I do so many nutrition plans and the conclusion from my work with all the wonderful women that I work with, is that most of them need to work more on their relationship with food and the way they treat their own self. Emotional eating, the guilt we feel after we eat one thing or another and the rules that are the foundation of our nutrition plan, are what is actually sabotaging our progress.
I think that a lot of people trust me, because I have been through all this and no matter what you share with me – I won’t think it is ridiculous. I won’t blame you. I will understand you and I will tell you exactly what I needed to hear, when I used to be in this situation. My thoughts are rushing, and I am not quite sure that I will manage to structure what I want to share with you, but at least I will try. I hope, that somewhere between the lines, you will discover the words, that will complete the puzzle of the answer you need right now.
1.Our relationship with food
Food is just this – food. It is not guilt, deprivation, limitation, bad, good. Food is a choice. Food is fuel. Food is an attitude. Food satisfies one of our most basic instincts and avoiding it or having a negative relationship with it, means that we are denying a basic part of our own self – and we cannot be in peace with our own self, if we deny something so significant.
I went through a lot of extremes. I went through a lot of rules, limitations and deprivation. I went through my fanatic convictions and I suffered their consequences – those of the mind and of the physique.
I found balance, when I improved my relationship with food. When I decided that I won’t forbid myself foods; when I stopped building my identity on the basis of how I choose to eat. When you attach your identity to – high fat, low carb; meat eater; vegetarian; vegan and so forth, you are actually placing the boundaries of your own self. You start obeying every one of your choices not to what your body dictates, but to what your ego and what your mind say you should do. You are the one who puts labels on your identity and then you are fiercely trying to stick to this mask/ image. The problem comes, with the conflict between what you feel that you want; what you need and what your mind says that you are supposed to do.
When we realize, that nobody is keeping us responsible for our choices – that it doesn’t matter that you ate a piece of candy, a handful of rice or a bigger steak, than we actually needed, then everything changes.
When we realize, that we are not obliged to explain other people why we eat a certain food, then we feel free.
Food is not something to be scared of; not a reason to lose control and then blame yourself. Food is pleasure and pleasure is about the dose.
2.The limitations of the rules
Every diet comes with a bunch of rules, a bunch of “must” and “mustn’t”. In reality, the right thing in one moment, might be the wrong one in another – i.e. the rightness of a particular choice is dependent on the situation itself.
Eating sweets on a daily basis and all the time is not the best choice. Eating something sweet, when you feel you need it or eating a couple spoonfuls of banana cream after lunch, is a completely normal behavior.
When we realize, that our diet is not static and that today is not supposed to be a copy paste of yesterday – after all, today we are not who we used to be yesterday – is the moment of freedom. Then, you realize that just because, yesterday, you had an omelet for breakfast, fish for lunch and a steak for dinner, and today you had a smoothie for breakfast, sweet potato for lunch and fish for dinner, doesn’t mean that your diet has failed. It doesn’t mean that you do not have will and doesn’t mean you are a failure.
Sometimes, will is just a stupid form of being stubborn and the ignorance of not listening to your body. Sometimes will is the weapon of the mind, to keep us locked into a behavior, which is destroying us, instead of building us.
Healthy eating is not built on rules, but it is built on recommendations – a result of personal experience and the deep knowledge about your own body. Recommendations, which are just the initial start – then everything is up to the fine tunes, that we do on our own. We track how our body reacts to different foods and behaviors and then we apply this knowledge.
3.Sweet foods and carbs are not junk food
That’s right. It is not sweet foods and carbs that are junk, but the sources that we usually choose. What could be unhealthy about preparing a pudding of banana, honey, cocoa and vanilla? Absolutely nothing! What could be unhealthy about having a snack of banana with a teaspoon of nut butter and sprinkled walnuts? Absolutely nothing!
Everything comes up to the goals we have and the quantity of the food we eat. That is right – everything comes up to the quantity. It is not the food choices that sabotage us, it is the amount of food we eat.
You need to reprogram your mind and to realize that sweet foods and carbs are not bad, unhealthy, forbidden or a failure of the diet.
Personally, I healed my relationship with food, when I stopped forbidding myself certain foods; I stopped waiting for a particular day, in order to ALLOW myself to eat something that my body craved. Now I know that I can eat everything – every single day. But I just ask myself what I need and I let my instincts and my appetite to guide me – I know when I need carbs, when I need something sweet, salty or fatty – and I eat it.
In the past, I could not keep nuts at home – I ate as much as I had. I was afraid of nuts! Because I used to think that it is not good to eat them. Because I used to associate them with periods of binging and a feeling of guilt.
Now I keep nuts at home and I eat them on a daily basis – I eat a few with my breakfast. Because I realized that there are a lot of foods that in a bigger quantity could sabotage my goals and progress, but in smaller quantities they are the perfect balance to each meal and they bring pleasure and satiety, that don’t push me towards extremes.
4.It is better to eat enough food on a daily basis
This is my main rule – it is far better to eat enough on a daily basis, even when it looks a little bit more, than to deprive myself for 5 days and then lose control and binge for 10 days ahead. Which one do you think is sabotaging you? Increasing your food intake with 200-300 calories and still be in a deficit, or to eat 6,000-10,000 calories in a day, during a binge?
It is far better to eat delicious foods and not have the fear of adding some butter, a piece of jamon, nuts, banana, honey and so forth, than eating plane and unsatisfying foods all week long, which make you live with the thought that you are missing on something; that you are deprived of something and that you are not worthy to have something.
5.A person doesn’t live with how he looks, but with how he feels
We start with the wrong mindset –clenching to the end goal. We do not outline a plan and we do not move step by step. We try to jump over the precipice of where we are today, to the place where we want to be in an year. Or to be more precise, we do not realize that the distance is so big and we want everything to happen quickly. We underestimate the distance, we jump straight ahead and… we fall inside the precipice, because something comes short – and it is our patience and self-awareness.
The awareness that change happens gradually, because it is not just a physical change. The body is a reflection of the mind and in order for the body to change, there should be first a change in our way of thinking; the way we perceive and the way we choose.
This is equal to an evolution of our mind and understanding. It means to stop treating your body like a trash can; to stop associating every positive or negative emotion with food.
6.The paradox of our diet
The paradox in life is that the more you give, the more you receive. I treat my body the same way – the more I take care of it; the more I nurture it, the more it will give me back in return.
Results are not achieved with deprivation and limitation. This is equal to taking from other people and expecting them to give you something. How could that happen with the body? We steal from its energy, health, nutrients and we expect it to serve us! Nobody has given something, before he actually had something to give. It is the same with the body. Respect it, accept it and take care of it. And taking care of it, doesn’t go through extremes – it is a matter of balance. It is neither gluttony, nor deprivation. If, every time you choose, you think about these words, you won’t choose wrong!