3 Ways to Improve Your Relationship…..with Food (Lessons from Yoga)
Are you tired of always fighting, struggling, feeling guilty, becoming frustrated and never feeling like you are getting it right…..with food?
Like personal relationships with others, our relationship with food can sometimes be amazing and other times, leave us wanting more. The following tips may sound like the world’s worst and/or most obvious advice on Valentine’s Day, but as you look a little closer, you may find some takeaways that not only improve your relationship with food, but also with loved ones!
We are trained to have expectations and to focus strongly on outcomes in life. We spend much of our time worrying or wondering about what is going to happen, rather than what is happening in the present moment.
For example, becoming so focused on the OUTCOME of limiting calories to lose weight, we lose sight of enjoying each meal as it comes and the experience of eating the nourishing food that our body needs. In our intense focus on outcomes, we eat meal after meal mindlessly and get frustrated when the outcome never happens. We have the expectation that if we are “good”, and don’t eat “bad” food, that the scale will move, and that will solve all problems and bring happiness. Yet, attaching good and bad to food, leads us down a path of shame, guilt and frustration and now we are stuck in a negative cycle.
Past or current experiences may have led us down a path of using food for something other than nourishment. So, part of this concept is un-attaching those experiences from food, and taking in only what we need for nourishment, not using food as a way to numb feelings. Becoming unattached, living in the present, enjoying what is in front of us, is one of the first steps toward optimal health and happiness.
The same could be said for relationships. I am by no means a relationship expert, but it’s interesting to think about how we could apply this concept. We sometimes feel the need to please or be praised by others (outcome), but when we can let go of that and just give the world what we have to offer (live in the present) and take joy in that action (rather than the outcome), we can live more passionate and fulfilling lives. Life is better when you are not constantly waiting for someone else’s approval, right? So, this Valentine’s Day, drop expectations, live in the moment, enjoy the act of just being with them.
“Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction.” – Krishna
Duh, right? Maybe you are not in a violent relationship with someone, but consider this for a moment – are you violent with yourself? Do you have negative thoughts about your body or your food choices? Do you feel guilty or “bad” if you choose a food that isn’t considered “healthy”? Could your relationship with food be considered violent?
I would argue that many of us answered yes to at least one of those questions. Be kind and fully assess what you need each day. Consider asking yourself, what do I want to eat, and also consider what do I need, in order to nourish my body. Acknowledging what your desires are when it comes to food is just as important as choosing food that is nourishing. Part of being non-violent, is not abusing food in an attempt numb our feelings, and not judging ourselves based on our food choices. Food is what it is… it’s not “bad” or “good”, it’s just food. Kind of like a knife, it’s not inherently good or bad….it’s all in how you use it. (Yikes, that wasn’t very Valentine-sy, but you get my point, right?)
Did you know that non violent, loving thoughts are truly therapeutic – like a drug (dopamine)? The happiness that comes from these loving thoughts is contagious (spreads to others as well as improving your own immune system). So write yourself a love note before you write one to your significant other and watch the joy spread!
By choosing non-violent thoughts about ourselves (and others), it allows us to heal (physically and emotionally) so that we can live a full, amazing life and also positively influence others around us!
Brace yourself, this next one is tough……
Gaining a better understanding of why you may need to make changes for your health is the first step in truthfulness. Sometimes the truth doesn’t feel good right away. Maybe you have a recent diagnosis of diabetes, or maybe you have been struggling with managing your diabetes for a long time. You know you need to do something, but it’s easier to ignore it. Really go deep here, be truthful with yourself and ask “What will happen if I don’t change?”. The goal is not to scare yourself into changing, but to face the truth of your current actions. Don’t stop at a basic answer of “Because I want to be healthy” or “I don’t want to get complications of a disease”. Keep asking why, several times, until you can really drill it down. Once you know your truth or your “why”, then it’s easier to make decisions that align.
Are you mindlessly eating your day away and not dealing with the truth about your feelings (stress, anger, frustration, fear, sadness). Be thoughtful with your food choices and honest about what you want and need. Telling yourself, that you stop at fast food 3 times a week because you don’t have time to cook is not being truthful. There is probably a deeper reason for that, maybe meal planning isn’t a priority (or you don’t know where to start). Maybe you have not MADE time for meal prep, because you’ve had trouble valuing yourself and your needs, and you are just doing what you need to do to get by. This truth is hard. Start with the excuses that you make, this is usually where we find the need for more truth. Whew, that was kind of a heavy one – deep breath here, in and out…OK, that feels better.
Being truthful with people is a no brainer, right? We should tell the truth, especially to our loved ones – sometimes it’s easier said than done. First, we have to consider our own truth. Do you have a fear of others accepting you as you are, if you were to show your true self? Trying to be someone you’re not can be exhausting. Another consideration in relationships is speaking your truth in a thoughtful manner that has purpose and does not cause harm, particularly with our loved ones. Whoah….this still feels a little heavy. So, let’s end on a lighter note, OK?
Bottomline: These 3 lessons are quite simple in nature, but no one ever said simple was easy. Maybe not all of these applied to you, but hopefully there was a nugget in there you could relate to.
Here are a couple actions to get you started.
1. Start by being present in the moment. Look around, notice smells, scenery, the feeling of freezing temperatures on your skin.
2. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge what great things your body does for you. Take a moment and write a few down.
3. Face your truths by looking at the excuses you make regularly. Write down one excuse you make on a regular basis, then next to it write the following statements.
Excuse: I don’t have time to exercise, I’m too busy.
My Truth statement: I feel like people would stare at me (and not in a good way) if I went to the gym.
Non-Violence statement: My body is amazing, it carries me through a busy work day, allows me to take care of my children or grandchildren, and no one can carry all the groceries into the house in one trip like I can!
Non-Attachment Statement: In this moment, I am choosing to go to Zumba (or whatever you like) and dance like no one is watching, because I deserve to have fun and enjoy life now! I was not put on this earth to please others or be praised for my dancing skills.
Food for Thought: When we treat ourselves well and love ourselves it shines through to others.
You are an amazing human being – treat yourself well by choosing high quality, nourishing food, because you deserve it! Sending love to you this V-Day!
Check out my facebook page (@Healthy Solutions with Angela) for a Valentine’s Day Dark Chocolate Meditation. Be sure to like the page so you can get updates.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!
Regular Dose of Diabetes Smarts
Even though diabetes is present in your life, there is hope. Hope that harmony between you and diabetes can be attained.
Angela Manderfeld, RD
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