This just in: do NOT feel stressed about what goes in your mouth.
This is a recipe (har har) for disaster.
Stress = bad. Stress = stressful.
Food is our friend, our fuel. It literally makes you the person you are and having a good relationship with food is as important as having a good relationship with work, your family and your friends.
Food is about health and wellness, yes, but it's also about community, social interactions, being out and happy or even being alone and indulgent. It has so many purposes and making it a sad or stressful thing will be a slippery slope, hard to escape.
Why do we stress about food?
I'm surprising myself writing this post. Simply because - it means admitting I can be in danger of this. It means owning up to those weird, embarrassing thoughts that we should have grown out of by the age of 25.
I have moments where I really have to catch myself and go: "whoa, what was THAT?"
My "danger zones" used to be focused on the usuals: weight, how clothes look, how food affects my skin...etc. These are (unfortunately) fairly normal obsessions for girls I guess, especially if they've lost weight. You can become a little obsessed with trying to live in your new skin, keeping weight off and getting into the mindset of "I'm not on a diet anymore". I know I struggled at first with my new identity and every cupcake represented waking up in the morning looking exactly as I did in 2006.
I should note here, for people who don't know me at all, that I first started getting healthy because I did want to loose weight. I want to be an actor, so it helps to be healthy and slim, and it all really just progressed from there.
From joining a gym, to reading books, to getting a bit fitter and then eventually going vegan - it's been a lovely slow transition and I think knowing it will be (and should be!) a slow process is the key to success.
Today - I'm effortlessly a size I couldn't be happier with and, through my vegan lifestyle, never restrict food. I eat every meal until I'm full and satisfied and it's not something I think about much at all. After years of trying to loose weight and dieting, this is an enormous relief, but it doesn't mean that I'm cured of the occasional silly food-stress.
The usual culprit is: quite simply: eating food that I know won't serve my body in the slightest. I have spent too much time researching and experimenting with getting healthy to enjoy most of the foods people "indulge" in and appear on the majority of menus. To be honest, I don't have vegan burgers or chips or deep fried things often and Vegan options are usually some kind of falafel burger with fries and I can't help but be aware of my body screaming "what is this crap?"
But then someone yells: "let's order wine!" and I say "yes! Let's!" because tonight is a lovely social night and my body's voice is consciously silenced by the bottle opening.
It's lovely. It's magical. If I didn't love it - I wouldn't go out with my lovely friends and have vegan pizza and wine occasionally.
Food should never be stressful. I have conquered this stress by embracing food and living a healthy lifestyle that allows me to have these lovely dinners with friends because know it won't make a difference to my health or my body in the long-term. Diets don't work because being healthy and the right size should be lifestyle, not a three-month experiment. If I ever am feeling a bit over aware that the food isn't healthy - I just take a sip of wine, re-engage with the conversation and ENJOY MY DAMN LIFE. I'm there at this table to talk to my friends and hear about their lives.
If food is your top priority (exception if you are currently on some amazing health adventure by the way) then you need to re-exaime things. I eat best when I'm not focused on food at all. When I'm busy with rehearsals and work and blogging and doing six thousand things, I don't have time to obsess about what goes in my mouth, therefore I usually just rely on my fundamentals and end up eating pretty damn well.
Food has been both friend and foe, but today - it's 100% my friend. It's my friend because I love the taste, the nutrients and the health, but also - it brings me closer to people. Food can mean the difference between a night out and a night home alone. It's going to support the cool new veggie restaurant in town. It's drowning sorrows over booze with single girlfriends.
It is a pleasure, a fun, a necessity and shouldn't be a stress.
It helps to love good food, too. If the majority of what you are eating is somewhat healthy, you naturally won't feel stressed about it. You know that your body is fuelled, you are "carbed up", you can think clear and be more motivated and positive. Food has the power to do all those things. When you eat right - you feel more centred, focused and happy. That's not revolutionary. You will know if you've ever been hungry - that you're automatically irritable, frustrated, tired or just damn useless.
Don't talk to me before breakfast. Seriously.
EAT! Food glorious food! Eat it, love it, enjoy it! Make it a part of your life in whatever way makes you happy! Become a food critic, become a raw-foodist, become a home-chef! Do whatever you like. These days - I love cooking for myself, I love eating a lot of raw fruits and vegetables and I also love going out for a bottle of wine with my friends and eating a lovely meal out.
These things all make me happy. If I ever feel stressed about food it can now just serve as a nice reminder of the past. The past when food was not my friend and I didn't really understand how to have a good, safe relationship with it.
You can become too obsessed with trying to be "healthy". You can become too obsessed with trying to be "good". You can become too obsessed with "not caring", too. Don't interpret this post as me saying: go out and eat McDonalds and be happy about it. Obviously that's not my philosophy. I would say more: don't feel stressed if your stress is coming from a place of fearing about your weight or worrying that one meal is going to undo years of good work.
Life is far too short and energy is far too precious. Spend it focused on what makes you happy and if any of that involves eating the odd vegetable - then woo hoo!
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