I've always tried to stay away from the whole mindset part of nutrition... it's very individual and it differs so very massively from person to person but I'm feeling kind of reflective so I'm just gonna go in.
I run nutritional support alongside my classes and PT sessions and one thing that comes up time and time again is that feeling of 'missing out', of feeling under social pressure to eat/drink otherwise we are 'not fun' and feeling that the food we eat is somehow out of our own control. The focus of my nutrition groups is about learning how to fuel the body well... some people may want to lose weight/gain muscle but essentially the practice is the same. Learning how to appreciate our body for the cool stuff it can do (and therefore fuel it well), rather than constantly judging ourselves on how we look.
I send them out weekly emails, sometimes factual, sometimes just rambling.... this blog article was one of the emails that seemed to help a bit, so I decided to share it with you all!
I was a yoyo dieter as a teenager... I was a size 8 and I thought I was fat, because I'm broad and I always have been..... I used to eat sticks of celery for about 10 hours of the day....... and then shove a McDonalds and my Mum's dinner in my face after college. At uni, I spent 1-2 years with a touch toward bulimic tendencies, eating a normal amount of food and then sticking my fingers down my throat. At the time it made me feel better. I was skinny. My boss at the time commented on how skinny I had become, I thought she was being a bitch. Go figure.
Then my eating started to 'normalise'.... but when I say 'normalise' I mean, I ate in a way that most people would find socially acceptable... I ate salads sometimes, I ate fruit and veg, but if I ever went out I never said no. I always ate what people offered me, I drank alcohol when it was expected, I never wanted to offend people by not eating their food and I never wanted to 'miss out' by not taking another flapjack or not getting something from the Drive Thru even if I wasn't really hungry. I wasn't overweight... but I was slim because I did so much dancing, not because I fuelled myself very well.
When I did my first ever prep about 5 years ago I felt like I was missing out ALL THE TIME. I was hungry. I was miserable. For the entire prep. I remember nearly crying because my friend drove me through the Drive-Thru because he wanted some chips. I also remember smelling my girlfriend at the time's breath because she had eaten chocolate cake and I wanted some so bad.
Roll on 5 years and I am on prep again (for my third cycle). Apart from this time (similarly to the time before), I don't feel like that at all. At all. I don't feel like I am missing out. I don't feel like I can't go to something just because I can't eat the food everyone else is eating. I don't feel sad if I go for lunch and my friends have chips & a burger and I have a chicken salad with no dressing.
The difference between now and then is mindset. There are lots of things that different about how I feel and how I have reacted mentally:
* I have accepted that everything about this prep is my choice. I can choose not to do it. I can choose to step out. Because it is my choice, it means I am in control. It means I don't feel jealous of other people's food because I have chosen this.I have realised that whilst I LOVE eating, and I LOVE eating tasty food, it isn't happiness. It isn't friendship. It isn't how much I love my Mum. It isn't how I feel about myself. It's just food. And it tastes frigging awesome, but it has no reflection of how much I love being with my family, my friends and in my own company.
* Food will always be there. I am prepping until the end of July.... and then I have until the following March (when I will no doubt start another prep) to eat all the tasty food that doesn't fit my current macros. Nandos chicken thighs are not going anywhere. Mr Whippy Ice-cream will still be there in August. A sharing platter of nachos will not be extinct.
*I like healthy food. I didn't used to... I used to eat it, but it was more of a task. I've spent probably about the last 7-8 years changing the way I look at food. I no longer gaze lovingly into the Krispy Kreme cabinet wondering if I can fit one in. I get actually excited that its time for my half a grapefruit. Sad w*nker 😂.
* Alongside the realisation that the food doesn't have any bearing on my personal relationships, is the realisation that I can appreciate the simple things.... without falling foul of the clever food manufacturers who make a heady cocktail of fats and sugar in a single product (not something that happens in nature at all ever, which is part of what makes junk food so addictive).
* I don't feel guilty for the food I eat off-plan. It is my decision to do that and it was a conscious decision. It is just food. It has no bearing on the rest of my day. Like I said before, mindset with food is different for everyone and you will all find the methods and ways that connect the dots for you.
For me, it's just all about being able to enjoy what I eat (even when it's straight from the earth), being able to have fun with the people I love without it having to revolve around eating so much I feel rough for days and not feeling guilty when I do want to eat something 'off-plan'. Food can be so unbelievable controlling for some of us..... we say things like 'I just couldn't help myself', 'It was looking at me...', 'I didn't want to be rude so I ate 2 slices', 'It's just what we do on the weekend'. Well, wouldn't it be nice if we actually felt like we had control over our own lives for once, instead of being at the mercy of urges for food and social pressures from other people..... it's OK to want to fuel our body well, it is after all the only one we have got and we would like it be fit for purpose and to last a long time.... and preferably feel like a ninja throughout it's entire job.