Last week my youngest daughter Willow turned 1, it was lovely. The family got together in the park back in our home town and we enjoyed some family time in the sun.
It was a win for us as parents, as we remembered and organised something for her and also managed a photo. #secondchildsyndrome
And no just because we’re 'fitness people’ there wasn’t nothing but fruit skewers and salads, we enjoyed some of your usual birthday celebration favourites.
There was fairy bread (which I spent hours putting together by the way), lollies, chips and of course CAKE!
We had a Unicorn cake, because every 1 year old needs one of these right? 🙄
Sure we had plenty of healthy things to, however I certainly enjoyed indulging in some treats, but did I feel bad about it?
Nope, not one little bit…
And neither should you. ☝🏼
So yes, the personal trainer who preaches health and fitness all day every day spent a good hour hoeing down on some tiny teddies and unicorn cake… hypocritical? Not at all..
You see many of us are beginning to get way too caught up in this ‘clean eating’ fitness perfectionist world and it’s harming the perception of ourselves and our body image.
Too many people are trying to conform to this distorted reality of being healthy and perfect with your nutrition and training every single day, ironically it's not healthy at all…
We have a culture of celebrating with food, which is fine, it only becomes harmful when we hold onto 1 of 2 feelings around these instances.
1. The guilt of indulging
2. The pleasure the food provides us
Feeling guilty about indulging in these sometimes foods can be quite harmful to your emotional and mental wellbeing. I see this often, people have an indulgent weekend (e.g. Grand Final weekend) then hit the gym Monday to punish their bodies with ridiculous amounts of exercise, or they begin some crazy juice cleanse.
Guilting yourself about food, or meticulously counting every calorie every day, just encourages a viscous cycle that leads to nowhere great long term.
The other thing people tend to do is hold onto or continue to search for the pleasurable feeling that food (or alcohol) may provide for them. Alcohol is a good example for this as most instances that involve alcohol tend to be feel good celebrations like Christmas, birthdays etc. So what happens over time is we create an association between alcohol and good feelings.
Then what can happen is any moment that we feel a little down (end of a stressful week at work etc) we may search for a glass of wine or beer. It’s not so much that we enjoy the taste (I’m sure this helps) but because subconsciously we are searching for those good feelings. Finding another more empowering way to create those feelings can be a healthier alternative.
But at the same time, if you want to just sit back and enjoy the experience of having a drink and it’s not conflicting with any specific goal or effecting your health long term then go for it.
Looking at this similar situation around food we can probably all think of a moment where it seems like you just blinked and you’ve inhaled a chocolate bar or something?
This is because we haven’t paid attention to what’s happening, the experience we’re having, what sensations are occurring in our mouths or our bodies, and when any of this dissipates. We feel good once we’ve taken the first bite, and then continue to eat chasing that feeling.
But before we know it, we’ve eaten a whole jumbo kinder surprise…. ok maybe that was just me, but you get my point right?
If you feel like you tend to do this, the key is to become more mindful around meal times, paying attention to the subtle cues of your body and stopping when it feels right.
Here’s a step by step guide to understanding mindfulness around food.
Mindful eating exercise with Chocolate
This should take around 3-4 minutes. You will need a small square of chocolate
Please read and consider each step one at a time. Approach the exercise with an open mind and a gentle curiosity. There are no rights or wrongs.
1. Consider the wrapped chocolate: Does the wrapper make asound? What colour is it? What does it say? Where did it come from?
2. Open the chocolate, slowly: Do you feel a sense of anticipation, or an urge to immediately put the chocolate in your mouth?
3. What physical sensations do you have? What emotions are you feeling?Just note them.
4. Look at the chocolate: Consider its texture, colour, weight… Smell the chocolate - does the smell trigger any other senses? Where do you feel your sense of smell?
5. Place the chocolate in your mouth but DO NOT EAT!! How does it feel as it melts? Where in your mouth can you taste it? What is the consistency? What is happening with your mouth, teeth, tongue, lips as it melts?
6. Move the chocolate around your mouth: Does the area of taste change? Does the taste itself change? What is happening to the chocolate? How do you feel?
7. Swallow the chocolate: Focus on the sensation. Is there a lingering taste? How do you feel physically and emotionally? Take a little while to consider the experience.
My Nutrition Clinic~ Bond Institute of Health and Sport.
The main message here is that if you’re a healthy individual, who exercises regularly and your diet mostly consists of fresh, healthy foods and you enjoy the occasional treat, there’s no need to feel guilty about it and there’s certainly no need to over compensate and punish yourself with a week’s worth of gruelling workouts.
Food is to be mainly used for fuel, but sometimes to be enjoyed and used as part of celebrations, so long as you’re aware of that, not hold onto those feelings and it’s all within moderation there’s no need to get your knickers in a knot.
At the same time let’s not be too naive here, if you’re nutrition isn’t great and your health is being effected, then just ‘having the damn cake’ may not be the right message, some conscious and educated decisions around your nutrition may be needed.
Hope you enjoyed this read, if you did, please share it, tag your friends and pass it on..
- Coach Brad