HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE
Health at Every Size - these are the buzz words around the internet these days. Are you healthy? Do you want to be healthier?
What is health? The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Being healthier doesn't mean losing weight. To you it might mean:
- eating better (such as reducing processed foods)
- exercising/moving more
- stopping smoking
- working on that depression
We are very happy to announce that we have a Registered Dietician on staff who will be writing our Health At Every Size series as well as answering a reader's question each month. You can read about Shari's philosophy and experience on our staff page. If you have a question for Shari, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical, health or nutritional advice.
Is food your personal retreat?
You've had a particularly rough day at work and can't wait to unwind - do you:
A. Make plans with your friends for a girls' night out.
B. Hit the gym or go for a run.
C. Go home and head straight to the fridge or pantry.
D. Cuddle up with a good book.
Does 'C' sound more like you? If yes, let me ask you a few things:
i. Would you consider that bag of chips (or any other food) as a companion?
ii. When you're feeling blue, does food offer you some comfort?
iii. Do you often feel that eating is the only 'you time' you have?
iv. When you're stressed out, does eating help you relax? Or cool down when you're angry?
v. As a child, were you ever compelled to diet? Or did you ever force yourself to go on a restrictive diet?
vi. Do you regularly work while eating?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it's very likely that food has become your wonderful, secret place of refuge. Some kind of a sanctuary where you can take a break or a special kind of friend that makes it easier for you to juggle something stressful.
Nope, you're not a weirdo - modern life is so hectic that it often squeezes out the little time we have to relax and connect with our inner selves. We've got so much on our plates (pun kind of intended) that 'relaxing' never makes it on our priority list.
Are you wondering what to do if food is indeed your sanctuary? Then, let me tell you something: you already won part of that battle by acknowledging your emotional bond with food. Now, what you could do is:
i. Explore that specific relationship you have with food.
- When did you start this relationship with food? [E.g.: Last June when you were promoted. Or ever since you started a family.]
- What made you turn to food (instead of something else)? [E.g.: Since you landed that new job, all you seem to do is work - the only time you can breathe a bit is when you're eating. Or that new job is really stressful and eating makes things seem easier. Or maybe you're the type of person who is always taking care of others but has no time for yourself?
ii. Ask yourself what would happen if you lost that sanctuary (if you tried to stop turning to food when you feel bored, tired, irritated, depressed, down etc.)?
- How would you feel? [E.g.: Like you lost a friend.]
- Would you miss it? If so, why? [E.g.: You'd miss that soothing/ relaxing/ energizing effect eating has on you.]
iii. Can you build a new refuge that doesn't include food? Something that will help you overcome the need to eat whenever you have to deal with a specific emotion?
- Let's say you usually eat while working because that helps you stress less. Do you think trying out a stress-reducing strategy before starting to work would help? Some of my clients found it helpful to exercise a bit (anything they enjoy) before tackling something that usually stresses them out. Others tried going for a walk first and squeezing a ball while working when they felt like munching.
- If eating is a way to get some 'you' time, what about finding some time to reconnect with yourself? Maybe you could try watching the sunrise or sunset? Or perhaps you could try going to a park and just sit on a bench, thinking about how the grass feels under your feet or how the air feels against your skin. Deeply and slowly inhale and exhale while concentrating on how your surroundings make you feel. Or just sit by a window in your house and observe the outside world.
- If you need to unwind, why not spend some quality time in your bath tub? Remember to get yourself some exotic bubble bath and scented candles.
Finding a new sanctuary will require time and perseverance - you may need to try a few things before you find YOUR refuge but you will eventually get there. The road to that new sanctuary may be long but hey you'll re-discover yourself along the way.
Submitted by: Shari