Kale’s all the rage. Everyone’s talking about it because it’s healthy. But do you want to know what’s even healthier than kale?
Having a good relationship with food!
I used to think that because I loved eating healthy food I had a healthy relationship with food. Over time, though, and with further education, I had the courage to dig deeper and finally learned that my relationship with food actually wasn’t healthy at all. It was a relationship filled with stress and worry - about my health, and about my ever-changing body.
Sometimes, we have the best intentions for our health and the plan still backfires because we don’t have a healthy relationship with food. We can get stuck in the cycle of “being good” and then go back to our usual habits, and then starting all over again with a new plan. Again, again and again.
The Diet Mind
For example, let’s say you make the decision to give up processed sugar. On day one, you feel empowered. Day two still feels pretty good, by day three you’re pretty proud of yourself… but as the days go on you’re starting to feel restricted, like you’re on a diet (or an eating plan), like you have to be regimented and restrictive.
This is the diet mind the vast majority of us have developed over the years.
Over 20 million women and 10 million men have been diagnosed with clinical eating disorders according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Yet if these statistics included subclinical challenges with eating called “disordered eating” which falls between eating disorders and normal eating, the numbers would be shocking says Hilary Kinavey, therapist and founder of BeNourished.
I fell into this category of “disordered eating” when I was obsessed with eating all things healthy.
Even when we consciously try to make change just for health’s sake, our preprogrammed mindset begins to take over and follow old patterns.
When we are engaged with the dieting or restrictive mind, we are nervous, anxious, thinking about weight (even if it’s supposed to be about health) and preoccupied with food. Thoughts become black and white. Flexibility and pleasure are replaced with agendas and plans. We tighten up and we lose our grounded footing. Self-hatred dominates.
- Be Nourished
So, how do we conquer this mentality?
With awareness and by taking baby steps.
The first step that you can take today is taking the time to pause and reflect on your unique relationship with food. I encourage you to try this journal exercise:
Sit somewhere quiet, without distractions. Grab a pen and paper and let your mind flow. Don’t try and come up with the “right” answers, just let your hand write what it wants to. Speak from your heart.
Journal: Make Peace with Food
- How would you describe your current relationship with food?
- If your relationship isn’t where you’d like it to be, what would an ideal relationship with food be and feel like for you?
As a Mind Body Nutritionist, my favorite strategy for helping clients have a healthier relationship with food is by taking them through the re-learning process of becoming an Intuitive Eater again.
Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based, dynamic integration approach which connects the mind and the body. The 10 Intuitive Eating principles work by either cultivating or removing obstacles to body awareness. It’s a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.
It’s a liberating process. It brings you back into your body and taps into your own innate wisdom.
Intuitive Eating is not a diet or food plan. Period. There is no pass or fail, therefore, there is no “blowing it,” rather it’s a journey of self-discovery and connection to the needs of your mind and body. Ultimately, you are the expert of your body. Only you know what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feels like. Only you know your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Intuitive Eating is an empowerment tool - it’s time to unleash it and liberate yourself from the prison of the “diet” mindset and dissatisfaction with our human bodies.
To your happiness and health,