Food, it's something we need to sustain life yet it's something most of us spend so much time critiquing, judging, limiting, portioning, craving, bingeing and restricting. We blame food for our extra stubborn weight, so we start the ever so popular diet dance. We start to drink so much water that we are running to the washroom every 5 minutes, we live off of a cabbage soup concoction, drink some lemon/cayenne mixture, cut out carbs, fat and sugar; we need easy, fast results. So, we go through our cupboards and throw out all that bad stuff, start to meal prep like crazy, follow some really fit people on Instagram and buy a gym membership. We GOT this! In the beginning it feels amazing we are on a diet, we took control and we are going to fix our problem. We start to feel so healthy, less bloated, lighter and more energized. Then day six rolls around, we sit on the couch and can literally hear the chips (that one bag we didn't throw out) in the cupboard call our name. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g -calls our name, except for the food on our diet plan! We question if it's worth it, if losing weight is really worth this torture. We crave pizza, cookies and we are sick of being constantly hangry. We suffer, we inflict harmful thoughts onto ourselves, we restrict and judge. Until it all becomes too much and we cave, we give in, we eat the pizza and feel like a failure. We may have lost a few pounds but they quickly come back once we eat like we did before and we are back to where we started; unsatisfied by our body and feeling stuck.
Sound familiar? Do you resonate with this dance? I certainly do! I've been there in that cycle too and it's not fun. I have personally spent countless hours searching google for "the best diet", the quickest weight loss solutions, I've attempted to sustain my life on lemon/cayenne mixtures, I've been my own victim of self inflicted body shaming and have had an unhealthy relationship with food for many years of my life. To give you some context I weighed about 50 lbs more in my early to mid teens than I do now. After trying many unsuccessful quick fix solutions, yearning for that "skinny feeling", going up and down in weight throughout my teens and twenties and getting tired of listening to my destructive thoughts I decided to shift my perspective, change my narrative and get real with myself. I also took chances, listened to myself, and went back to school to study natural nutrition. Now, I want to teach you a new ways of looking at things.
I need you to ditch the word diet, diets are not sustainable. Diets do not promote healthy habits and they really harm our relationship with food. I want you to let go of the need to lose weight, to look a certain way and stop the body-shaming; because guess what - you right here right now are incredible, you don't need to look a certain way and please know that you are enough (repeat it and absorb it). It isn't easy, I get it- trust me! The first step is to just do it and believe it. Be an active loving participant in the way you see yourself. You need to change your narrative. I want you to learn the language that your body speaks. I want you to believe that you are more powerful than you’ve ever imagined in designing this thing you call your weight problem. You have nothing to lose except your suffering. Every last bit of it. You need to trust your body, it's incredibly smart and intuitive. You know when you feel hungry and you know when you feel full, you don't need a diet plan to tell you when you should eat. You know what makes you feel your best and what makes you feel not so great. You know this stuff, you really do. Trust that. Instead of limiting, restricting, judging or bingeing, you need to follow your natural intuition when it comes to food. You need to slow down, listen and understand why you want to eat certain foods. Your relationship with food is telling you something, it serves a purpose and once you understand that you gain better control of your habits.
You must re-shape your relationship with food. This is a tough one. We are bombarded with constant advertising, the food industry wants to make money and it knows how to target our desire for salt, harmful fat and sugar. When something says it's healthy, more often than not, it isn't - It's all marketing. You need to be smarter, be aware of your choices and why you are choosing them. Think of food as fuel, it's information. What kind of information do you want to give your body? It's your choice and yours alone, so choose what is best for YOU. Really sit with the food you choose to nourish yourself with. Take a bite, see how you feel, do you really love it? I really only want you eating the foods that you absolutely love and make you feel amazing from the inside out. Understand that healthy doesn't necessarily equate to skinny. The nutrition connection is one we often forget when we think about weight loss. Learning to eat a healthy whole food diet, one small sustainable step at a time is not only going to teach you healthy habits, self love and acceptance but it's going to put you in a place of eating to sustain and nourish your life rather than just eating to lose weight or to look a certain way. Many diets have one goal, and that is to help you get thinner. They play into your insecurity and capitalize on your discontent. Deciding to fuel your body with foods that make you feel amazing, for your health, is a mental shift that will change the way you look at food. Guess what, you don't need a diet plan, you don't need to count calories and you don't need to restrict yourself when you start to look at food this way. The story in your head will shift from "I need to lose weight, I need to find a diet to help me lose weight, I need to fix myself so I can feel better, weight less and look better" to "I accept where I am right now, I love and trust myself and I am actively deciding to fuel my body with foods that make me feel my best for my health and that support my well-being." You won't always be perfect and that is a-okay, it's about learning to feed yourself in the most loving way possible and sometimes that means eating a slice of cake! ;) Change your narrative. Food isn't good and it isn't bad, it's just food. When we label it we create guilt, shame and harmful thoughts because in turn we feel horrible for eating something "bad". We also make the food more desirable if it's something we can only have under certain conditions. Stressing out about food does harm to the body, stress affects how we digest food. If you are eating pizza and the whole time you feel horrible, shameful and stressed, the body reacts negatively. So, If pizza is what you want for dinner, that is okay - enjoy it, really enjoy it. Know that you are making the choice because you want to eat the pizza, take your power back and trust that you know what is best for you, in that moment. Realize that you are in control of your health. That's right, no one else. You are the only human that knows how your body feels. Listen to your body and understand what it is trying to tell you. Be aware of how certain foods make you feel. Do you have cravings? Think about what that craving means and really try to understand what your body is looking for. Do you want to eat when you know you are full? Ask yourself why. Do you eat when you are bored? Acknowledge that. Do you eat when you feel sad? Dive deep, tune into those emotions. Be aware of your actions, speak to yourself in a kind way when thinking about food and how you eat and really start to pay attention to how you choose to nourish yourself. Give yourself permission to be in control of your health, don't place the obligation on a diet or cleanse.
Look for ways to add to your wellness regime that feel right to you. That could be finding recipes that make you feel inspired to cook or deciding to stretch in the mornings. Positive changes towards your health shouldn't be drastic or black and white if you want them to stick around. Again, your body knows best, listen. As an example I used to be really hard on myself when I didn't go to the gym. I would feel bad, guilty and lazy. Then one day I gave myself permission to say "it's okay if you don't want to go to the gym today, you'll make it another day" this changed the way I feel not only about exercise, but about myself too! I realized it's not something I have to do, it's something I want to do when it feels best.
Once you start to understand, listen and give yourself permission to be an active participant in your health, you will start to bring balance to your mind and body. Do you see how none of this is actually about the food, but about how we perceive ourselves in relation to food? These mental shifts can't and won't happen overnight, but taking steps to consciously think about them will bring you towards a healthier more gratifying relationship with yourself and food. Be patient
and allow yourself the space to do what is best for you. As always, if you need someone to talk to, a gentle nudge or some help I am just a click away :)
Yours in health, -Emily