Words by Frou Williams.
We live in an age where we're inundated with information and food readily available, hundreds of different dietary systems, plans and 'quick fixes'.
It's no great shock that we feel confused and overwhelmed.
It's no surprise that we don't know where to start when it comes to nutrition.
1. What's in Nutrition?
Nutrition is not just about the food we eat and the supplements we take. There is no one size fits all. There's no one absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt best diet for everyone. Shall I repeat that? There's no one absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt best diet for everyone. Humans have evolved to do well under all sorts of dietary conditions. In order to find a nutrition plan that works for you, you need to look at what you want to accomplish, how you live and what's really important to you.
2. Why isn't Nutrition Black and White?
Our modern society is burdened with many different eating challenges:
Some of us walk around, day in and day out inside a food prison
As children, we're told not to play with our food. But in doing so, when did we lose the childlike innocence of fun, imagination and play when it comes to our food? How did we become so militant about our food?
3. What does the Digital Sphere have to do with Nutrition?
You only have to open Instagram or Facebook to see descriptions and pictures of what people are eating, why we should be eating X and how abs are made in the kitchen. We are bombarded with images of the 'perfect' *ahem* body and quite frankly this can be a little, if not seriously overwhelming. Of course, we are confused, questioning our relationship with food and darn right pissed off. We feel restricted or we punish ourselves instead of celebrating and taking the time to enjoy the party in your mouth that great food can bring to the table.
It's time to say screw you size zero, cardboard tasting dinner and passive aggressive you can do it quotes and bring back the inner child when it comes to our food and exercise. Some of us have never experienced how good our bodies are designed to feel as we suffer poor digestion, lack of concentration, mood swings, chronic fatigue, feeling sluggish and constantly bloated.
99% of all people who lose weight through some form of diet or quick win weight loss scheme, gain it back within a year, often with more than what they originally lost. Yes, you read that correctly... 99% of people do not succeed when they put themselves through the rigmarole of a restrictive eating plan.
4. What diet actually works?
Solid and consistently good nutrition is great but what we eat is only half the story when it comes to optimum health and nutrition. We need to understand the psyche, heart and soul of the eater. Who we are as eaters is what makes up the rest of the story. Road mapping starts by looking at thoughts, feelings, emotions, stress levels, beliefs, relaxation, how much pleasure you get from food, the amount of nourishment, when you eat those meals, how quickly you eat, whether you are eating those meals alone, if you're travelling with work all the time and often finding yourself eating fast food just to get something in so you can get on with your day. It looks at what your overall eating rhythm is, how you are currently listening and how tuned in you are to your body.
9 out of 10 women are dissatisfied with their bodies
5. What do I need to know?
So much more comes into how we literally and physiologically metabolise a meal. Think of everyone you know, think of the people who want to lose 5 pounds, 10 pounds etc. Think of your own relationship with food. You might have what is considered by most as a 'Hollywood' figure but still have low self esteem. Whatever your individual relationship with food, it may be getting in the way of who you are meant to be.
What about instead of following the next quick fix we find a nutritional path that honours who you are and what you want to be. A path that can help you reach your metabolic potential and understands that everybody is different. That not one size fits all but looks at a sustainable practise which is results driving using specific tools and techniques. If it were a case of simply saying to yourself or others around you 'step away from the donut, get your ass down a gym' the world wouldn't be in an obesity crisis. If the quick fixes worked then they would have worked already. If there wasn't a psychological connection between the brain and what we eat then just saying no to overeating, emotional eating, yoyo dieting or to not eating at all would have worked.
6. How is psychology related to eating?
We need to look at the psychology of why we are eating the way we do and analyse those habits; be it the ones inherited from our primary caregivers or from habits we've picked up over time. The more you fight those voices which say, 'you're fat' when you look in the mirror or call yourself 'stupid and pathetic' for binging at night, the more those voices fight back and become even louder.
Ever enjoyed chowing down on a biscuit to then reach for a second, maybe third, whilst in the back of your mind comes a dark and leering voice making jibes such as, 'sure fatty, eat that. That'll make you look good in a bikini.' Only to somehow demolish the entire pack with the voice in the background jumping up and down, practically screaming obscenities at you until the last mouthful when all goes quiet. Then you hear one last insult to injury, 'I told you, you fat cow. You're useless. You can't stick to anything!' Enter feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness. Sound familiar?
Once we reframe the problem and see it not as an enemy hurling abuse at our every eating decision but as something we invite to the table (pardon the pun). Then we can move on and start to develop the toolkit that we as individuals need to help us put into action and ultimately become a person we're damn proud to be!