We are excited to share this special guest post from Rebecca the Dietitian! We recognize how much the way you fuel your body influences your exercise results, and are excited to be able to bring you Rebecca’s sound eating advice to help you optimize your health, enjoy eating and get the most out of your workouts. We hope you will check out her post below and look forward to learning more from her. If you are in need of more guidance when it comes to nutrition, her comprehensive course, “Nourished & Fit” teaches you everything you need to know in order to lose weight, increase your energy, and balance your hormones (while enjoying delicious food of course)! Along with the course you will be invited to monthly group calls and a private Facebook community of amazing, supportive women. Please check out this link here to learn more (be sure to use the code ‘JSTV’ for a 30% discount).
The other day a good friend of mine (who happens to be a therapist) and I were having lunch at her place. She provided the most beautiful spread of amazing healthy food. As we thoroughly enjoyed filling up on all of the tasty options we had a very interesting discussion about why so many people struggle to make nourishing choices when it can be so incredibly enjoyable eating delicious healthy foods that help you feel amazing.
That used to be me. I would try every “diet” that came out and I would inevitably end up going back to nacho chips, diet soda, and ice cream. I wasn’t happy with how I looked or felt. My blood pressure was high. I was jealous of the people who just seemed to enjoy healthy options more than I did. I didn’t know how to make permanent, lasting lifestyle changes. I was experiencing a combination of all of the things we will be discussing below.
Here are 4 things we came up with that can prevent us from making the choice to take the best care of ourselves:
#1: Eating or Drinking to Fill a Void
For so many of us food is very emotional. Food isn’t just something that keeps us alive. We are served food when we want to celebrate, we use it to help make us feel better if we’re down, and we use it as a way to connect with others. Fat, salt, sugar, processing, and other factors play into the amount that a food will set off a cascade of reactions that actually help us physiologically feel better (temporarily).
Unfortunately when we use food to fill an emotional void (like loneliness or anger) it doesn’t actually solve the problem. Using food to avoid feelings is like trying to fill up a black hole of emotions (and that hole can fit a lot of ice cream- I speak from experience). Of course it’s ok to treat yourself to your favorite foods, but if you notice a habit of regularly indulging to numb yourself it’s probably time to dig a little bit deeper into the real issues at hand. We recommend finding a trusted therapist to help.
#2: Food Addiction
Food can be addictive. Some people have no problem eating a few chips and then putting the bag away and forgetting about it. But, for others of us it’s a very different experience. Do you feel out of control when it comes to certain foods? Do you tell yourself that you’re only going to eat a small bowl of ice cream but then polish off the container and then when you feel remorse promise yourself that you’ll never do that again only to find yourself heading to the store to get more the next day? Sugar has been shown in studies to light up the pleasure centers of your brain (which means it makes you feel great). The problem is that it’s a temporary “high” and when it’s over your baseline happiness is lowered. Then the next time you want that “high” again you need a little bit more of it. It’s a drug.
How do you handle a food addiction? First of all, know that it’s a real thing and that there’s no shame. It’s physiology. Next, you can try abstinence from your trouble foods. You might find substitutes that make you happy but don’t cause the uncontrollable feelings. For example, maybe you need to stay away from ice cream, but you would be fine making a healthy frozen blended banana dessert (less processed foods tend to be less addictive). There are also programs out there to help food addicts, like Food Addicts Anonymous. And again, finding a great therapist (ideally one who specializes in addiction) might help.
#3: Previous Bad Experience
Have you tried a bunch of diets or food shifts that haven’t worked for you? This can be traumatizing and demoralizing and it can make you feel like you want to give up. The problem is that these obviously weren’t the right plans for you. If you want to make healthy changes you have to find a way to do it that you truly enjoy. I had tried so many terrible ways to lose weight. I cut out carbs, I tried to ignore my hunger, I tried tracking everything I ate, I tried supplements, shakes, juices… I really started to feel like it was impossible. But I finally found a lifestyle that works for me.
We’re all different, but for me I figured out that eating a mostly plant-based diet with lots of nutrient-dense foods allows me to eat a lot so that I feel satisfied and energized while still maintaining a healthy weight. It allows me to eat carbs (which I love) and it balances my hormones, cuts my cravings, and meanwhile my blood pressure is under control (without medication). I now help ladies in my program learn to eat the way that I have learned to enjoy healthy food. But I would never claim that this is the only way to eat. We’re all unique and you have to find a healthy, balanced lifestyle that you enjoy.
#4: Lack of Knowledge
Finally I have to address that lifestyle change can be hard. If you follow healthy food accounts on social media, you might think you need to meal prep seven new recipes each week with 15 ingredients you’ve never heard of in order to be healthy. Or that you need a juicer, an air-fryer, and ten other new kitchen gadgets before there’s any hope for success. The truth is that most of my clients who make lasting changes keep things pretty simple, especially in the beginning. Figure out a few healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options that you know how to make that you truly enjoy and start with those. And of course, reach out for support if you need it! It took me many, many years to master this lifestyle and I still learn new things every week. I wish I had someone to teach me how to live this lifestyle who could have saved me a lot of time, effort, and drama.
There is hope. I was a “professional dieter” who was about ready to give up and if you would have told me 20 years ago that I would end up being the person who truly enjoys a healthy lifestyle I wouldn’t have believed you. You can learn to honestly enjoy healthy options. You can get healthy while feeling abundant and satisfied. You can learn to nourish yourself in a way that makes you truly happy.
If you can relate to any of this, past or present, we would love to hear about your experience. What else stops you or has stopped you from making the best decisions for yourself? If you’ve overcome these obstacles do you have any advice for others who might still be struggling?
Do you have a question or a topic you’d like Rebecca to write about? We love hearing from you, so please share with us in the comments below!
MORE HELPFUL POSTS FROM REBECCA: