The Lowdown On The D...
Ahhh the D. A source of endless pleasure! But also capable of causing so much pain and frustration.
Why is it that the Diet word cause us so much conflict?
Hang on… you didn’t think I meant THAT D! Awkward. Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen and move on. Try to keep your mind on task though because this is important.
As with ANYTHING pleasurable, our relationship with food and diet has become one of guilt, shame and fear. Feelings of guilt and shame around food choices are so common that they’re accepted as a normal and fine way to feel. We usually feel this way when we eat ‘bad’ foods. Guilt and shame make us feel like we need to eat better, so we move too far the other way, restricting or even banning certain foods. Thus starts a vicious, frustrating and unfulfilling cycle of yo-yo dieting.
In fact, like most things, the ideal lies somewhere in between the two extremes. Food is meant to be nourishing on many levels and not just for the nutrients it provides. Food is entertainment, food is social, food comforts us and food motivates us. Food is emotional.
If you’re eating food every day (which I really hope you are!) you’re on a diet. Unfortunately, from beautiful origins, the word has been linked to such negativity that it’s hard to discuss diet without eliciting some form of emotional response. Diet comes from the Greek “Diaita” which means “way of life”. So how is your way of life?
Your body is a complex system which processes the information and stimulus applied to it and provides output based on that. For the purposes of the rest of this article, think of yourself as a robot. What you put in directly affects the output you get.
Whatever your goals are in life – kids, travel, career, hobbies and aspirations, you need your body to be up to the task. You might not be planning to enter the 2020 Olympics (or maybe you are!) but either way, don’t underestimate the demands of daily life on your body. You want to aim for optimal performance for ease and quality of life - and preferably you want all of these for life.
Yes, making uninformed dietary decisions on the daily and then spending three weeks eating celery sticks, drinking green juice and snorting flax seed will make you thinner and you’ll probs look skinnier in your designer swimwear hanging off a yacht in Ibiza, but how good will your performance be? I’d argue it’d be pretty shit tbh. We definitely want to move away from the idea of diet being a means to fulfil a societal beauty standard that changes all the damn time anyway because THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE!
I’d like to introduce the concept of intuitive eating. Rather than absentmindedly reaching for the cookie jar or take out menu, check in with yourself. Ask your body “is this what I need and want right now” then take the time to really listen to it! Sometimes the answer will be a resounding “HELL YES! GIMMEE THE COOKIE JAR”, but I’m prepared to wager that more often than not it’s habit or a quick fix and perhaps if you really ask your body what it most wants, it’ll be a big plate of badass fruits and veggies.
You certainly don’t want to stop eating all your favourite go-to’s. Where’s the fun in that? But I do want to encourage you to practice checking in with your body to ensure it is really what you want in that moment so that the times it is, you can enjoy it more! With the added bonus of less guilt to boot.
When you eat in this way you’ll likely find you feel more in tune with yourself, more energised and more ready to handle life’s shit with a positive frame of mind.
I’ll finish by noting that if you’re very unpractised at this, or you have little food inspiration and eat a limited diet and/or a lot of junk food, this might feel challenging. If eating in the past has been an escape or tied up in any psychological undercurrents, you may need a little more help and that’s completely okay. There’s a number of excellent dieticians and food therapists out there that can help you with this.
It’s time we got off the treadmill of unfulfilling diets, banishing foods and feeling guilty and frustrated. Listen to your body. Your processing system is so wise – it knows exactly what you need.
So tune in to your insides, stick on your fave gangsta rap song at full blast and get chopping them veggies. Extra points for stank face. It’s time to live your best badass* life.
*by badass I mean providing your body with all the right things to be both emotionally fulfilled and energised for optimal performance so you can do everything you need to do in as best health and as much ease as possible. M’kay.