I Should Be Grateful to Have A Relationship with Food

One of my greatest bug bears of this year has been the response (good and bad) to diet culture.

I may not be ending 2019 where I intended to be (a different country to start with!) but I have been on a significant journey of self discovery.

I always intended to have a steady relationship with food and a balanced approach to nutrition, but not for one second did I think I’d end up in a such a funky mindset with food.

It is my fault to a certain extent by being persuaded by some uneducated plonkers on the internet, but I also blame the lack of gratitude the western world has for food.

It is so easy to forget that in some parts of the world they do not have access to food and clean water. Meanwhile we are too busy worrying about having too small a bum and not a flat enough stomach and taking this out on our relationship with the contents of our shopping trolley.

Now I’m not talking about people with eating disorders… that’s a whole different kettle of fish. But I’m talking about the influencers telling us to ditch one type of food and instead spend our money on something else that is fashionable at that very moment in time. Especially when it is driven by their financial gain. Cue #cyonidegate

Yesterday I complied fully with my no snacking/sit at the table rules and for something so simple it was so empowering. I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted but it must fall within breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I was too full I could have whatever I’d wanted at the next meal.

It felt like such a grounded day with food. I did not overeat, I felt in control and I felt grateful that I had a fridge full of food to choose from.

I appreciate its only one day but the experience was so much more rewarding that seeing a number drop on the scales. My mind has become so consumed with the thought of foods (and my bank balance has become so empty signing up to every dieting plan there is) that it was nice to have a break.

Today I took the plunge and didn’t weigh out my breakfast. Scary stuff!

I appreciate it might sound a bit whacky to be ‘grateful’, but being introduced to daily gratitude was a life changing thing for me. At the time I was unemployed, looking at returning to live with my parents and it was putting a huge strain on my relationships. Being able to focus on the good in my life at the point stopped me from going under and 12 months later we are back on track.

I won’t let diet culture and social media influence me anymore. I am not against weight loss – I’m on a mission to shave a few inches off myself. But nor will I succumb to the games of diet culture and/or anti diet culture.

So there we have it! I’ll get off my soap box now!

Stop The Snacking

What I’m referring to is the mindless eating AKA “Cadbury’s Heroes gate”. This (and eating anywhere except the table) is my biggest vice. It’s what throws me off course and leads to me feeling preeettyyy rubbish about myself and where I end up going down the path of mindless munchies.

Firstly… if I’m absolutely ravenous then of course I’m going to have a snack. You only get one life and I’m certainly not going to make myself miserable by starving myself if I can help it.

Photo by Felipe Cardoso on Pexels.com

What I’m referring to is the mindless eating AKA “Cadbury’s Heroes gate”. This (and eating anywhere except the table) is my biggest vice. It’s what throws me off course and leads to me feeling preeettyyy rubbish about myself and where I end up going down the path of mindless munchies. It also gives me terrible indigestion (this would be a great place to insert an affiliate link to Gaviscon!!).

There will be exceptions to the rule e.g. the cinema, a picnic or a day at the beach. But on my general day to day living, the snacking is getting the chop.

There was a time where we were encouraged to eat more meals in a day. By default we are encouraged to have two snacks a day. It’s what is considered ‘best’ for us. Do we always need them? Probably not. Do we eat them anyway? Well I do. Sometimes even more than two snacks.

I personally think this a door into an unhealthy relationship with food. It allows me to associate food with emotions, boredom and stress. Would I choose to stress eat if I were to sit down at a table? Probably not. Would I choose to stress eat during an actual meal? Again, probably not. Would I boredom eat if I knew I had to go sit at a table? Unlikely.

I spend a lot of my time watching my husband (and not in a creepy way!). He has an excellent relationship with food. He also remains a stable weight with a very good body fat percentage. He rarely snacks and always eats at the table. He’s my evidence base if anyone asks.

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I’m going to attempt to stop snacking for 30 days and see what happens. Typically I don’t snack between breakfast and lunch but the rest of the time is currently free game. I normally don’t eat after 8PM because of indigestion but this could really do with being 7PM.

Now don’t fret. That’s all the behavioural changes I’ll be making this side of Christmas. It’s a bit of a weird Christmas this year as Tim is working most of it, my Mum is in hospital and it’s all a bit chaotic. We WILL be having a Christmas dinner but I don’t think there will be much else going on so I won’t need to worry about letting myself go too much. Even New Year will be quiet as Tim is working both New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day.

It will be the first Christmas in my 32 years of living that will be a bit of a nothing Christmas. Ah well, it happens to us all at some point.

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What I’ve Learned in 2019

This year has been quite a messy year across the board and although I’ve miraculously kept my mental health relatively intact, I would say that my relationship with food has been affected. Well maybe my relationship with dieting rather than food…. I can’t quite pinpoint with what is ‘off’ but something definitely is.

I’ve somehow managed to lose 8-9lbs this year which may not seem much but with a crazy job, relocation and financial fun times, I think I have achieved somewhat of a miracle.

They say knowledge is power, but I think in the case of nutrition and weight management, this isn’t always the case. Divulging into the ‘library’ of nutritional ‘advice’ on Instagram makes for a very interesting read with everybody expressing their opinions, fat shaming, diet shaming and even massive disagreements among health professionals.

I know that a calorie deficit is required. I know that after 20 years of on/off calorie counting that I don’t require much energy to run on. I know that I snack when I’m not hungry. I know I need to increase my strength training. Yet ‘influencers’ are always there encouraging me to believe something different (highlighting that they are skilled at their job at least!)

The thing is… I’m beginning to think I’m very much on the journey of being a mindful eater and it makes it tricky to believe all the rubbish that is on the internet.

My ultimate goal would be just to mindfully eat and get rid of all the dieting apps and memberships I currently possess. That’s my long term goal. However, in the meantime I can’t guarantee I won’t track calories here and there and there is nothing wrong with that. I ain’t perfect and I’m no longer trying to be.

The thing is there is so much expectation and pressure to be the perfect dieter, with the perfect weight loss journey and quite frankly guys that just isn’t a thing. Different approaches work for different people and primarily the goal is to prioritise your health over everything else. Losing weight to the detriment of your mental health is achieving diddly squat yet it is SO easy to end up there.

There is so much extremism on the internet that it’s ridiculous and by shaming anyone for anything is causing so much harm. I once used #intuitiveeating and was kindly informed I was a trigger for eating disorders. For someone who has a cosncious, I didn’t take that well. Sometimes some of us fall in the gap between dieting and intuitive eating and I won’t apologise for that.

2012 vs 2016

My biggest goal is not what I look like tomorrow or next week, but to build up my muscle, drop my body fat to a slightly healthier level and prepare myself for my future. I’m at high risk of osteoarthritis AND at risk of low bone density, which if my new scales are to believed then it’s teetering at being low as it is!

I am a bit bigger now than what I was in 2016. Body image does affect my confidence and I am often the ‘bigger’ friend in the group. I want to be able to not have to worry about covering up when the sun shines. I want to be able to wear mini skirts. No one has imposed these thoughts on me, it is my own belief system which is a LOT better than it used to be. But I’ve lined up a couple of things for next year to help me along the way.

So by the end of 2019 I’ve learnt that I’m generally quite confused by weight loss (and generally speaking the world we live in!) I’m learning that I am a rule breaker and don’t like to be told what to do and what to eat. I’m learning that I don’t massively enjoy calorie counting but I do appreciate it has it’s place and is something I may have to use for a while. I’m learning that I’m so glad I’m not a dietitian because I could not be bothered having to unpick what the internet has told my clients to do. I’ve been informed that most people in the fitness industry have their own complicated relationship with food and aren’t always the best people to listen to. Finally, I’ve learned that this is my journey and ultimately I know what works best for me. I have so much confidence in knowing this in other areas of my life, but it has most definitely been a pitfall when it comes to weight loss.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post then I applaud you for making your way through my ramblings. I hope that you take with you that it takes time to really know your body and that it’s OKAY to find weight loss plans difficult to stick to. Restriction is hard and ultimately our bodies don’t care what they look like in a bikini – they want to survive and by reducing our calorie intake, they foresee a food shortage. We should really thank our bodies for being clever enough to respond to try and keep us alive.

Let’s try to break the doom and gloom and focus on living a simple healthy life!

Mindful Eating – Take a Seat

The only thing I have to achieve today is to eat everything at the dinner table. That’s it.

As I am riddled with disease today and have somewhat lost my appetite, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce a new behaviour to my eating routine.

The only thing I have to achieve today is to eat everything at the dinner table. That’s it.

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PS That’s what my dinner looks like every night. I wish!

You see the thing is I only eat at the table once a day at a push. I tend to have my breakfast in the car, lunch at work, snacks in the car, dinner at the table (and even that can be hit and miss) and then more snacks whilst sitting on the sofa.

This does mean I will have to start getting up earlier to have breakfast at the table, have lunch at a table at work and forgo any snacking on the way home.

This seems such a simple yet effective way of making me focus on my food and make eating more of a conscious effort.

Now one could argue this is just implementing more rules around food, and yes it is. But instead of focusing instead of what’s on my plate I’m focusing on what I’m doing instead. My current way of eating isn’t working for me and it’s negatively impacting on my relationship with food. Surely, encouraging me to sit at the table to eat is a much more healthy approach than eliminating food groups or limiting my calories?

In the meantime I’m off to dose up on ibupofen and a wheat bag for my neck.