Could the 'WHY' be more important than the 'WHAT' when it comes to food?
As I’ve got older, I’d like to think I’ve accepted my shape, well – some days?!?! I exercise to keep fit and I eat relatively healthily. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint (I’ve just had 4 mini Toblerones while writing this) but I would like to understand why I spend so much time thinking about food and not always in a positive way??
This is even more important to me now my eldest daughter is teetering on the teenage years and I’m keen for her to not have the same negative relationship my mother (clue) and I have held with food for far too long.
This was why I sought the advice of Josie Buck, aka The Mindful Cook, who opened my mind to the theory behind Mindful Eating and helped me get to the source of some of those food issues.
Why has it all become so confusing?
“The advancement in science and thinking around nutrition and food, the variety of ingredients available and the constant bombardment of conflicting messages around diets, exercise regimes and lifestyle fads have left us with information overload.
When coupled with the fact that our lives are so much busier as many of us spin numerous plates including family, work and social commitments, it’s no wonder so many people are left with little culinary inspiration and reach for convenient food options”.
Sshhhh we won’t tell – what’s the secret?
“For me, to change your relationship with food for the better over the long term, you must transform your mindset. We have to dig a little deeper to understand why we have developed the eating habits we have and what triggers them.
Much of it can start in our childhood. For example, if food was scarce as a child then as an adult we might unconsciously binge and over indulge as a reaction to that poverty. Or if food was used as a comforter to stop us from crying or playing up, we might find we still turn to it when we face problems in our adult life”.
I spoke to Josie about my yo-yo dieting and obsession with food – a story not unfamiliar to many I’m sure. When I was growing up my mum was always on a diet, constantly striving for the perfect body (dangerously at times). I now know this was a reaction to being in an unhappy marriage and ultimately rejection. But growing up in this environment I thought slim = happy.
As I matured and was more aware of the media/societal pressures around weight, this only confirmed my simplistic equation.
Over the years it became about control. Some people eat more when they’re stressed, with me however, as soon as I’d feel a little out of control, I’d stop eating. Back to that rudimental equation:
Stress = unhappy. Solution = lose weight = happy
Sometimes it simply takes someone else to make the connections and then you can start to understand how to tackle the issues in a positive way.
So how do we eat healthily?
“Food should make us feel good and provide our bodies with the energy we need to get us through our busy lives.
It’s not about saying this food is good or bad, it’s about helping busy people make better decisions about food and to understand that healthy food can be interesting and easy to put together.
When you understand how to eat well, healthier living becomes a habit and you can eat almost anything you want (wow we like the sound of that!) because you can trust the choices you make. You are far less likely to get caught out eating processed convenience foods or falling for marketing tricks like touting ready-made meals as weight loss products. And when you can eat whatever you want, you are suddenly free from the restrictive diet culture that casts a shadow over so many areas of your life”.
It seems that there is a new way of thinking that is steering us away from ‘off the shelf’ diet products, would you agree?
“Absolutely. It’s about going a bit deeper to address the old patterns and attitudes that affect our food choices. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to health. We all have different needs and different experiences and the guidance we seek should acknowledge that”.
If you’re looking to improve your food choices and mindset, The Mindful Cook has given us these five top tips;
- Try practicing a little self-compassion. Remind yourself that your body shape does not define who you are. You are a whole load more than that!
- Invest in a shiny new cookbook that features wholesome, simple recipes that call for mostly fresh ingredients. Go for the book rather than the online version so you get to go home and thumb through it.
- Challenge yourself to buy one new food every time you go to the supermarket. With so many varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables and so many different types of ethnic and imported products around, it will be a long time before you run out of new ideas. Research recipes that use it online and get creative!
- Take a cooking class or food retreat. Healthy cooking classes are a fun and easy way to introduce yourself to new foods and new people.
- Do yourself a favour and ditch the diets. If you really want to make changes to your health and happiness, then take on a food mindset coach. Someone who can work with you to create the change you desire for good.
You can find out more about Josie and The Mindful Cook at: www.themindfulcook.co.uk