No. 18 | The Great Food Battle — Good Eating, Body Image, and Everything In Between
I don’t know about you but my relationship with food has definitely had it’s rocky seasons. I’ve yo-yo dieted, calorie counted, binged, purged, compared, shamed, restricted, overeaten . . . everything. I’ve let my food intake define how I look at myself. If I overate, I’d feel out of control and over restrict myself as punishment. Then I’d get hungry and grumpy and overeat. Then I’d diet or binge to get thinner. Then I’d get emotional and overeat again to satiate my emotions. I’ve eaten the right things and the wrong things. I’ve looked in the mirror and pinched and pulled at my stomach and thighs to see how I’d look if I just lost 5 more pounds. Guys, it’s definitely been an uphill battle and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has to fight to fuel my body right.
When we’re surrounded by pictures of beautifully photoshopped bodies on our social screens and bombarded by ads selling the latest diet pill or meal prepping kit, it can get overwhelming. It’s hard not to look at ourselves and ask why we don’t measure up. Our perception of beauty can get kind of skewed and that can affect our relationship with food and more importantly, how we view our worth. It’s sad how our culture equates beauty with worth. The pretty girls get the part, the strong, masculine men get the leadership roles. I’m not going to pretend how we look doesn’t matter because unfortunately, it does. And until that changes, there’s always going to be a battle against food. But we don’t have to go through this battle empty handed. Arm yourself with tools to fight the fight well because YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Remember these things as you go into battle:
The food battle begins and ends in your mind.
If your mind isn’t right, you aren’t gonna eat right. Many times, we overeat or severely restrict our food intake as a means to satiate a different kind of hunger — the hunger for endorphins (hormones that make us happy) or the need to regain control. Without the right mindset, we could end up treating food as reward or punishment. If we don’t have the right motivation, eating food or dieting can become an emotional clutch that can harm us not only physically but psychologically. Before you eat or start a diet, ask yourself why you’re doing it.
It’s ok to “eat bad” — just not all the time.
Anything is fine in moderation. You’re not weak if you need a tasty snack every once in a while. If you’re feeling the chocolate craving, that’s ok. I repeat. That. Is. Ok. Just learn when you’re full. Learn how to sense when your body has had enough. And learn to say no when you’ve had too much.
Dude. Get some veggies in your life.
Our bodies are well designed machines. They know what they need and usually what they need is veggies. It’s ok to eat some “bad” food but make sure you eat a lot of good food too. Five servings a day is recommended but your body definitely won’t complain if you have more. Gradually, consistently eating veggies will slowly push out your cravings for “bad” foods. Your body naturally knows what it really wants — feed yourself some veggies.
Love your shape before lose the weight.
We tend to take better care of things we love. But when it comes to our bodies, it’s easier said than done, am I right? I know I definitely have days when I don’t really like my shape. I hate that feeling when my clothes feel like they’re fitting me weird or when I feel the constant need to suck my stomach in. We get bloated, lethargic, eat too much, eat too little…. hey, we’re only human! We have different metabolisms and come in all shapes and sizes. But every shape is beautiful. Your body is beautiful and it deserves to be loved. So give yourself a break before you try to hit your fitness goals. Don’t let your body size or your food intake define you. Once you can accept your body and separate it from your worth, you’ll find yourself in a better mindset to tackle those lifestyle changes and eating habits.
Learn some body awareness.
I’ve found that as I’ve become more aware of my body and what it’s capable of, it’s easier to show it some love by exercising, getting rest, and eating right. Yoga has played a big role in this. I started practicing yoga as a way to relieve stress but soon found that it helped me recognize and reconnect with the body I had been actively avoiding. I started to notice myself when I looked in the mirror. The more I practiced, the more I began to see a powerful, graceful human who could hold challenging poses and flow through both pain and sweat. When I started to recognize just how capable my body is, the shaming and yo-yo dieting slowly stopped. Yoga helped ground me and helped me appreciate the way my body works for me. I want to encourage you to do things that make you feel powerful and capable. Find an activity that forces you to recognize your body and appreciate what it can do. Get to know yourself, learn to love your shape, and good eating habits will follow.
Until next time,