Step 1: Keep a Food Journal, write down everything you eat. Step 2: Keep a…
Step 1: Keep a Food Journal, write down everything you eat.
Step 2: Keep a Food Journal, write down everything you eat before you put it in your mouth.
Step 3: Keep a Food Journal, write down everything you eat before you put it in your mouth, plus where, when, why, and with whom you eat.
Step 4: Eat whatever you want but first drink a glass of water.
Step 5: Eat whatever you want but only at the table.
Step 6: Set the table.
Step 7: Slow down, and savor every bite!
Step 8: Put the fork down between bites.
Step 9: Sip a large glass of water with each meal.
Step 10: Plan nutritious meals
Step 11: Prepare visually appealing foods.
In May’s Newsletter I missed sharing “Don’t Weight to Love Yourself”, my monthly blog that chronicles my journey to self-love and a healthy relationship with food. I started this journey 46 years ago and I’m still on it! Since I had planned to share two steps each month, this month I will share the next four steps.
In a previous blog, I explained how my mother predicted that I would always have a weight problem and encouraged me to not wait to love myself until I reached some ideal weight. Following her advice, I stopped focusing on my weight. In fact, I swore off all scales completely and for the last 46 years, I’ve only stepped on a scale at the doctor’s office. I exchanged the daily habit of weighing myself for the daily habit of reminding myself that I was loveable, regardless of my weight. It was such a novel perspective! It was so freeing to bypass the scale. It was wonderful to let go of shame when I binged standing by the refrigerator when nobody was looking. Instead of feeling terrible, I said to myself, “Welcome to the human race! You aren’t perfect (but neither is anyone else) and everyone makes mistakes.” In place of self-criticism, I practiced self-acceptance.
Like a light suddenly illuminating a dark room, I realized I couldn’t change my behavior without first changing the beliefs that led to those behaviors. Albert Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve problems at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created those problems.” Though unfamiliar with these words of wisdom at the time, I embraced the concept fully. I understood at a deep level that I would have to rewrite my script and intentionally apply it to my life. Over time, I learned to stop castigating myself for poor food choices or eating in unhealthy ways and instead began celebrating, doing little fist pumps and patting myself on the back, when I successfully incorporated a healthy eating behavior. Focusing on the positives felt good…and that is a choice we can all make!
Wanting to eat more slowly and savor my meals, I developed a couple of strategies that I faithfully practiced. First, I practiced putting my fork down between each bite, which was difficult initially but over time this slower rhythm of eating allowed me to be more present and enjoy meals more thoroughly. Next, I committed to sipping a large glass with each meal. I hoped that drinking water would curb my appetite…and it did. By drinking water, I consumed fewer unhealthy diet sodas and sugar-laden beverages. More importantly, drinking water with my meals became a kind of meditation. Knowing that all living things need water to survive, sipping water throughout my meals was a reminder of my connection to all of nature.
After two weeks of putting my fork down between bites, followed by two weeks of sipping water throughout my meals, I was ready for the next step. Since I was eating more slowly, I had time to consider the nutritional value of the food I was eating. For the first time in my life, I deliberately decided to eat a fruit or vegetable, a protein, and a small serving of carbohydrates with each meal. This was a big step for me because up to this point, I had focused only on changing how I ate, not what I ate.
After two weeks of intentionally preparing relatively healthier meals, I took the next step. I committed to preparing visually appealing dishes, and foods that would pique my appetite and increase my pleasure. I knew it would take more planning but hey, as I was learning to love myself, I decided I was worth the extra effort. I was not always successful, but I tried to “eat the rainbow”, meaning I tried to have foods of at least three different colors on my plate at every meal. Eating the rainbow was at first a fun challenge but later became an ingrained habit, something I still strive to do at every meal. I truly believe visually appealing, well-plated dishes absolutely taste better. My granddaughter recently said to me, “Yaya, it’s not artwork, it’s food. What matters is how it tastes, not how it looks.” All I could say is, “I’m sure that’s true for some but not for me!”
I learned a lot about myself over the 8 weeks that I practiced putting my fork down between each bite, sipping water with every meal, planning nutritious meals, and preparing foods that were colorful and visually appealing. In fact, I learned the same lesson over and over again…I was loveable! Turns out my mother was right all along.