Good health is not just the absence of illness or disease. Good health is about a body that is functioning optimally with sound, refreshing sleep at night, good energy levels that see you through the day without slumps, and a balanced and mostly happy and carefree mood, all of which contribute to getting the best out of everyday. Of course physical and emotional health are so intertwined that one will always affect the other. The decisions we make around how we feed our bodies also affects our physical and emotional health and so it is worth giving it some consideration.
Choices around food can be seen to be a direct reflection of our self care. Why do some of us allow ourselves to have unhealthy habits? Why do some of us happily consume ‘food type substances’ (as they are not really food), that we know are full of toxins and chemicals that are slowly killing us? Is it a conversation we are too uncomfortable to have with ourselves? Are we good at self nurturing and putting our needs first? Have a look at the patterns of behaviour in your life and see how they reflect your eating habits. Do you pick food that is going to give your body the nutrients it needs? Are you prone to self-sabotage?
Behaviour is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals, and not being able to stick to a diet to lose weight is the classic self-sabotaging behaviour. The diabetic who continues to eat sugar and simple carbs, the celiac who continues to eat gluten, the person with fatty liver disease that continues to drink alcohol and eat processed foods with damaged fat are all self sabotaging behaviours. Why do we think we are treating ourselves when what we are eating and drinking means our body functions less well? If our body could speak would it say that what it has to digest and use for fuel is a treat?
As food and drink are such major parts of everybody’s day it is easy to use them as tools to prop up other areas of our life, the coffee or sugary snack for low energy because we don’t sleep well or the glass of wine after a stressful day at home or work. Using these ‘props’ means we continue to ignore the body’s signs that it is off balance. Tiredness is not a normal response less than halfway through the day and drinking every evening to curb the stress of a day at work doesn’t really help to deal with whatever it is about work that needs addressing. Of course many poor food and drink habits feel great in the short term but there is a long term payback in your health and your energy for life. Learn to love and respect yourself by giving your body good nourishment that keeps you feeling your best, most energised and healthy.
Start ‘parenting’ yourself now. You’re an adult that no longer needs to behave like a child when it comes to food and drink and that means creating healthy perspectives around meal times. Just as with children there should be non-negotiables, maybe it’s the processed and fast foods that don’t nourish our bodies, or always sitting down properly at a table for mealtimes. For me it’s having processed sugar and products made from processed sugar in the house. Sugar makes me feel dreadful, a real energy zapper after the blood sugar high. My skin looks terrible after eating it, I don’t sleep as well, it makes me anxious and irritable and it creates cravings for more, long after it’s been consumed. I don’t battle with this decision; it’s a simple one for me. If I start craving something sweet then I know my body is trying to tell me something, and that is usually that I am overtired and looking for a stimulant to give me a boost. A nutrient rich green juice and an early night is the answer not the sugary short term fix, that when formed as part of a regular coping mechanism will have long term health consequences.
If we are to take positive steps to being accountable for our food and drink choices then we can make some easy simple changes straight away. Eating in front of the TV puts us back to less than conscious eating habits (and why people over eat in front of the TV). If you’re going to have something sweet then have it after a meal or after protein then your body will manage the sugar release far more effectively with a less detrimental affect on the body.
Restrictive eating is not a good mindset to have, try instead to replace foods and drinks with better choices rather than restricting. Research over the last few decades has tried to evaluate the reasons for the massive increase in childhood obesity. One prominent study found that strict parents were more likely to raise overweight children, so try to move away from the all or nothing approach. As with children, education is the best way forward. My children are now 7 and 9 and I teach them to make sensible food and drink choices, I don’t tell them what to eat or drink and I certainly don’t label foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’. These habits become established as they move into adulthood so it’s vitally important to get the message right in their childhood. As an adult, you have a responsibility to educate yourself as to what you’re really eating and drinking if you don’t already know and what effect it is having on your body.
Making changes to a healthier diet is not black and white, when you ‘fall of the wagon’ and make a not-so-great choice, it’s not time to beat yourself up with shame and guilt that you can’t do it, merely steer yourself back in the right direction. It’s not an all or nothing approach when it comes to food, it’s about balance. If you’re going to have a glass of wine or a piece of a cake, make it a bloody good one. And as time goes on the balance you find will be balanced in a healthier direction.
If you imagine yourself as a child again and you’re parenting yourself would you encourage the food habits you have? Time to re-evaluate your self-bashing and self sabotaging behaviours. Creating a loving, respectful relationship with yourself is key to changing these patterned behaviours. After all doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
It is possible to overcome almost any form of self-sabotage, and people do it every day. It is a good idea to start with having an understanding around your thought patterns related to food and drinks. Food dieting terms like sins, guilty food pleasures, treats, cheat days are all linked to strong feelings rather than food itself and are not a healthy way forward to sensible eating. The diet fads of the 70’s and 80’s have a lot to answer for having created the emotional turmoil that many now have around food.
What are your self sabotaging behaviours? Are you using food to run away from your feelings or as a way to control them? Do you give yourself ‘treats’ when you’ve had a bad or good day? Until you focus on your thoughts and feelings around your behaviours they are tricky to change. Have these behaviours developed as a coping mechanism that are no longer working? Do you have a glass of wine to relax every night because your day stresses you out and you’re in a job that you find unfulfilling? As with teaching children show a level of understanding and above all be kind to yourself at all times. Is your internal conversation a kind one? If it helps, find a picture of yourself as child and stick it on your fridge and any internal thoughts or chat refer to the ‘little you’.
If you feel you need help and direction in establishing healthy food and drink habits and identifying what your self sabotaging behaviours are, then you can book me for a free 20 minute Skype consultation to discuss. Here is a link to the form where you can contact me:
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