Blueberries Heart

Lent: Should we “give up” the foods we love?

Eating food doesn’t lessen your value as a person and forcing unrealistic eating standards can be more detrimental than you think. 

 

Diet culture has taught us to define foods as either “good” or “bad”, telling us to stick to our salads and low calorie replacements. This ideology is so destructive and can teach the wrong message about food. If a pizza has less nutritional value than a spinach salad, it doen’t mean that it immediately becomes the villain on my plate. 

This Lent, why not stop giving up “bad foods” and start to practise food mindfulness. Mindful eating doesn’t mean you have to do yoga and meditation before you eat, it creates a healthier and sustainable way to enjoy your meals. By learning to understand your body’s signals and paying attention to how you feel after eating and what makes you feel good, you’ll learn to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. 

I have been trying to implement this in my life to avoid binge eating and now I feel so much more relaxed about food. Instead of using the willpower dieting requires, I channel that energy into projects and tasks that actually require my energy and as a result, I’m happier and healthier. 

Dieting and setting restrictive eating goals is scientifically proven to not make much difference to your overall weight. A part of your brain called the hypothalamus, controls and regulates your body weight by altering your hunger levels and metabolism, generally keeping your body weight in a range of around 5 kilograms. Even if you try and keep the weight off for seven years, your body will still try to regain it. The new lower weight is seen as a temporary change, whereas, a larger weight gain sustained over years will cause the brain to think that this is your new normal. 

Typically, most people gain back the weight they lost during a diet and 40% gain even more weight back. This comes down to our biological evolution and biology that dates back to our ancestors in the stone age, where the body would gain weight to conserve energy to survivive during the next food shortage. In fact, girls who diet when they are younger are three times more likely to be overweight in the future. 

Mindful eating can also be paired with habit forming to create a healthier lifestyle. Here are some ideas for you to try this lent instead of giving up chocolate and sweets! 

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day: hydration is key! Drinking water is so good for you and your body relies on it to function properly. 
  2. Stop calling food “bad” or “good”: some foods are just more nutritional than others!
  3. Focus on achievements that aren’t related to your weight: try monitoring your energy levels, sleep or fitness to determine which foods and activities make you feel your happiest and healthiest! 
  4. Eat distraction free: eating in front of the TV means your body can’t register what you’re eating or fully enjoy it. 
  5. Unfollow social media account that promote unrealistic body types: this is pretty self explanatory, surround yourself with things that don’t make you question your self worth. 
  6. Try a new vegetable every week: ASDA have been selling some really unique and exotic veggies at the moment! 
  7. Mindful eating! (obviously…)