In my last blog post, I talked about how women’s relationship with food became so fragmented and broken, especially for multi-ethnic women over 40, like myself. In this post, we’re going to go through a series of questions and exercises that can help begin to heal that relationship.
So how do you begin to fix your relationship with food?
The first thing you have to do is…stop.
Stop reading books, stop reading blogs, unfollow all the so-called social media gurus. Just stop. And once you’ve taken a break from it all, and had a chance to breathe, you can then come back and begin to learn anew.
Pause here if you like…If you do decide to keep reading however, you should still take that break, and come back to this again at a later date. Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be here waiting for you.
Now that you’ve taken some time to clear your head, we can go back to the basics. To begin, you have to ask yourself some simple questions:
“What are my health goals?”, and “What do I want my relationship with food to be?” I’m sure you can think of several goals with relative ease.
- I want to have more energy.
- I want to change my body composition; i.e. lose body fat, and gain more muscle
- I want to get better quality sleep.
Your list can be as long or as short as you like, just be sure these goals matter to you. After you’ve made this list, then you’re going to want to write down your daily routine so that you can figure out where you are in relation to those goals.Over the course of (at least) three days, keep track of your daily routine, and note your patterns.
Write down the time you wake up, your activities throughout the day, write down what you eat and when, write down everything you do. You want your notes to be very detailed. For example, you want to write down where you are when you eat, the amount of time you spent doing so (it can even help to write down your thoughts and feelings during these times). This exercise will help you identify your habits and patterns, especially where your relationship to food is concerned.
Next, examine your notes critically, but without judgment. Ask yourself questions like:
- What do I like, and not like, to eat?
- What are things I do and do not want to eat?
- When do I typically find myself eating?
- Am I actually hungry when I eat?
- Do I like to cook? Why, or why not?
- Where do I purchase most of my food?
Now ask yourself whether your consumption patterns lend themselves to your stated health goals, or hinder them? Oftentimes, our patterns become so unconsciously repetitive we often don’t realize we do things or eat in the way we do.
Next, take stock of your general lifestyle. Ask yourself questions like:
- How do I spend the majority of my time throughout the day?
- How active am I?
- Do I want to be more, or less physically active?
- What type of physical activities do I enjoy?
- What type of physical activities do I not enjoy?
- How do I feel when I am more and less active?
The next set of questions you need to ask yourself:
- Why do I want to be healthier, and what does that look like for me?
- Will becoming healthier improve my quality of life?
- What are my limitations (money, time, age, illness, obesity, access to something, etc.)?
- What can – and am – I willing to do to overcome some – or all – of my limitations?
After that, ask yourself:
- What will it cost me if I don’t make changes to my lifestyle and eating habits?
- Are the changes I’m making sustainable for the foreseeable future?
- After I’ve made these changes, am I willing to permanently maintain them? If not, what am I willing to do?
- Can I do this by myself or do I need help?
Asking yourself these questions will help you understand where you’re at in your relationship with food, and your overall health.
How do you begin to fix your relationship with food?
To begin, you’re going to have to change your beliefs and behaviors; you’re going to have to commit to yourself in a new way of eating and interact with your food in a conscious manner. And…it’s going to be hard as hell. You’re going to have to learn more about the foods you eat and their impact on your body. A process you’ve already begun by reading this blog post.
You’re going to have to allocate some of your income to higher-quality foods; foods that actually nourish your body. The good news is that if you ditch the number of times you eat out each month, and perhaps even some of the drinks you get at happy hour, you’ll have extra cash to put toward these higher-quality foods.
You’re also going to have to spend some amount of time preparing what you eat. Fortunately, there are countless recipes available online, as well as cooking videos on YouTube that can make preparation less confusing and painful.
No excuses. Just put that sh*t on the shelf. Instead, think about what you’re gaining by doing all this, and ask yourself what it will cost if you don’t spend more time taking care of yourself? Enormous medical bills and lots of pills later on? Less time with your friends and family? Diabetes? Heart disease?
I know it’s hard to overcome the cultural narrative that has been playing over and over our entire lives. But you have to abandon those messages in order to see your own beauty. Trust me, you can do this.
Want to learn more about what your body actually needs to thrive, it’s not that complicated. Grab a copy of my book, Love Food, Love Yourself.