Breaking down the confusion and myths around Mental Health, Nutrition and Exercise
Part 2 – Your Food
Jillian Walsh, Registered Dietitian; http://www.changecreateschange.com
Personal Experience with Nutrition (Not Very ‘Healthy’)
A few years ago the stresses I was dealing with greatly effected my life. My husband was also dealing with the same stress, so there was really no escape for either of us. I was self medicating, taking gravol to fall asleep and if woken at night, I could not quiet my thoughts to fall back to sleep. So I had many sleepless nights. I remember feeling defeated. I’ve always been a problem solver, but I could not solve this problem. Finally I visited my family Doctor for help. Medication and therapy helped me cope, but it took the severing of the stress to really give me relief.
During this time my food choices were not ideal. Convenience food became a major staple. Ordering in was much easier than dedicating energy to shopping and cooking. And so began the vortex, I was not eating well so I did not have the energy or desire to move more. Exercise felt like a chore, another addition to my to do list and this made the couch and a bowl of chips feel comforting. I used food to help me feel better, but it really did not provide me with the positive energy I was craving.
Improve Your Relationship with Food
Jillian Walsh specializes in eating disorders and provided a great visual example of the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating. Those with a disorder obsess over food. What they eat, when they eat, how much they eat and fret over every calorie. Food is always on their mind and causes stress and anxiety. Some deal with that anxiety by eating more while others choose to eliminate what they have consumed in many ways, excessive exercise, vomiting, fasting etc. It is dangerous and debilitating. With nutrition counselling, their relationship with food can improve. Education around food and how it provides nourishment for the body is also part of the recovery plan.
I would fall into the category of disordered eating. Not honouring my hunger, eating while doing other tasks and not allowing myself the time or focus to enjoy my food. The convenience food is no longer part of our weekly routine because I am now taking the time to tune into what my body needs and providing it the nourishment it requires. Some days, this might look like a homemade lasagna and other days it could be a beef stew. Even when I do order in, I check in with my body to see what it is that it needs for that meal.
The diet mentality can play a role in both disordered eating and eating disorders.. The key with diets is that they were created to be a temporary solution. Most fad diets out there had a medical purpose when they were created. Then the diet industry gets a hold of them and prey’s on our need to fit their standard of what a healthy body should be. Diets do not last; as soon as we go “off’ the diet or deviate from the strict rules our body will gain the weight back. Leaving us feeling like we have failed. However, as Jillian points out, ‘you did not fail the diet, the diet failed you’.
Jillian encourages using mindful eating as a way to get re-connected with your hunger and fullness cues. Slow down the process. Sit at at table without distractions. Smell your food before you put it in your mouth. Enjoy the choices you make when you eat. Eat without guilt, worry or defeat. These strategies will help your body process the food you are eating in a more efficient manner and you will feel better as a result.