A real passion of mine is food – no surprises there then! I also have a passion for using food medicinally to help relieve chronic and other health conditions, in cancer care as well as for health and vitality. I know that just small changes can make a huge difference to your health and energy levels.
A recurring theme for clients coming to see me is the issue of food, diets and healthy eating. What comes across clearly to me is that people are confused – they want to eat food that’s healthy, nourishing and nurturing for their bodies but they read and hear so much about what’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to eat don’t know where to start. Just think about the huge variety of ‘diets’ that claim to offer amazing health benefits, or the warnings that certain foods are bad for us, advice from well meaning friends who’ve found the ‘perfect’ diet, as well as the slimming diets that promise amazing weight loss – not to mention what the glossy photos promise in the way of happiness, glamour, wealth, love… Is it any wonder that we lose motivation to change our eating habits, or worse still, become so confused about the whole issue of food that fears and phobias develop. The situation can become even more complicated if you are the main person in your family doing the cooking and feeding your family – “what do I feed my children?” “is it bad for them, am I damaging my children?”
Time to take a deep breath and get back to basics and remind ourselves what ‘normal’ eating is…….
What is Normal Eating?
I like this explanation from the Ellyn Satter Institute:
“Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some biscuits or cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also under-eating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible and varied, in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger and your proximity to food.” .
Ok, let’s be clear that I’m not condoning eating everything in sight giving no thought to your health! I am however, wholeheartedly and passionately encouraging you to make a conscious choice to ENJOY your food – food can be a powerful sensual experience that engages all of your senses, allow yourself to be seduced by the sight, smell, taste, and touch of it – savour the flavour, texture and the appearance, make time to prepare your food with care and love, give yourself permission to enjoy your food. If you do decide to make changes to your diet – either to eliminate certain foods or just eat less then don’t be too hard on yourself. Slip-ups happen and are okay! Think of trying to push a cart up a hill. If it slips a bit, and you catch it and keep pushing, you haven’t lost much. If it slips and you let it slide, you’ll have to go back down the hill and start all over again. It’s the same in weight loss. If you eat the chocolate cake at lunch and keep pushing, you haven’t lost much. If you let the chocolate cake kill the day for you, you’re back at the bottom of the hill… Accept the tiny slip and keep pushing.
A good place to start….
Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom. Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savour and taste. Acknowledge your responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgement. Learn to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.
Here are a few easy things you can do that will make a huge difference and you’ll notice the positive benefits very quickly:
- The most important first step – get your bowels moving! Ideally, at least once a day! The other tips will help you do this….
- Every morning have a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon, this is great for purifying the blood and a good tonic for your liver. It’s also great for relieving constipation and bloating.
- Eat more whole foods (food in its natural state), fresh fruit and vegetables, grains & pulses, nuts and seeds (these are great as snacks).
- Decrease your caffeine intake. Switch to good quality herbal teas (don’t confuse with fruit teas) such as camomile, peppermint, ginger and green tea. The medicinal and therapeutic benefits of herbs are well known.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, refined sugary foods, highly processed and manufactured foods.
- Decrease the amount of carbohydrate (bread, pasta, cakes) in your diet – favour more good proteins (salmon/tuna, eggs, chicken) natural fats and oils (olive, sesame, coconut).
- Take good quality multivitamin and vitamin C supplements.
- Drink more water. Water helps transports nutrients and oxygen around your body, helps detoxify and protect your body. Your brain consists of 90% water. If your brain doesn’t get enough water you can experience headaches, lack of concentration and fatigue.
Everything I’ve learned over the years as a therapist and Life Coach I’ve tried to include in my life; slowly but surely changing the way I think about things, the way I deal with stress, the way I care for myself and those around me, but the biggest change I’ve made is in what I eat. Like most people I work hard and have a family as well as juggling all of the other demands life – it hasn’t always been easy to make those changes. I’m in the business of helping others change so you’d think it would be easy for me… nope! Still a blissfully happy chocolate addict – I’m just a more mindful one 😉 I can honestly say that changing my diet is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If I can change then anyone can!