I get asked questions about food, diet and eating habits – including my own – rather a lot. People assume that, because I specialise in Eating Disorders, I can tell them how to lose weight. They also assume that I eat a perfectly healthy diet.
Let me set the record straight – there is no such thing as a perfect diet.
I’m not a dietician, and nor do I want to be. Healthy eating for me is not about calories or fats and proteins but is about how you feel. How you feel impacts upon the way you eat, and the way your body copes, just as much as putting in 5 fruit and veg a day – or whatever the latest guidelines say is necessary.
Why do I say this? It is mostly because I experience it to be true – both for me and for my clients.
A happy, healthy-minded person who is living life fully does not binge on food regularly, or restrict their diet so much that they don’t have the energy to work (which often also results in binging). I’ve yet to meet a yo-yo dieter who is content enough to say they love themselves as they are. Your relationship with eating starts with your relationship with yourself and your emotions.
So here are my three tips on changing your attitude, gaining a bit of perspective, and loving yourself a little bit more
1 – Stop thinking of food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. When we class food as ‘bad’ (and by bad I mean high fat or high sugar, not stale!) it becomes a forbidden treat. Then, when you eventually allow yourself to have it you are much more likely to eat the entire cake, rather than a slice or two. Furthermore, when we call food ‘bad’, this produces guilt – which makes you feel as if YOU are bad. You aren’t; what you eat does not dictate your value as a human. It’s just food. You are SO much more than what you ate at your last meal.
2 – Acknowledge WHY you eat (or don’t eat). Food – for almost everyone – carries unspoken meaning. Perhaps you eat to fill a void; you are feeling empty because your life is not fulfilling you – but there will never be enough food to fill that hollow feeling. Or maybe you are not eating enough because you put everyone else’s needs before your own and so you struggle to have energy to meet your own need. You might even be under-eating because you don’t believe you deserve nice yummy things – be that your favourite cheesy pasta or a hug! If any of this is touching a nerve, perhaps you might want to consider arranging some counselling sessions to explore this further.
3 – Enjoy the food you eat! When you stop to enjoy the meal (or snack) you’re eating, your body responds appropriately; it knows by instinct when you need food, and when you don’t – but lots of people aren’t listening to their body and instead are just eating out of routine. When we fail to pay attention to eating, we miss out on an important part of the dining experience and our brain doesn’t register the food we have just consumed and so keeps sending out hunger signals, which may well result in over eating. So make time for eating; sit, taste and enjoy.
That’s all for today but if you like this sort of post – let me know in the comments!