This is just as important if not more important that wh
What do you do when you don’t like the way you look? The first thing most people think about is diet and exercise. “I better start another diet.” or “I need to go to the gym tomorrow.”
There is definitely something to be said about diet and exercise, but is that the only way? I know the title of this blog is 3 FOOD Strategies to improve body image, but it is not what you think. I am not going to tell you to eat less and exercise more, cut calories or remove gluten, sugar and carbs from your diet.
The food we eat is important, but when I talk about food strategies I am talking about how we eat. This is just as important if not more important that what is on your plate. When we don’t like ourselves we punish ourselves (intentionally or not). You know what I mean, right? We make ourselves go to the gym and run on the treadmill, even though you hate running. But look you burned 500 calories! You do it for a while and feel guilty when you skip a day because you didn’t burn those calories, but it gets harder to step on the treadmill because honestly, you really don’t like it. You feel like you have to do it because you HAVE to burn off the calories in order to love your body.
You also, remove all the foods you love because they are bad, but you eat everything else under the sun because all you want is a cookie or a piece of bread. This way of living is all about restricting, depriving and stripping pure enjoyment out of diet and exercise.
So, here is the thing. You don’t have to do drastic things to get results or even love your body. As humans, we are always looking for the easiest route to do things. I mean, if it is easy we will keep doing it right? If we dread it or make it too difficult we will stop. Case in point, falling off the wagon.
I have a new approach for you. 3 strategies that are gentle and something for sure you can start incorporating into your life right now without hesitation. Are you ready?
How quickly do you eat? Do you actually sit down and eat or are you at your desk, in front of the tv or standing up in the kitchen? The speed you eat your food affects your bodies ability to metabolize, assimilate and digest it.
The world is fast! Everything is quick and eating becomes an afterthought. When you eat fast your body goes into a stress response, which turns off your digestion, slows down your metabolism, decreases calorie burning capacity and stops nutrient absorption (yeah, that kale you just ate, that you don’t really enjoy anyway, your body was not able to pull the nutrients from it).
I am sure you have heard that it takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that it ate and to give your brain signals that your full. So, if you are eating quickly and multitasking at the same time you are not able to feel the appropriate signals to stop eating or your body does not remember eating and will become hungry shortly after.
This is why slowing down is crucial. Stop trying to rush and avoid the feelings of your body. Take time for meals and learn to sit with yourself. Look, see and taste your food. Because when you slow down your body is HAPPY (aka relaxed)! A relaxed body turns on digestion, turns up metabolism and calorie burning capacity and is able to absorb nutrients.
This does not mean you need to take an hour to eat, even though that would be great, but be present for the time you are eating. Give your body space to send hunger/ fullness cue, so you are able to feel them.
Along with taking more time with meals is nourishment. How is your relationship with food? Mechanical, an afterthought or punishing? Unknowingly, rules get put on food. I can’t have this or that because it’s bad. In return, you begin to fear food, which doesn’t put your body in the best state for metabolizing.
Nourishment is key into moving toward a body you love. Here is how you can add more nourishment into your meals.
Create a relaxing environment , you know when you go to a restaurant how the ambience makes a huge difference. You enjoy your food more right?
Make space and time for your meals.
Change up your diet to include foods that make you feel good and you enjoy.
Pleasure is a little more specific than nourishment. A good idea is to make a list of all the foods that you enjoy and that bring you pleasure. It does not matter what the item is. After you make that list, start incorporating those foods into your diet. Maybe add 1 a day or 1 at each meal.
Start at a place that makes you feel comfortable, but start incorporating more pleasure into your meals. Meaning, if you don't like it, don’t eat it. When you eat something that brings you pleasure your body absorbs more of the nutrients, rather than eating something that is “healthy”, but don’t like it your body will not absorb any of the benefits. So, why eat it?
Give yourself permission to eat food. Seems like a simple concept, but how often do we feel guilty for eating something you totally love? What is the point of the guilt if you are going to eat it anyway. Give yourself permission to eat it, be nourished by it and eat it slow.
Pleasure embodies us, which is the ingredient to heal body image.
All of these strategies puts you in your body, which is essential to shift your body. For way too long you have deprived yourself of enjoying food, pleasure and slowing down. The more you are in your body the more confident, satisfied and happy you are.
The most important thing to do is start small. Often times we put way too much pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly and have big expectations. So, take a little step forward.
To start, put your food on a plate, set the table or sit down without distraction. You could even set a timer for 5 min, sit down and be mindful for those few minutes. That is a huge step forward. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey.
Lots of Love,
P.S If you want to learn more ways to be in a body you love. Check out my free guide, 3 Steps into a body you love.
Hannah Hipps is an Eating Psychology Coach, Yoga Instructor and mom to 1.
She was a collegiate athlete and had her ups and downs with her diet and body. After having her son she had a slow recovery and her body changed (physically and mentally).
Creating more self love and care has become her mission because we all deserve to be in a body we love. She takes the stress, guilt and confusion out of eating. She makes eating full of ease and grace with Mind Body Nutrition, Dynamic Eating Psychology and yoga strategies.