Healthy Eating: It’s A Self Love Affair

by Kate on May 25, 2012

in Health, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Simple Living

I believe you should eat healthy as a loving gesture toward yourself. I believe when you eat as self-love, your diet changes for the better in a way that seems effortless. Suddenly eating healthy isn’t about punishment (because you’ve gained weight), it isn’t about control (anyone who’s every had an eating disorder knows how negative that can be), and it isn’t about preventing death (just the thought makes me anxious and want to overeat!). It’s just about LOVE. And love is freeing. Love is positive and light. Love lifts us up where we belong (hah sorry I couldn’t resist).

The main reasons we tell ourselves we need to eat healthy have nothing to do with self-love. For example:

  • Look Better: I don’t know about you, but anytime I’ve ever tried to eat healthy to look better, lose weight, or have some other positive physical effect it has totally backfired.  I always end up eating more and eating worse than I would have if I’d never considered how I look in the first place.  Although I think it’s always great to try to improve your diet, if your motivation is coming from the wrong place it never never works. Not for long, anyway.I think the main reason healthy eating in the interest of looking better doesn’t work is the motivation is not coming from a place of love. If you’re trying to lose weight because you just want to look better, that motivation is probably coming from a critical and judgmental place. Even if there’s some love in there, if looks are the only reason you want to eat healthy, you probably won’t be successful. It’s too external, too abstract for your subconscious to find it important. Without your subconscious on board, you’ll probably fall back into old habits pretty quickly.
  • Prevent Early Death: Another reason you might have for wanting to eat healthy is weight loss for your health. Maybe your doctor has told you you’re pre-diabetic, or already diabetic. Or maybe you have a lot of cancer in your family and want to eat better to prevent getting it yourself. You know you’ll have severe consequences to you health and a shortened lifespan if you don’t change the way you eat. That’s a serious motivation! You’d think hearing something so life threatening you’d immediately start eating healthier! …Nope. And here’s why: it’s not immediate and it causes anxiety. The lack of immediacy is the main problem. In an evolutionary sense, we humans are just not programmed to think in terms of long term health. We respond to threats happening now. Also, the anxiety caused by doctors telling you if you don’t change your diet you’ll die…well let’s just say it’s best not to think on that too much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be aware of where you stand, but preventing death is just too scary and abstract to stand alone as a long term motivation for healthy eating.
  • Control: This is a reason I’m unfortunately quite familiar with. I’ve gone through a variety of different restrictive diets (no carb, vegetarian, vegan, anti-inflammatory, no-sugar) mostly in an attempt to control my acne. None if it ever really worked and it was never really about the acne. It had much more to do with my need for control over something, and when you’re eating healthy for control reasons, it never lasts.  Sure you might lose weight or reach certain goals, but eventually you’ll lose it and binge and that’s never healthy.

So, how do you learn to eat as a gesture of self-love? It mostly revolves around paying attention. Start focusing in on how what you eat makes you feel. Does it give you energy? Or does it make you feel heavy and gassy? Pay attention to the taste–is it really that good, or does it actually taste like salted cardboard (most fast food items)? The more you focus on what you’re eating, the more you’re telling your body and self “I care about how this affects you.” Also think about what you know about the food you’re eating. If it’s heavily processes and contains partially hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, then you know it’s no good for you. Try to visualize the negative effects of those foods before you decide to eat them. The more mindful you are of how you’re eating and how it makes you feel, the more easily you’ll make long-term positive changes.

That said, self-love is about forgiveness. We’re not perfect and most unhealthy foods taste pretty damn good. So just go ahead and eat junk every now and then. Just be mindful. Take a moment to acknowledge that you’re eating something bad for you and then ENJOY IT and then move on.

PS–Totally love the Harvard Healthy Eating Food Pyramid pictured above–it looks so balanced and varied. Makes me happy :)

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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