I've always struggled in my relationship with food. Food has been many things to me in my life - my comfort, my vice, my enemy, my energy. Its represented sadness, joy, health, illness, and more recently infertility/fertility.
When we first started trying to conceive (TTC) I saw a fertility naturopath. I had no idea we would have trouble TTC, but I'd been told about the importance of being healthy in the 90 days prior to conception.
I figured this was a planned pregnancy so I had the opportunity to get as healthy as possible.
It was one of the best things I have done - it revolutionised how I see food and what I thought I knew about being 'healthy'. I learnt all these amazing things about how to care for my body, and improve fertility.
It gave me something to focus on and control while TTC - in a time where there is so little you can do.
However an unexpected side effect was that also showed me just how manipulative my relationship with food is!! I discovered how much emotion I had attached to food!
I had created this world where:
- There was good and bad foods
- There were rules about what and when I could and couldn't eat.
- I had attached blame to food
- I used food to rebel - break all the rules I'd created!
- I used food as an excuse to hide behind
- I used food to be a crazy perfectionist
- I used food to measure my self worth
When I had educated myself in all these wonderful facts about nutrition and my body I suddenly realised - all the time I had been thinking it was my body that was the problem, when really it was my mind!!
My whole life I've been that classic yo-yo dieter. I was repeating this pattern of getting motivated, getting too rigid, getting complacent or over it...rebelling, then punishing myself....
My fertility challenges have certainly made this pattern more extreme. The drugs, high levels of stress and heartache are like a moth to the flame for an emotional eater/perfectionist like me!!
It was time to shape up - mentally this time!!
I’ve set out to create a healthy relationship with food - using for sustenance and health not as an emotional crutch!
So what have learnt on my quest so far??
To shake off the rules!
No rules means you can't rebel against them, or fail! No food is off limits - instead it’s about tapping into your body’s initiation about what it really wants to eat.
I use a phrase from a wonderful book- 'If Not Dieting, Then What?' to think I can have it if I want it, but do I feel like it??
I'll admit that the liberation of having no foods off limit saw a bit of binging on foods I'd not “allowed” myself for ages!
Then I started paying attention to how the food felt (physically not emotionally) both as I was eating it, and as I digested it, suddenly kicked in and is guiding me in a way I have never experienced before!
Most of my eating was non-hungry eating!
Boredom, Procrastination, Politeness (try one of these things I baked!), Emotion...but not actual physical hunger! Bringing awareness to this and addressing the real issue has helped.
This is not an overnight process!
I used to get frustrated if I was trying to shift a few kgs and resort to restrictive diets that drop weight quickly...but the problem behaviour remains so I found eventually the weight comes back.
These are well worn in patterns and behaviours - they take time to change! I've learnt that if I want to make a real, lifelong change I need to be ok with taking the time. No shortcuts!!
What are your tips for having a healthy relationship with food? How has TTC impacted your nutrition/greater health?