I can remember myself this time 3 months ago. I had got through the first week of the F45 challenge without a slip up. I had overcome my headaches, tried all the meals in the meal plan and lost a couple of kgs along the way too. I was feeling utterly fantastic and unbeatable! I had gone away with friends and stuck to the egg white omlettes and quinoa salads with kale.
I thought I had finally got to the point where I no longer thought about or craved all the ‘wrong’ things. I finally felt like I had total control. Little did I know that this feeling comes and goes and while it stuck with me for a good 5 weeks, I begun to lose control again. This word ‘control’ is what got me reading and came across what a lot of people call ‘mindfulness’.
We often don’t eat to nourish our bodies but instead fulfil or satisfy our cravings. I wrote a post a few weeks back about loving our bodies and wanting to fuel it with all the right things. It’s funny because as a teacher, I would always talk to kids about ‘fuelling’ our bodies with the right things rather than the sugary things but should practice what I preach!
While the F45 Challenge had a very strict meal plan, I quite often told myself that it should be a temporary thing and I should eat and feel like this ALL the time. Sticking to this strict ‘diet’ was what got me thinking about my feelings about food. The thought processes that would go on about what I could and couldn’t have, in hind sight, is the one thing that let me down. I would constantly find myself thinking about food and deprived myself of certain things which straight away set up an emotional connect to food. I felt happy when I was eating the ‘right’ things but really negative and hard on myself when I ate the ‘wrong’ things.
Have you ever wondered why people crave sweet or fatty foods? Is it really us craving something or do we use it as a deterrent for something else? Are we avoiding something? An emotion? A task? A negative thought or thoughts? For me I can say all of the above. Constantly doubting myself would play havoc on my hormones and emotional levels – that emotional connection to food. What do we do in response to these emotions? Why? The effect they have on our body.
When we eat, particularly sweet, sugary or fatty foods, the level of our natural feel-good hormone, serotonin, increase. This lowers our stress hormone, cortisol, giving us a temporary lift in our mood. What is also happening in our bodies after eating these foods is that our bodies release glucose causing our blood sugar to spike giving us lots of energy. After the glucose is distributed we crash twice as fast and feel fatigued, hungry and irritated so what do we do in response to this? We crave and eat sugary foods to pick us back up and the cycle continues.
Reading all of this has made me realise how important to is to ‘listen’ to my body. While I haven’t got there yet, I want to be able to ‘listen’ to my body and if I think I am craving or feeling like something, question myself as to why. I want to eat naturally and not have to ‘diet’. Not consider foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but as fuel or source of nourishment for my body. Enjoy the things I eat and not restrict myself so that those feelings of guilt creep in. Remove that emotional connection so that I never feel guilty about anything I eat, whether it be chocolate or nuts.