When I bust out my salads at work or get caught geeking out on my favorite smoothie recipes, oftentimes I find other health nuts to geek out with. But sometimes I am met with scoffs. People have voiced their concerns about my “healthy eating” in a few different ways – that they think I am going to judge them for the way they eat, or that they wouldn’t touch a piece of broccoli with a ten foot pole. Well for one, there’s no way I am fit to judge anyone for the way they eat because I have been on both sides of health.
Using Food as Comfort
You see, I wasn’t always excited about kale chips and mushroom powders. I struggled with my weight, my skin, my menstrual health, my anxiety, my sleep, and my relationship with food. I used to binge on sweets, hide food, eat to soothe emotions, and get really down on myself for not taking better care of my health. As I started to lose a sense of control over my body and my health, I turned to food more and more for comfort.
Voices in my head were telling me “you should eat healthier,” “you should work out,” and “shame on you for giving in, yet again.” I felt like I was spiraling out of control. I confided in my best friend about this. Her response was simple. She said “It’s okay. You eat the cookies if it makes you feel better!” I never told her before how much this affected me. It wasn’t about enabling me to continue the way I was eating. It was about her offer of acceptance and a judgment-free space.
She was the voice that should have been in my head, telling me it was ok and that I was not disgusting, shameful, or a failure for devouring an entire bag of cookies in one sitting. And I realized that was the missing piece for me. I knew how to eat, I knew how to exercise. I knew what to do to re-gain my health. But I did not know how to cope with my emotions and anxiety in a way that did not involve food.
My best friend’s response to me was the comfort and support I needed at the time.
Nourishing the Soul
My lesson was that I could not nourish myself physically without nourishing myself emotionally. They go hand-in-hand. I began a process of exploring how to feed my soul on a deeper level. I experimented with yoga, meditation, journaling, essential oils, herbal teas, and evening rituals to calm my nerves and find peace in every day. After that, it became so much easier to eat foods that were serving me. It became easier to give up alcohol, to turn off the TV and put myself to bed early, to go for a walk when I was feeling down. Nourishing my soul fostered the self-love and self-respect I needed to take better care of myself.
I hear this a lot from my clients: “I know what to eat but I’m just not doing it.” Many times, it’s because we need to develop nourishing habits that don’t involve food. We need to work on self-love, that inner voice that echoes the sentiments of our best friend telling us that it’s ok, that she does not judge us but accepts us for who we are.
Self-love takes time and work. It can seem easier to look in the mirror and say “I hate my thighs” rather than “my thighs are magnificent!” But when self-hate drives us to restrict calories and push ourselves through hard workouts, we are rarely satisfied with the outcome. When we eat nutritious foods and move our bodies in a nourishing way because we prioritize our health and happiness, we tend to have more success with our goals (and we enjoy the process!).
What a Self-Love Guide Has to Say About It
Need more convincing on the power of self-love? Check out my interview with Stacy Yardley, an Empowerment Coach and Self-Love Guide, on how to work towards fostering self-love.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you struggling with self-love? Do you prioritize everyone else’s needs before your own? Leave me a comment below!