I recently asked Instagram a question “what do you struggle with more? Nutrition or fitness?” The answer didn’t really surprise me because I too find the temptation and mind games of food much more gruelling than going to the gym.
My relationship with food has been on and off. As a child, food was simple, but it became more complicated as I got older. I fell into a downward spiral and distorted my mind into avoiding carbs, counting calories, and believing limitation and starvation were healthy.
I realised I couldn’t eat like this forever. So, after performing my own research and consulting a nutritionist, I found a way to fall in love with maintaining a healthy diet. Here are my top 5 tips that I wish someone told me:
Change my Mind:
The biggest thing holding me back from a happy, healthy relationship with food was my mindset. Food was the enemy. Eating meant no sugar, no fat, obsessive calorie counting, measuring all my food, avoiding all carbs and starving myself. Did my body change? Yes. Was it unhealthy? Yes. Was I unhappy? Yes.
I took a step back to evaluate the choices I was making. I began to shift my thinking from:
“I have to eat like this to LOOK healthy and fit, then I’ll be happy” to “I’m happy in my own skin, but I want to FEEL healthy and better myself.”
I stopped chasing this unrealistic vision of looking a certain way and started asking – how can I feel better, eat healthier, nourish my body, train stronger and LIVE GREATER?
One of my favourite quotes is an old Buddhist adage, “you are already perfect as you are, yet you can always be better.”
To me, this meant accepting myself wholeheartedly and giving thanks for the body that allows me to move, walk, jump, run, lift and dance by nourishing it with healthy food, but I can always be better.
The first thing was stopping calorie counting as it scrambled my brain. It may work for some, but personally, it skewed my perspective on food. An apple wasn’t an apple it was 95 calories. A sandwich wasn’t a sandwich it was a carb and calorie overload. Food wasn’t enjoyable anymore it was a number game, and I couldn’t find a way to opt out.
It was challenging to stop counting because I had memorised the calorie content of so many foods. Slowly but surely I began to eat like I did when I was a kid. Which leads me to my next tip…
Your Body is a Wonderland:
“Listening to your body” is being in tune and evaluating how your body is feeling. What are you craving? Take a look at your skin, if it’s dry, you might need to eat some more foods high in antioxidants and omega 3’s. Is your tummy feeling gurgly? You might need to introduce more fruits, vegetables, and drink more water?
Slow down and take this as an opportunity to try new foods, see what your body thrives off. It may take some trial, error, and research but soon you’ll become intuitive to what gives your body energy, what makes you bloat, what makes your skin vibrant, etc.
Food is not the enemy:
I love food. Give me all the pizza, burgers, chocolate, lollies, pasta! I don’t see these foods as “junk” or “bad” because there is always a healthy alternative.
I’m not saying if you crave a cookie eat a carrot. It’s just not realistic.
When buying packaged foods like a cookie, don’t be fooled by the packaging. It may have the words “natural,” “sugar-free” and “fat-free” but always check the ingredient list. If I see a novel of ingredients on the back, numbers I don’t understand, words I don’t understand, or if the first ingredient is sugar, I don’t buy it.
I never feel like I’m missing out or guilt-ridden when I eat now. I’ll eat chickpea, lentil or quinoa pasta because it is more nutritious and full of protein. I’ll eat Loving Earth chocolate because it has minimal whole ingredients and satisfies my craving quicker. Sour lollies were my jam, but now I crave Pure Delish nograinola which is full of superfoods that do amazing things for the body!
Create a Health Haven:
When it comes to food kept in your house make sure it’s a health haven. If you only stock your home full of healthy, nutritious foods, then you don’t entertain the temptation of less nutritious foods. So before you go grocery shopping make sure you have a game plan, what meals do you want to make? What healthy snacks do you want on hand? Make a list and stick to it!
What we eat reflects a lot about us. Our values – whether we eat meat or not, buy organic or local. How we feel – eating fried foods make us feel crappy. How we look – having glowing, vibrant skin can be a testament to drinking water and munching on fruit and veggies.
Food is not the enemy. Food is a celebration. Food connects us with nature. It is an expression of love for our body and the people we love.
As a disclaimer, this article is from my experience and point of view. I am not a professional and all opinions are my own. This article should not be relied on as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. In no way am I expressing this is the only healthy diet. This is what works for me and my body.