I SPENT ALL OF MY TEENAGE YEARS AND MOST OF MY 20'S COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH AND OUT OF CONTROL WITH MY FOOD AND WEIGHT. I WAS A FAD DIETER, OBSESSIVE EXERCISER, OVER EATER, EMOTIONAL EATER AND BINGE EATER. I DID IT ALL!
Looking back it is incredibly clear to me that I had a very negative relationship with food. I reached a point in my mid 20's when I realised that if I didn’t help myself now things would get so much worse.
Over the last few years, since meeting James, I have worked so hard to release myself of any negative feelings I associated with food. To say that I have learned a lot along the way - about myself, my environment and the people around me - is an understatement. I am really excited to share some of what I have learned in the form of habits I believe people who have positive relationships with food have.
In life there are very few absolutes, but a persons relationship with food and their understanding of what this means should be pretty straight forward! If you have rules, control, manipulate, manage, guilt, shame, plan your food or and if you use the word clean, treat, cheat or "it fits" then I am pretty confident you do not have a good relationship with food.
But above all else, if you can not you balance your thoughts about food, exercise and your weight with other parts of your life then you do not have a good relationship with food.
You might think that you do hon, but you are off your fekin rocker!
HABIT 1 - YOU ARE NOT RULED BY RULES
There's a fine line between thinking carefully about what we put into our bodies and obsessing, restricting, counting or making it fit!
For a lot of people who require a “structure” to kick-start a healthy and sustainable eating plan rules can be a good thing. However, most of the time we are being sold complexity over simplicity and unhealthy relationships wrapped up in short-term promises.
Whilst it’s easy to define a healthy diet by the foods that we choose to eat, the real magic lies in how we feel about those foods and ourselves as we eat them. Even starting off with the best intentions of a balanced approach to food we often find ourselves creating more and more rules or getting that little bit stricter in the hopes the results will come faster, and this is where a lot of people get themselves into trouble.
HABIT 2 - YOU DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP
You recognise you have a need for food and a desire to eat certain foods that you enjoy and you feel good about filling that need.
Beating yourself up after eating certain foods, punishing yourself by exercising or depriving yourself at a later stage is unhealthy, both mentally and physically. If things go wrong, and you make a mistake do not use food as a tool to punish yourself. Do not use food to reward good behaviour and do not think that eating a couple of extra biscuits means that you have failed and can justify eating the whole packet.
Don't generalise an entire experience because of one small mistake and remember that your identify and worth is not determined by your diet, mistakes or successes!
By our very nature humans being are fallible - we will make mistakes! When you do make a mistake avoid creating more rules to make up for it and don't blame your failures on a lack of discipline. Ask yourself this question and be honest; Is beating yourself up working for you? How long have you been dieting for and are you happy?
HABIT 3 - YOU INDULGE AND KNOW IT'S OK
To me the word diet suggests fear, restriction and a lot of hard work. But when you have a good relationship with food you can eat certain foods without feeling guilty or ashamed. You understand how you can apply balance and moderation to your life and that you will not become fat after a piece of cake. Food is a massive source of pleasure, fun and celebration and it is OK to enjoy this side of what food has to offer!
HABIT 4 - YOU TRUST YOURSELF WITH FOOD
Do you use your diet as an excuse? Are diets like Paleo, low GI foods, counting macros and calories, avoiding sugar and anything artificial, Intermittent fasting (IF), not eating breakfast or eliminating carbohydrates covering up the abundantly clear fact that you do not trust yourself around food?
If you have convinced yourself that you need rules and diets in order to look, feel and perform at your best then it is time to redirect this energy and hard work into developing trust with yourself. This trust will serve you in the long term by supporting you to create truly transformative change in your life. You can be healthy, fit and strong and still enjoy cake!
HABIT 5 - YOU ARE THANKFUL FOR FOOD
When you have a healthy relationship with food you are thankful for it. You might take food for granted and in certain parts of the world you would be forgiven for doing. However, it is important never to forget that some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth. (Source:State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2015).
HABIT 6 - YOU EAT INTUITIVELY & MINDFULLY
People who have a good relationship with food understand their body and responds to its need without conscious reasoning - intuitively. You eat when you are hungry, when the body silently whispers “its time to fuel up missy, feed me”.
And when you do eat you eat mindfully, aware of the taste, textures an flavours – cherishing and celebrating every bite! I know the temptation to race through your meal or snack can be tempting but wouldn’t you rather check in with your body and actually experience your food?
HABIT 7 - YOU UNDERSTAND THE MULTIPLE ROLES FOOD PLAYS IN YOUR LIFE
What do you expect your food to do for you? Fuel, perform, pleasure, manage weight? Food plays a multitude of roles! However, people who have an unhealthy relationship with food place too much emphasis on just one and as a result miss out on so mich of what food has to offer our lives. Food is designed to enhance our life and how we chose to live it, it should never take away from it.
HABIT 8 - YOU HONOUR YOUR BODY
People who have a good relationship with food understand that certain foods, chemicals, and substances can work against them in all areas of life. A person who honours their body is sure to put into their body things that will make them feel good . They will not use food as a crutch to provide short term pleasure. This is why a person who has a good relationship with food will eat more nutritious, wholesome food then they do bad.
These are just a few of the many habits that a person who has a good relationshop with food have. So let me ask you a question, what role does food play in your life and what habits are you building in order to create a positive and healthy relationship?
I do not want to be remembered as someone who spent more time thinking about food then she did enjoying it nor do I want to be remembered as some one who was constantly at war with her body. How I feel about my body and food will not control my life or how happy I am in anymore.
If you do have a negative and unhealthy relationship with food the problem is not actually food, it's how you think about food. The problem is not your body, it's that we live in a culture that has convinced you your body is broken. The problem is that we are surrounded by self selected experts who think that they are promoting health, fitness and positive relationships but are really just spewing out utter gibberish.
I am enjoying my journey and every effort I relationship to release myself of the negative feelings associated with food any my body. For me the most important piece was understanding that life is a very big picture - If I can not balance my thoughts about food, exercise and my body with other parts of my life then I have a bigger problems then the size of my belly!