When we are following a certain way of eating, one of the biggest obstacles that stands between us and success is the feeling of being limited by the new ‘rules’.
💓Maybe you are trying to lose weight.
💓Maybe you are following a particular nutrition plan to support a health situation eg auto-immune disease, menopause or fatigue recovery work.
💓Maybe you are simply trying to uplevel yourself and nurture your body with beautiful food on a whole new level.
The truth is that changing what you eat can be one of the biggest challenges out there.
Think about the last time you tried to lose weight: it’s all about ‘counting the calories’ or tracking the food groups. It often involves logging everything you eat. You’re allowed to eat this but not that. You can combine these but not those. You can eat gluten but not dairy. In other words, there are a whole lot of new rules to follow.
On top of that, you often have to give things up: little rituals that you love e.g. a glass of wine in the evening or marmalade on toast for breakfast. Not to mention a whole new level of being organised, planning ahead and making extra preparations for those special occasions eg long car journeys.
All of which can make ‘eating healthily’ feel like a full time job, not to mention sucking the joy out of eating.
Why is it so hard to change how you eat?
The way we eat and our habits around food are often created over a long period of time and come from a huge variety of influences and circumstances.
Our early experiences play a huge part in our relationship to food. Did you grow up in a family where people sat around the table to eat? Was food considered an important part of life? Was food used as reward/ punishment? Did you grow up in a household where people cooked or was it more convenience food?
Another big challenge can be the kind of food you have access to, how much time you have to spend on food prep, and whether you can cook or not.
Some of us are emotional eaters, we use food to take care of challenging emotions, be that depression, boredom, anger or grief. Some of us have a very strained relationship with food, maybe even an eating disorder.
Then there is the fact that food is everywhere: you can’t avoid it or escape it! And most of us eat two or three times a day, so that’s a lot of food choices to take care of!
So the first thing to be very clear on, is that to change how and what you eat, no matter how important or urgent your reasons might be, means coming up against all the rules, customs and practicalities of why you eat the way you do! Which means that it takes a bit of compassion, patience and persistence to find your way through to a new way of eating and nourishing your health with fantastic food.
Food as medicine
Food is one of the most powerful medicines we have. Food can be anti-inflammatory, gut healing, hormone balancing, detoxifying, energy giving, anti-cancer, anti-ageing and profoundly healing.
There is a famous quote by Anne Wigmore that says:
“Food can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”
So anytime we want to use food to improve our health, whether that is because you simply want to lose weight, or you are working with someone like me to make a huge shift in your health and wellbeing, there is always a ‘food as medicine’ component to the work.
When we want to change how we eat, it is not enough to have a new set of ‘food rules’,
It is not only the information that we need, we need a new way of thinking about food.
A new way of thinking: food freedom
One of the things I teach my clients to help them succeed in adapting their nutrition, is to think of food as a form of abundance.
This takes a bit of practice but it is one of the most powerful strategies to succeed in establishing your new food habits. You can use this approach, whether you are flying solo eg trying to lose weight, or whether you are working with a functional medicine specialist like me.
Food as an abundance practice involves learning to think about food in a whole new way and ask better questions. Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat and the changes you will need to make, it is about focusing on the opportunities.
💓 I can enjoy my food even more
💓 I can have fun and be even more playful.
💓 I could embrace this as an adventure
💓 I could make new discoveries.
💓 I will learn more about the power of food and that’s exciting.
💓 It is about indulging your senses and tapping into the pleasures food can bring
💓 I will love my food and my food will love me.
Ready to give it a go?
My 7 favourite ideas and concepts to create your own food abundance practice
The list of food abundance mindsets and practices are endless, and in my clinical work we always create a plan which is tailored to that individual client, because we are all unique.
Here are some of my favourites and the ones that most of my clients enjoy:
Stay connected to your WHY? Why is it important to you to change how and what you eat? What difference will it make to you in the longer term, for real? And what do you stand to gain from your health being that way instead of what it is like right now? Think about this, write it down, make a list of your top 5 reasons why this is important to you and stick it somewhere you can read it every day.
Stop looking for the results. Focus only on the steps you need to take to move forward and stop checking to see if the results are there yet. This is the equivalent of the kid in the back of the car calling out every 5 minutes “Are we there yet?” It’s annoying and will do nothing to bolster your confidence, and simply make your cranky. Instead lean into the process and if you are going to ‘count’ anything, count each action step you take in the right direction.
Focus on what you CAN eat, and not on what you can’t. Once you understand the new ‘ food rules’ your very first task is to make a list of what you CAN eat. List every single food you can think of, and you will be amazed at the sheer amount of choice you have, even within the ’new rules’. Then plan your meals from there.
Paying close attention when you eat anything. This means sitting down to eat. Don’t eat if you are in a hurry/distressed or multitasking. If you are going to eat, make it count: so sit down, set the table, take the time to eat the food you’ve got on your plate, and really focus on the taste of your food.
Chew your food really really REALLY well. Most of us hardly chew our food, but instead bolt it straight down. This means that for most of the time food is not in your mouth for long enough to even really taste it! You will be amazed at how much more you can taste when you start really chewing your food, and it will massively increase your enjoyment of your food. It will also take longer to eat your food, which is a good thing, as it takes about 20 mins for the ‘satiety’ signal to register and so it’s a great way to protect yourself from volume eating.
Focus on the pleasure the food is giving you. Does it taste nice, smell nice, look nice? Allow your sense to be stimulated. In your mind, consciously try to name the flavors, textures, sounds, as if you are a writer . Just looking for the best word to describe what you are experiencing will deepen your experience of your food.You could really go to town on this!
Get out of those food ruts. Most of us tend to eat the same things over and over.. This is your chance to explore: make new discoveries and try new things. New flavours, foods, recipes, new places to go shopping for food. Go for variety: of colour, texture, flavour, herbs and spices. Discover foods you have never tried before. Maybe try a new recipe, a new cuisine. Maybe a new technique eg buy a whole fish form your local market and learn to prepare it at home
New food adventures to set you free
Wherever you are in your food adventures, whether you just want to uplevel the quality of your nutrition and self care, lose weight or use food as medicine to tackle a major health issue, I hope you are now inspired to see this as an opportunity, and not as a ‘punishment’ or a limitation.
Let me know in the comments which food abundance practice you are going to try first!