or in front of the TV. Make time to enjoy the food you have prepared, sit at the table, catch up with your other half. Pause between mouthfuls and enjoy it!
Listen to your body, eat what your body needs. At first this can be hard but take time to think about what your body needs at that time. Are you actually hungry or just in need or a glass of water? Are you wanting to eat for emotional reasons? Stop and make some herbal tea. Of course if you are actually hungry then eat but remember to listen to your body and stop when you are full. Slow down! It takes the body 20 minutes to recognise that you have eaten so remember this and chew your food slowly.
Move away from the diets! The diet industry is a HUGE money making tool which gives us false hope about losing weight quickly and easily. Say goodbye to fad diets, they really do not work. Or we would all be on it and stay on it right? If you are on a weigh loss journey the best way to lose it and keep it off is slowly with a clean diet, mindful eating and exercise. The diet industry is the reason many of us has a complicated relationship with food.
Let go of the food battle in your head. That one slice of chocolate cake will not make you instantly put on 10 pounds, so if you really want it then have it. Stop if you are full and savour the taste! I wholeheartedly believe that moderation is key, just don't beat yourself up about it. Let it go. Often Matt and I will split a slice of cake if we fancy some, no guilt. Food is their to be enjoyed after all!
Incorporate some alkalising foods into your diet. Creating an alkaline environment is crucial for a healthy foundation. Leafy greens and citrus fruits make your body more alkaline and your body functions best when our blood pH levels are slightly alkaline. Your body will love you when you ~ say hello to clear skin, a strong immune system and more energy! Try adding a dash to apple cider vinegar to your morning glass or water or juice!
Learn to let go. Today is always a new day so let go of what you ate yesterday and focus on what you eat today. I was often guilty of punishing myself for something I ate the day before which I viewed as 'bad' this would lead to me feeling down and then making more bad health choices because I felt so bad about myself. It's a terrible vicious cycle to get stuck in. Instead of letting the guilt make you think negatively turn it around into something more positive and powerful such as 'Today is a new day, I love my body and today I am going to make better choices for my health and well being'.