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Relationships with Food..

Siberian Tiger
As a qualified personal trainer, all round gym warrior turned full time massage therapist, I often find myself in or among conversations that centre around food, and physique. I'm not a scientist, I'm not a nutrition coach, I'm not a fitness model, but as a regular member of society I've been through a weight loss journey of my own and I've spent many an hour pondering my relationship with food, especially since my cultural background revolves heavily around food. You know you are Greek Cypriot when you barter in Halloumia.

What has become quite clear of late is not that we as a society, don't know what's good for us and what is not, or how many calories we SHOULD be eating, or how much protein we should be consuming and if that should be a meat source or a vegetarian option, but instead how to strike a balance. How to enjoy what we are eating on a daily basis and not descend into total desecration when the occasional treat does crop up, which then often leads to that downward spiral.

If we are confident that what we are eating 85 -90% of the time is good wholesome healthy home cooked food made from fresh ingredients then we should have no problem dealing with occasional restaurant outings & occasional treats, and if we are consistent for long enough, bad habits can be over come and better choices second nature, in other words we can become better at practising damage limitation.

There in lies the crux, its how we view food, what we understand that it does for us on an emotional and psychological level and how we admonish or praise ourselves with food that needs consideration.

Something my previous partner would constantly say to me as I would often be heard contemplating my next meal only seconds after the current meal had been consumed:

"why does your life always have to revolve around your next meal?"

I guess he didn't grow up Greek Style. Often I discuss food with my compatriot Alexandros Christodoulou, Personal Trainer. We can often be heard bartering souvlakia for cyrpiot style meatballs or discussing what Cypriot dish for which occasion, non Cypriot friends have stood in amazement as he and I become engrossed in our discussion about our love of food, but it is this an unhealthy obsession? Does it automatically mean either one of us has a tendency to over eat or make bad choices? Does it mean we have an unhealthy relationship with food? My Life still revolves around my next meal, it's my nature and I enjoy eating, I now know however that in order to satisfy my insatiable appetite but remain healthy, I need to be prepared. I need food in the fridge ready to go all day every day, else my third eye turns into to the eye of Mordor and seeks everything that would destroy my dreams.

Trusting ourselves to know that eating that take out tonight, as a treat isn't going to lead to total anarchy and that realistically we are not going to descend into surviving on processed, take away or constant donut eating habits because we have in fact re-educated ourselves enough by now to know that this would be a disaster. Food is a social habit when we meet up with friends, Food is a reward when we need one, Food is a necessity for survival, Food is an inconvenience when we can't be bothered to cook, Food is a tool from which we can dramatically change the appearance of our bodies. It is up to us which relationship we choose and if your current one doesn't contribute in a positive fashion to our life and our well being, change it.

Unless you are planning on being a fitness model or physique competitor, realistically that one cheat meal in the week is not going to desecrate the other 6 days of good eating. What is important is that you recognise and identify your balance of good healthy eating V the stuff you know is not good for you. Changing a mindset can be an extremely difficult habit to break but it CAN be done.

For instance; I know that one day I want that physique but right now those nutritional goals seem totally out of my reach. What I can do in the mean time is implement some PMA and take small steps every day. I have detached myself from the outcome (for now) and I simply try and focus on what I can achieve today that might overall result in a better week this week than last week. Change one bad habit every day, even if it is the same bad habit every day until it is no longer a habit, don't dwell on it and don't reward yourself for it, just do it.

Rather than an intense focus on what you feel has to be or needs to be done, ask yourself what you can do differently today than yesterday. What system can you implement that will make a difference to your relationship with food? Will it be intensive prepping, will it be deciding what you want to eat for the entire week? Or swapping out biscuits for cereal as a snack? It's up to you to empower yourself and take control, when the temptation is there simply turn your attention elsewhere, don't dwell on it and don't reward yourself for it, just do it. Find a system that works for you.

The point is this, it's about our relationships with food, every single one of us has our own relationship with food, our own belief system and personal preferences, some of us are more tied up with emotional rewarding than others, accepting and identifying that if you have a negative or detrimental relationship with food is an essential part of empowering yourself, accept it and then let it go. Don't dwell on it, don't reward yourself for it, just do it.

You need to find what works for you. wether that be my fitness pal, weight watchers, balancing your food groups or keeping your own food diary, Its about striking a balance between consistency and anarchy, and eventually making sure that the balance lies in favour of consistency.


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