“Change Comes from Self Love, Not Self Loathing.”
I love this quote and I must say that during my 18 years working as a fitness, health and lifestyle coach, every time a client of mine has made meaningful change it has always been because they have made the shift out of self loathing and to a place of self love. This is authentic health, authentic motivation, and authentic adherence to any program. When you do something because you love yourself and want to do good things to take care of yourself it becomes far more simple and a guaranteed success.
Today I want to talk about a foundation piece in nutrition and eating well….your relationship with food. The reason I developed my mindful eating program, Just Eat, is because I found that I could not help my clients eat more nutritiously until they addressed their relationship with food. It wasn’t so much about what they were eating but more about how and why they were eating and how they felt about food. Mindful eating is the foundation to eating well and often overlooked when someone is trying to make changes with their eating. Fortunately we are hearing more and more about it in the current media. We are seeing more terms like Intuitive Eating, Mindful Eating, Conscious Eating etc. A shift is happening and hopefully the end of dieting will follow.
We tend to think that there is some perfect formula out there and that if we just find it all of the struggle around food will be over. I have found that a small percentage of people simply need nutritional education to make lasting change. This is a small group of people that have never been exposed to good nutritional practices. But let me emphasize that this group is very small. Most people know more about food than you can imagine, but what is getting in there way is their relationship with it. It is much more comfortable to focus on what is going in our body rather than why we have the relationship with food that we have.
Lasting change only comes about with a shift in consciousness. We have to wake up and really look at what we are doing and why we are doing it and then have the courage and strength to make the change. Changing our relationship with food is about looking at why we eat, when we eat, how we eat, how we decide how much to eat, why we chose what we chose to eat, how we feel about food and our body, what rules we have created around eating, what our beliefs are around food, etc. etc. Not looking at these questions would be like going to couples therapy and only talking about who did/said what to who and never addressing what is the real issue. If we only focus on what we eat we are only looking at half of the equation.
When we have a healthy relationship with food we have better digestion, more pleasure from eating, increased energy, joy and happiness, decrease in stress and anxiety, better nutrient absorption, better sleep, better relationships, better focus and concentration… the list goes on and on. And when you combine that will fresh, nutrient dense whole foods it is a recipe for optimal health and wellness.
Here are some signs of a healthy relationship with food:
- You eat because you are physically hungry.
- You don’t ignore or suppress your hunger.
- You stop eating because your body is satisfied rather than stuffed.
- You eat foods that satisfy both your body and your palette.
- You give yourself permission to eat when your body is hungry without judgement or guilt.
- You don’t feel guilty about eating foods that give you pleasure.
- You don’t view foods as good and bad.
- You don’t have rules that regulate your eating.
- You don’t restrict your diet. (unless you have a food allergy, sensitivity or health condition like diabetes)
- You don’t use negative self talk when you eat.
- You are in charge of your eating not in control of your eating.
- You allow yourself all foods and chose which ones you are more moderate with rather than not allowing yourself the things you desire.
- You trust your body and it’s cues to tell you when, what and how much to eat.
- You practice emotional coping skills that don’t involve food.
- You trust yourself with food.
- You learn your bodies language and listen to it for guidance rather than rules from the outside world.
- You understand that each body is unique and special and you seek to find what works best for your own body.
- You feel a sense of freedom with food.
Developing a truly healthy relationship with food is a journey, and a bit of a challenge in our current society, but it is a key part in achieving optimal health, vitality, weight management and overall wellness. Take a minute today to think about where you may need to work on your relationship with food. This will give you a strong foundation that will support a healthy diet and lifelong change.