Redefining Self-Love Series | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food | Guest Post from Leah @ Deep Rooted Wellness

My passion for food stems from my own 10-year battle with an eating disorder. As many high school girls and young women experience (and men as well, eating disorders aren't unique to the female gender), food became a major source of anxiety, discomfort, regret, failure, and sickness. And it’s unlike any other addiction in that you can’t just quit cold turkey – you have to learn to manage your addiction. I spent years learning to do just that, but it wasn't until I started to think about food in a more loving way that my attitude and perspective about diet shifted.

Redefining Self-Love with Food | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food
Detox Veggies | Photo by Deep Rooted Wellness
In the past, I created strict boundaries surrounding my food choices (i.e. NONE of this and certainly NONE of that – you can fill in the blank with your own restriction). No matter how tightly I tried to hold the reins, I would fail. If Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was on the ‘No List,’ I’d adhere to the rule for a few days, maybe even a week or two and then I’d binge on, yes, an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And you know how that made me feel? Like a failure. Like a completely incompetent glutton. Like a big fat pig that had zero self-control. Doesn't sound very loving, does it?

So what changed? First and foremost, I started to view food as a way to love and nourish my body, rather than something that needed to be restricted. When I started to think about food as love, then I automatically began eating a healthier diet and in turn, kicked some pretty bad habits and lost over 40 lbs.

I found there to be a couple of extremely important principles in my “food as love” journey that I thought were worth passing on:

1. Before you eat something, ask “Is this the most loving choice for my body?”

We have a way of feeling like we “earned” that huge piece of cheesecake (or whatever your vice may be), but the reality is that we’re “rewarding” ourselves with something that doesn't provide our body with the nourishment that it needs. When we’re not nourished, we don’t feel our best. A better approach is to reward ourselves with foods that make us feel whole and nourished. So next time you sit down to overindulge in an unhealthy food, first ask yourself “is this the most loving choice for my body?” And if it’s not, find something that is.

Redefining Self-Love with Food | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food
Gluten Free Donuts | Photo by Deep Rooted Wellness

2. If you just can’t resist the urge to eat junk food, “upgrade” your food choice.

Let’s say that you know your cheesecake isn't going to be the most loving choice for your body, but you just can’t resist. Nothing can stop you from eating it… and that’s okay, but first ask yourself, “is there a better choice that would suffice?” I have this problem with ice cream all the time, so I've started upgrading to a mixture of frozen fruit, avocado, almond milk and maple syrup. I throw everything into a good food processor or blender and I promise, this is SO close to ice cream! It totally fulfills the need for ice cream without that side of guilt and regret - I “upgraded” my choice. Part of the challenge with this one is determining the food characteristics that attract you in the first place – is it the saltiness, creaminess, sweetness, etc.? Figure out which characteristics are driving your desire and then fill that desire with a healthier choice that still has those same characteristics.

Redefining Self-Love with Food | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food
Photos courtesy of Deep Rooted Wellness

3. Forgive overindulgences. And hell, you can even enjoy them!

There’s much to be said about the role of stress in digestion. When we’re stressed, we release cortisol that inhibits our bodies from maximizing digestion and nutrient assimilation. So if you’re eating your cheesecake and all you keep thinking is “why I am doing this? I’m not supposed to be eating this,” your cortisol levels are rising and your cheesecake is doing even more damage than had you eaten the damn piece of cake and enjoyed it. So forgive yourself, and move on from the cheesecake incident. It’s not worth fretting over because what's done is done.

4. Make a weekly meal plan.

I can’t stress this enough. Yes, it takes time to put a meal plan together, but once you get in the habit of planning your meals, you’ll save a ton of time and money. Besides, if you have a plan in place, it’s much harder to make poor choices surrounding food. Let’s say it’s Thursday night, you feel like grabbing a cheesy burrito on your way home from work, but you’ve planned your week and you’ve already bought groceries. If you eat out, your groceries will just go bad. So home you go, to prepare a loving, nourishing dinner for you and your family.

Redefining Self-Love with Food | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food
Massaged Kale, Lentil & Goat Cheese Salad | Photo by Deep Rooted Wellness | Click image for recipe
5. Eat more whole foods.

Think of your body as a machine that needs good food as fuel. When we eat packaged, processed foods (even many of the all natural, organic ones), we’re putting chemicals in our bodies that don’t provide our “machine” with the right “fuel.” Our cells depend on the chemical breakdown of those “fuels” to build hormones, neurotransmitters and tissues. If you eat the wrong thing, then your body isn't able to manufacture the right product, which can leave us feeling imbalanced, moody, emotional, fatigued, grumpy, or a whole slew of other issues. Not to mention disease and undesirable health outcomes. A healthy whole foods diet includes grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and moderate amounts of animal proteins. The more of these foods you incorporate into your diet, the better you’ll feel!

Want to learn more about how to love yourself with food? Sign up for Leah’s 10-Day Detox Teleworkshop starting on April 28th! Leah will guide you through a 17-day program in which you’ll learn first hand how to make loving choices surrounding diet. You can learn more here:

Redefining Self-Love with Food | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food

Leah Webb, MPH (Master of Public Health), is a Vermont-based Certified Health Coach, who specializes in helping people feel more energized by making loving food choices, lose weight, balance emotions, and relieve chronic inflammation and pain. "Like" Deep Rooted Wellness on Facebook and sign-up for FREE whole foods recipes and other updates so you can connect w/ Leah!

Redefining Self-Love with Food | 5 Ways to Love Yourself with Food

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