If you grew up anything like me you grew up hearing the phrases “Finish your meal!” Or “Clean your plate!” My grandpa who I was very close to as a child before he passed away had the saying, “Eat your whole plate and it’ll give you chest hair!” (I feel like all grandpas have weird sayings like that, which kind of freak you out). And so you did. You grew up thinking you always had to finish your entire plate, even when you were full.
Our bodies start life already knowing how to eat intentionally. Babies cry when they are hungry, not when they are craving something sweet. Because all they know is “I need this to stay alive.” Kids will often leave a plate half full because the trigger in their mind that tells them they are full goes off. But parents see that as “My child just wants to go play.” Instead of realizing they really might actually be full.
If you grew up anything like me you also viewed food as a reward. If you got all A’s you could go out for a special treat. No dessert until you eat all your veggies. How about “You worked hard today! Here’s a glass of wine!” Or “Great job! Here’s a cookie!” We have related food to happiness. And don’t get me wrong a good slice of pizza really does make me happy but we shouldn’t be relying on food for happiness.
I always try to keep it real with you all so with that being said, this next portion of writing is JUDGEMENT FREE! STOP READING IF YOU’RE GOING TO JUDGE. Even personal trainers have hard days.
This past week has been a really hard week for me concerning food choices. I had an amazing weekend celebrating my best friends bachelorette weekend. The weekend was filled with wine, brownies, and food. With every bite I took I could only think to myself, “How will I burn this off?” Or “should I stop eating? Nobody else is eating.” It was exhausting. When I returned home one of my other best friends who was there texted me the sweetest message…
Wow. Okay I thought I was being discrete about it. Here is a side note: people actually do notice when you’re incredibly insecure about something. But she is right. Looking good or having a nice body is only a perk. If you’re a smoking hot babe with a six pack and flawless skin, but you’re mean, unapproachable, and selfish you won’t have much going for you. Think about your best friend. You aren’t friends with that person because they are pretty. You’re friends with them because of who they are as a person.
Last night I texted her again in a fluster saying. “Help. My body is too tired to workout, I feel sick, I’ve been eating like a crazy woman, and I have so much pressure to look good just because I’m a trainer.” She told me the reason why I wasn’t feeling good is because I am constantly changing up my diet. I’m not consistent with my eating and I over think everything I eat! This is all stuff I already knew because I tell it to my clients all the time but I really just needed to hear it from someone else.
She reminded me the importance of INTENTIONAL EATING. What is intentional eating you ask? It’s listening to the internal signals your body gives you when it comes to eating. Going back to my first paragraph, we are born knowing how to eat correctly. It is over time we receive these external messages that disrupt it. “Don’t eat carbs” “Stop eating after 6pm”, “Only consume X Amount of calories per day” the list goes on. When we give into all these external factors we begin to forget what our bodies are naturally good at. There’s been so much research done over the years that say diets actually don’t work because of the extreme effects it has on us mentally and emotionally.
So here are 4 steps to teach you HOW to eat intentionally:
1. Food is fuel.
Remind yourself that EVERYTHING you put into your body is going to effect it in some way or another. Wether that be good or bad you will be effected. Eat a whole bag of Doritos, you’ll be sluggish, bloated, and hungry in 5 minutes. Eat a full salad with protein and healthy fats, you’ll feel full, focused, and you’ll have a clearer mind. Food is what keeps you moving and alive. It’s not a reward and it most certainly is not a punishment.
2. Listen to yourself.
Maybe your problem is you can’t stop snacking or eating. Ask yourself before grabbing that second helping, “Am I actually hungry? Or am I bored?” If your problem is that you don’t eat and you restrict yourself, then tell yourself, “My body is telling me I am hungry. I choose to show it love by eating healthy food that will sustain me.”
I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I understand how it is. At my skinniest I remember staring at food trying to imagine how it would taste, when really my body was BEGGING me to just eat the dang sandwich!
Your body will never steer you wrong, you just have to listen to it.
3. Cook your own meals.
We really have no idea what is going into the food restaurants give us when you truly think about it. We could order a kale and quinoa salad thinking it’s healthy but little do we know they added a ton of sugar in the dressing just to make us come back for more. When you take the time to cook your own meals you are in control of what goes into it. You can visually see how much your adding and it also prevents you from stuffing your face right as you walk in the door after a long day, because now you have to prepare a meal.
4. Affirm yourself
I’m a huge affirmation advocate. I really believe we have the power to speak goodness into our lives. Remind yourself each morning if you have to,”I love my body and I am going to treat it with love.” This may be extreme for some of you but if you’re anything like me and you struggle with body image, eating obsessions, and food anxiety this works. Remind yourself that you have ONE body and the way you treat it depicts the future of how you will feel 5,20,40 years from now.
Eating disorders and food obsessions are real. And unlike any other addiction you can’t just avoid food or cut food out cold turkey. It takes practice, you will have bad days and good days. But each day is a blessing to become better. Tell yourself that today you start eating intentionally not impulsively, and not to deprive yourself.
Most people assume anybody with an eating disorder is either anorexic or bulimic. That’s not the case. Eating disorders are when a person is obsessed with food. To the point of it completely consuming their lives and effecting their day to day basis.
Some non tradition eating disorders include:
-obesity (yes, over eating is just as compulsive as under eating)
-Binge eating (eating copious amounts of food in a short period of time)
-Purging without binging (throwing up or taking laxatives)
-Restrictive food intake disorder (when you absolutely will not allow yourself to eat something (sugar, gluten, fat), not because you’re allergic but because you think one bite will make you fat.)
-Body dysmorphia (something I struggled with for years. Thinking my body looked completely different than it actually looked and fully obsessing over how to change my appearance.)
-Orthorexia (the obsession with eating only ‘healthy’ foods)
-Exercise addiction (yes some people are obsessed with exercise. This is when you spend more time In the gym than you do anywhere else. This is veery dangerous. Nobody should spend longer than 1hour in the gym 4-5x a week).
If you feel like any of these characteristics might be where you are headed then I advice you to please please seek help. Each and every one of these are incredibly detrimental to your health. Not only physically but mentally and emotionally. They are more common than you think so pay attention to your friends. Find a good friend to keep you accountable and check in with you.
-check yourself before your wreck yourself-
Maybe you don’t obsess over it to the point where it’s a disorder. Maybe you just get really insecure at times or anxious. That is normal. But it’s important to identify those feelings and remember that you are okay. Take the time to address those feelings and remove those negative thoughts from your heard before it turns into something worse.
Most importantly, pray. Ask that God will give you a sense of peace over food. Seek what God truly wants from your heart. Pray that God can take away the pain food brings you and replace it with His love. You were created BEAUTIFULLY AND PERFECTLY in his image. Remember that. Every day is a process. I am the first to admit that. Which is why I chose to blog about it! I want whoever reads this to know that you are not alone. I’m right here along side you all.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.