If there was a healthy magical supply of energy that we could reach for whenever we needed a pick me up, we would be grabbing at it with all possible hands, right? Well, then this next read is for you - how to get energised whenever and wherever. Before the gym, in the middle of your workout, in the morning before work, important social occasion after a full day of work? I’ve got you covered.
I love looking at what types of food our ancestors ate. Why? Because humans have long evolved and adapted on a variety of different diets and I for one, personally believe there is no one diet that we should all follow.
By and large, humans - especially in the west - have narrowed the range of foods that they willingly consume, compared to what they 'could' consume. Ever seen insects or grubs on the menu in your favourite restaurant? The chances are slim to none. Why? With the advancement of transportation and communication, food cultures have merged and cross-pollinated.
As eaters today, we have the freedom to eat and explore culinary delights quite literally to our hearts content, fuelled by personal preference rather than a need for survival. Simply put, we eat more for pleasure. Of course that doesn't take into account, allergies or intolerances. Which is where the cult of 'healthy eating' as we know it has sprung up. The problem with healthy eating diets is that they are still exactly that; a diet - and any diet sets about convincing its followers, that this is the one and only way for a healthy and prosperous life. Advocating only one way of eating is dangerous as it reinforces rules and creates disordered eating.
If you look at Tudor food, culinary delights would have been considered broth of grasshoppers lung, braised wasp, fly head pie, jellied bat's foot and stewed spleen. Sounds delicious right?
And what we might consider as pesky Seagulls were actually one of the more expensive delicacies in Tudor England so consider that next time you're queuing for your fish and chips on Brighton beach!
What exactly is eating psychology and why should I care I hear you ask? Well matey, mind body nutrition is a field that advances the practice of clinical nutrition by exploring the psychophysiology of how thoughts, feelings and beliefs impact nutritional metabolism and health.
It goes far beyond classical nutrition by focusing on the connection between brain, body, and behaviour. Simply put, what we eat is only half of the story of good nutrition. The other half is who we are as eaters.
That user manual you mentioned...
Just imagine, how much easier our lives would be if we were born with a 'user manual' or 'owner's guide' where we could unlock the key that tells each of us what we need to eat and how to live a healthy lifestyle.
But you see, each person has their own unique story with food which makes there billions of different complexities that can factor into how we choose to eat and live our lives that go way beyond calories.
So where do we start?
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!
Can we just talk diet, fitness and New Years resolutions for a moment? What feels like you can't look online the last few days for fear of people hating on what they ate over the festive period, already busy scheming getting back on the wagon for 2017 or more bizarrely, if you're not seen to be adding to the pile of resolutions then what the hell's wrong with you? Why don't you want to fix?
Whilst it's great to set goals (hey I'm the queen of goals and plans ) if those goals don't come from a place of realness and not to mention a realistic place for you then you might find yourself in the line up for some unnecessary New Year heartache, frustration and feelings of failure.