April 12, 2014
When I ask my clients to describe their relationship with food, I often wonder what emotions and feelings come to them when they initially read the question. If someone had asked me the same thing years ago I don't even know where I would have started. Now I could write an entire book on this topic!
In the name of a concise take home message, lets talk about food battles that are WORTH fighting. For example, what is the point of food in the first place? Sustenance, enjoyment, taste, regeneration, social connection, the list goes on.
Simplifying my relationship with food has done wonders for my enjoyment, comfort and physical results. If you have read my story, then you know that while I have always enjoyed food, it wasn't always a harmonious relationship. In the past I ate mindlessly, felt guilt and even confusion with what choices to make. Count calories? Eat low fat? Eat a whole foods diet?
Over the years I managed to find what worked for me. The greatest thing is that YOU get to decide the best diet for you. The one that leaves you satisfied with taste, amount of food and physical results. Satisfaction is not eating everything you want, it is eating foods that make you feel great mentally, physically and emotionally.
Just like you do with your loved ones, there are some battles that are worth fighting and some that are not. Sometimes the amount of effort you put in will not reap the rewards you desire. Here are some of the battles that I think are worth fighting for:
Stop labelling foods good or bad.
Once I stopped labelling pizza as bad and spinach as good it gave me way more satisfaction and freedom with my food choices. Pizza tastes good to me! I don't want to feel badly for eating it, but I also want to see results physically. I pack my day with foods that give me energy and leave me feeling great like salads, scrambles, smoothies and enough water so that when I do have pizza I really enjoy it without any guilt at all.
Eat protein at every meal or snack.
The bottom line is protein helps to keep you full, maintain muscle mass and control the hormones insulin and cortisol. I am not talking about eating a steak three times a day. Choose eggs, fish, quinoa, hemp seeds, chicken etc. Adequate amounts of protein help to prevent cravings and energy highs and lows too.
How much is enough? Health Canada describes the minimum amount of protein intake to be 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. If you are active, it should be at least 1.2 grams per kilogram. Ex. An active individual weighing 60kg would have a daily protein goal of 72 grams.
Find easy ways to eat vegetables every single day.
Cut them up ahead of time on Sundays. Buy pre-cut veggies at the store. Pick 3 green vegetables you love and eat lots of them. Put butter on them for heaven's sake. Make vegetables enjoyable and prioritize them. They are low in calories, high in fibre, full of vitamins and will keep you lean.
Avoid deprivation and find a treat that works for you.
If the path you are currently on is leaving you feeling deprived an unexcited about food, here's a news flash: it will end in a sad binge and a teary phone call with your bestie. Have a couple squares of dark chocolate, harness your willpower and order a kids size blizzard.
Notice if your indulgences actually satisfy you. If a couple squares of chocolate takes the edge off and allows you to enjoy vegetables and lean protein for dinner, that is a win!
Find a treat that tastes great and enjoy it mindfully. Having a treat regularly (I try 2-3 days between treats) will actually HELP you stay on track.
The take home message is we need to eat to stay full and satisfied. Perfection with eating simply does not exist, and if you think it does it is fleeting anyways! Take a long term view, fight the battles worth fighting and you will experience joy & satisfaction with food.