So far, my 29th year has felt like the one where I’ve truly got my shit together, in so many aspects of my life, especially as I’ve FINALLY developed a healthy relationship with food.
Finding a balance and getting in the mindset of healthy eating has been a difficult journey for me. I like to think myself a true foodie and nothing makes me happier than eating, which means I’ve often turned to food for comfort and entertainment.
I’ve tried pretty much every food trend and diet going (including paleo, veganism & vegetarianism). I lived happily as a vegetarian for a good six years, until one day, an old housemate was making chicken fajitas and I was soon seduced back into the life of a meat eater. I also went through a stage of not eating enough, forgetting to eat at all some days! It was at this time that I was sick with worry, eating was the last thing on my mind.
Then came the time I was eating far too much, none of the good stuff either. I’m sure I was keeping the local takeaways in business by this point, the amount of Dominos boxes in my recycling bin was embarrassing! I started gaining fat in places I hadn’t before, I was lethargic and my bank balance was taking a serious hit. My reason for all this overeating? simply boredom and laziness.
I had always thought of myself as a foodie but was I really? Like many people today, Instead of enjoying food, I was using it to self-medicate. It got to the stage where I would let food control my emotions. I’d eat a low-calorie salad and be short-tempered. I’d eat a chocolate bar then feel guilty, so I wouldn’t eat anything for hours after to make up for it (that doesn’t work by the way). I was stuck in a never-ending cycle, I was taking one step forward and two steps backwards. I had to stop food controlling my life.
Now I have more time on my hands, I’ve really made the effort to re-educate myself about food and have been experimenting a lot more in the kitchen. I’ve also cut down my meat intake, a personal choice that feels right for me. A few habits I’ve developed since I started a healthier lifestyle:
Separating hunger from emotional cravings
A couple years ago, My little sister lost ALOT of weight, she said the one thing that spurred her on was a small bit of advice from her doctor. “It’s ok to feel hungry sometimes,”. After this, she was able to separate emotional cravings from actual hunger. If you’re anything like I was, you might start shaking after 2 hours of not eating. Through my new approach to food, I’ve learned that I was shaking so much because I was addicted to sugar and food in general. The anxiety of REALLY wanting a sugar loaded caramel latte or crisps was actually making me tremble. I’ve now learned to separate hunger from addiction and I no longer get that feeling of urgency. Intermittent fasting has really helped me with that.
Is something I now practise each day. So I only eat between the hours of 12:30 pm – 8:30 pm. People are often alarmed when I tell them this, though I now find this easy and I’m not at all denying myself. Intermittent fasting has been proven to be beneficial to our health. (Of course, check with your doctor before attempting any type of fasting, if you have an underlying health issue then this could be dangerous for you.) I find intermittent fasting really refreshing. It isn’t about starving yourself or becoming skinny, for me, it’s about resetting my taste buds and really appreciating food while becoming healthier. It can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, help you lose weight and belly fat and can induce the cellular repair process. That’s just some of the benefits you may experience when practising this. It’s not for everyone but It’s had a positive effect in the way I think about food, I now find myself making healthier choices and no longer craving sugary food.
I used to have pudding after every meal when I ate out. It was nice to treat myself but I often find after the first bite, that I’ve had the sugar hit I wanted, Then I eat the rest of it just because it’s there. If I really want a pudding which I often don’t, I will go halves on one with a friend or my boyfriend. I’m more of a savoury girl these days anyway, so I make sure my starter is spot on.
I used to eat off a big plate, now I use a bowl. This ensures that I’m giving myself a smaller portion so I stop eating once I’m full.
Food is energy:
Food is probably one of, if not, THE greatest pleasure in the world. When I feel like I’m about to overeat, I remind myself that my body needs nutrients rather than a whole lot of rubbish. Being mindful of what I put into my body and making sure to prepare my meals means I’m fueling my body and not just filling it up.
Preplan your meals for the week and make a shopping list:
Marketing & merchandising of junk food drives me insane. Walking into a supermarket feels like a battlefield where the healthy side is forever losing. I used to just waltz into the supermarket not really having an idea of what I needed. Instead, I’d panic and buy random foods, often food with no nutritional content. I would often go there hungry as well which never helps. Now I use the same list every week, it has all my food essentials organised into veg, tinned etc.
Apart from feeling more awake, happier and slimmer, another benefit I’m enjoying is the money I’m saving. No more impulse food buys means more money for fun things!
Always seek advice from a health before practitioner embarking on a new diet.