Food Freedom Friday Edition 101 - Adulting
Is it time to become an adult with regards to your nutrition habits?
You are a little older now and have probably lived a little. You may have done some travelling, finished most of your schooling, even got married, bought a house and now have your own place to live. You possibly have kids of your own, and want to do the best by them which starts with setting a good example. When it comes to nutrition, you might want to think about making some changes.
It is finally the time to become an adult around your food choices and eating habits.
Beginning in your 30’s the choices you make can really start directly impacting your overall wellness and lifestyle, this is the time when your metabolism is starting to slow and it becomes easier to store fat and more challenging to lose it. It is definitely tougher to bounce back from a night of drinking; and suddenly, functioning on a diet of coffee and lettuce is impossible. You are also in your earning years, and with all that time working, your time for exercise is likely more limited. Finally you may come to the realization that you cannot get away with having the eating habits of a teenager anymore.
You are a grown up now!
If this feels like you and you still have nutrition and food habits that you think are hurting your health, physically and/or emotionally, the time to work on them is now. It is never too late to implement a few small changes. Some habits are harder to break, some might even be impossible, but awareness of how these behaviors impact your health is essential. We ALL have unhealthy eating habits of some sort – ye, even me.
A few habits you might want to start thinking of shifting away from:
Not cooking for yourself when you are alone.
I have had so many clients tell me over the years that when they are alone (either they live alone, or they find themselves alone at certain times), they do not see the worth in cooking a meal for themselves. They just have a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner as they feel it is too much effort to turn on the stove.
I am sure each one us has gone through a stage of eating a bag of popcorn or a bowl of cereal for dinner. That is, before we grew up and actually realized that whether alone or not, we are worth the time and effort (often a minimal amount) that it takes to make a nutritious, delicious meal. Yes, you ARE worth it.
Go buy yourself some fresh seasonal vegetables or even pull those frozen ones out of the freezer. Grab a beautiful piece of fish for one at the store on the way home from work. Panfry the fish, steam or roast the vegetables, and sit down and enjoy your healthy meal-for-one.
It will feel good to treat yourself with the love and attention you deserve.
Overindulging because you are on vacation.
I totally understand being on vacation and wanting to indulge in things you do not get to have in your normal life. I am a huge supporter of immersing yourself in the local culture, especially the food, when you find yourself in a different country for work or for play. Using your vacation as an excuse to drink your face off and grab every dessert in sight just because it happens to be there, is not my idea of a good time.
Not only will you feel like awful, both on vacation and when you return, you will also probably have to deal with extra pounds when you get home. That makes the post-vacation let down so much worse then the anti climax of coming home already is.
Keep healthy snacks and, if possible, breakfast options in your hotel room. If your room does not come equipped with a mini-bar that you can refrigerate food in, the hotel might be able to provide you with a small fridge for that purpose. All you have to do is ask – most hotels keep small refrigerators for guests who need them. Having healthy breakfast options to fall back on when you are away from home can start your day right and support keeping you strong and well while on vacation.
Not being mindful about your eating.
I understand. Your life is probably really busy. Shovelling food into your mouth at lightning speed while you sit at your desk (or at the dinner table) is neither healthy nor smart. I have written before about mindfulness and how it can be an effective tool to help you manage your diet. When you are distracted, you are much more likely to eat more. Think about mindlessly eating popcorn during a movie. You have probably eaten way more than your share more than once or twice while being engrossed in the storyline.
Stop for a few moments and take the time to shut your computer or phone off, or move away from them when you eat. If you want a snack while you are binge-watching your latest obsession on Netflix, portion it out instead of eating from (and probably finishing) the entire bag or carton. Put an end to eating in the car! It’s mindless AND leads to distracted driving. If you need to, have a snack before you leave work for the day, or take the time to have breakfast before you leave the house. You deserve that instead of the stress of eating on the run.
Fighting your healthy weight.
You have been on and off enough diets to realize that severely restricting calories or intake for any length of time always ends up in a rebound binge for you, or that your goal weight of 120lb is completely unrealistic, or that you are wasting your time and energy punishing yourself repeatedly for the measly two pounds that you keep losing and gaining back.
Put an end to the madness.
As one ages, metabolic rates slow and the tendency to gain weight rises. There is less time for movement (due to busy lifestyles and packed schedules) and body composition starts to shift. More body fat is accumulated and stored and muscle mass may reduce and even shrink with age. Older muscle is less efficient at repair than younger muscle. This means your calorie-burning tissues dwindle, possibly leaving you a little behind the eight-ball. There may also be a genetic component to your changing body composition.
Fortunately, some things can be changed. You can build more lean muscle and eat more nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory foods which can support combating many of the effects of both age and genetics.
Take these factors into consideration when you look at how much you want to weigh and the possibilities of that happening.
Most importantly, you also want to weigh the physical and emotional cost of constantly trying to diet those last few pounds away, versus nourishing your body and mind with the right foods and activity and accepting that you might be at your healthy weight. The importance of a good attitude towards food and eating can also never be under-estimated. Many of your perceptions of and around food are formed when you are very young. If you have longstanding difficulties with your feelings towards food and your body, you might want to discuss these with a professional, dealing with the underlying issues and removing them from your life once and for all. Ingrained attitudes about food and eating from long ago can have a tremendous impact on how and what you eat now. It is time to stop punishing your body. It loves you; love it back.
Be mindful of the beauty of food and what it can do for your body. Instead of thinking of food as just calories or points, admire its flavour, beauty and purpose.
We all have our bad nutrition and food habits. Starting with treating yourself with respect and love, working through your old stuff, and being more mindful are essentials for a happier, healthier life.