We are nearing to the Holiday season, in my experience that involves a lot of festive eating and drinking and along with that a lot of guilt and shame. Perhaps we could do it a little differently this year. Our bodies are intelligent, they know what they need. I want people to feel freedom around food again. I want people to find movement that makes them feel alive and they enjoy. This looks different for everyone. It is about really listening to your body and what it is calling for on a deeper level. What I always encourage people to do it come back to intuitive eating, my favourite approach for taking care of your health.
Freedom around food does not mean you will eat unhealthy for the rest of your life. If you go on a road trip and you have been eating take away and on-the-go food all the time, what do you crave when you first get home? We want veggies, we want something fresh that is going to make us feel better. You will want this as well to take care of your health. You will want to feel good, feel energetic. You will start to recognise what food serves you and what does not. It is not about what is good or bad, it is about what fills your cup up and what does not. It is about removing the guilt and shame around food, the fear around eating. It is about recognising that food is neither good nor bad, it is just food. It is what we need to survive, and we have become masters of making it delicious and full of flavour. Food is not just about how it serves your body, it is about socialising, connecting with others, comforting us and filling us with joy. There is so much more to food and health then calories, good fats and bad fats, macronutrients and micronutrients and anything that has become popular to discuss with our food. It does not have to be complicated, just simple, wholesome food that you enjoy and brings life into your life. That is what food is about.
When you eat something filled with guilt and shame, you actually affect your digestive system. So, not only will you be beating yourself up mentally for something you have labelled bad for you, you are also impacting how well your body functions. Adding stress hormones to the mix from feeling such strong negative emotions about your food isn’t going to serve you. How can you start to allow yourself more joy and freedom around the food you eat? Depriving yourself of foods that you label as bad for you will only make you want them more. Ever notice that the food you always tell yourself you shouldn’t be having is the one you want the most? If I were to tell you starting tomorrow you were never allowed to eat ice-cream again, what would you be eating tonight? You would be smashing down any ice-cream you can get your hands on just to get one final taste, probably to the point of making yourself feel sick. You do the same to yourself every day when you keep telling yourself that you can no longer eat a particular food group or food. You are making it scarce to your mind therefore it will only want to eat that while it can get it’s hands on it.
There is a positive psychology term called PERMA, it is an acronym for what has been determined to be the 5 key factors for a fulfilling life. P stands for Positive Emotions; what are you doing well this week? E stands for Engagement; What did you do this week that you really enjoyed? R is for Positive Relationships; did you connect with anyone this week? M is for Meaning; What motivated you this week? And A is for Accomplishments; celebrating your goals and acknowledging your accomplishments.
Notice that none of those involved starving yourself, depriving yourself of food you enjoy. None of those involved looking in a mirror and wishing you were something different. None of those involved beating yourself up in hopes that it will somehow improve you. It did not mention any necessity to changing your body. You cannot hate yourself enough to better yourself, it just will not happen. So, I would like you to really connect in and ask yourself if how you treat your body, if how you speak to your body, is any of that actually leading you to make better choices for a fulfilling and healthy life?