Making Peace With Food
The holidays remind us that eating is one of the most emotional experiences of our lives. Nature shows us this from our earliest days on the planet through the act of breastfeeding. Not only is it one way to provide nourishment through infancy, it is also a prominent mode in which newborns are able to bond with their mothers. As we get older, and the necessity to bond with others expands, this experience is transferred to the act of celebration when we gather at the dinner table or a restaurant, or even the ways in which we honor religious traditions with specially prepared meals. Though these are all positive examples of food-centered experiences, it’s not uncommon for these situations to cause anxiety or worse, guilt. Sadly, it isn’t just around the holidays that food-related anxiety occurs. Being in a diet/weight-obsessed society, we’re bombarded with messages about the food we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat, so it’s no surprise that we often result in feeling overwhelmed and misinformed.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I’m here to tell you that there is a way to enjoy the food you eat and still be healthy. It’s called Mindful (or Intuitive) Eating. This is the very concept that I have personally used to lose and keep off 85 pounds. I now bring this practice into my nutrition practice, guiding clients to be empowered in their food choices but most importantly, back in touch with their bodies! It’s important to remember that Mindful (or Intuitive Eating) takes time. In the beginning, you are in a stage where you are learning to essentially unravel all preconceived notions about, but also reestablishing your relationship with food. To get started in making true peace with your body and food, I’ve listed some of my best tips to start creating positive change.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
This might sound oversimplified, but hear me out. Have you ever reached for seconds, despite feeling uncomfortably full? Or ignored your hunger, because it just wasn’t “time” for the next meal? This is a common (and a major) way in which we ignore our body’s internal cues. Basically, our hormones are at work, trying to send us a message- “Feed me!” or “I’m full.” - and we just don’t listen. Not honoring our body’s needs further separates us from being in a loving relationship with it. I don’t know about you, but if I’m constantly ignored, I certainly don’t feel loved, and the same goes for our bodies. So maybe you just start with how it feels to be hungry (which is about 3-4 hours between meals), notice how your energy/mood is after you eat so you are better able to assess what foods moods truly make you feel nourished.
SAVE LABELS FOR SOUPCANS
I hear this all the time, “[Insert whatever treat food] is so bad for you.” or referring to the act of eating a treat food as “cheating.” This is dichotomous thinking and is very common with food. The notion that food is simply “good” or “bad” is bologna, in my professional opinion. Of course, there are foods that better serve you and your body, they contain more nutrients, vitamins, etc. But, just because you have a piece of cake does not make you “bad” nor a “cheater.” If there isn’t a diet to follow, there is no cheating. Start to observe your language around food so that you have the awareness to create change. Instead of “junk food,” why not call it “fun food?”
If you are dieting, you have eliminated the trust in yourself and your body. You essentially give reigns to a company or fad to tell you (and a million other people) what to eat. Do you really think that there is a single diet that optimally serves everyone? No. Once you begin to listen and respond to your body’s needs, you build that trust and really, you’re the only one who is going to know your body well enough to know what to feed it! If you’re at a holiday party and really want a cookie, eat the cookie! It’s better than the alternative, restriction, which will only lead to overeating the food in the future.
HONOR YOUR FEELINGS
As I mentioned, food can be an emotional experience but it doesn’t mean it should be overtaken by our emotions. Consistently reaching for sweets when you’re sad or stressed might seem like a solution to the problem at hand, but really, it’s one way in which we are dishonoring our bodies and selves. Creating a mindfulness practice has been consistently proven to be beneficial for overall health. This can be carving out 5 minutes for meditation, mindful exercise like yoga, using a food journal to log emotions and physical symptoms before/after a meal, and/or even journaling about your day to give your feelings an outlet. Food should both be nourishing and enjoyable. However, it’s when it habitually plays the role of a “band-aid” that we stray from honoring our true feelings. So next time you find yourself in the midst of a stressful day, observe your initial reactions. Are they serving you? If not, turn to your preferred choice of mindful activity.
Nia has over 10 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. As a teenager, she took part in her own wellness journey, losing over 85 pounds. Along this journey, she began to discover society’s flawed view on “health,” from the pressure of dieting to its obsession in being “thin.” After years of self-study, Nia obtained her Master’s in Nutritional Wellness, along with her certifications in Yoga and Reiki. She has since founded Eclectic Wellness and created a holistic weight-loss program, Holy Shift!, focused on the concepts of mindful (or Intuitive) eating and helping women claim their confidence and power back through their wellness choices. Nia’s current offerings include one-on-one nutrition coaching and meal prep guidance. To learn more about Nia’s services and/or work with her, click below to schedule a complimentary consultation or head to her website: eclecticwellnesssd.com.