What is your favorite food? A very common question, right? It's even a quick way to connect to someone you've just met - perhaps you share a taste for a particular morsel. In so many ways, we build relationships around food.
But have you ever considered your relationship with food itself? I find food sensitivities push us into a corner and force us to at least acknowledge the role of food in our lives. Is it your way to brighten your mood or comfort yourself after a hard day or find that sense of inner peace? As always, there are no right or wrong answers here…but there is another piece to your food sensitivity puzzle.
If you had asked me forty years ago about my favorite food, the answer would have been a quick and loud shout of "strawberries"! Now, while I do have some foods I really enjoy, if I am honest about my favorites, I would simply answer "whatever doesn't make me feel crappy". I expect you have found yourself saying - or thinking - something similar on occasion.
The difference is food as a source of happiness or self-soothing as opposed to food as a necessary but enjoyable requirement of life. We have to eat. Just like we have to drink. But when we can recognize the emotional triggers we have about the foods we eat, we are that much more in control of what we eat.
And when you're dealing with trigger foods and foggy brain and crampy belly and itchy skin and a whole host of other miserable symptoms, being mindful and aware of what you eat and why is that much more important.
In coaching, there is a lot of talk about permission - our ability to give ourselves permission to do or not do something even when you feel you should or shouldn't. "Shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" are where so many of us get stuck. These are the rules we believe apply to life which were learned from others over the years. "You should go to bed by 10pm every night." "You should eat three meals a day." "You should call your mother." "You shouldn't take an afternoon nap." I'm sure you have some shoulds and shouldn'ts of your own.
I want to give you permission today to make your own decisions about food - what you eat and why you eat it. You know your body better than anyone else on this planet. Trust it. If it tells you something does or doesn't serve you well - because any food you put in that amazing body SHOULD serve you well - listen! Don't eat something simply because of somebody else's rules.
Making this one shift in how you approach foods will start to change your relationship with those foods. Maybe you do have one or two food items which are your comfort foods for hard moments. Maybe you decide to turn someplace else like a hug from a friend or taking a beloved pet for a walk or simply spending some quality time by yourself, whatever that looks like.
With food as a tool, it becomes a lot easier to make decisions about what is in the refrigerator and on your plate.
Sixty-second Self-care Tip…
Have we ever talked about non-negotiables? I don't think so. These are the things in your life which are so important you will do them regardless of the shoulds or shouldn'ts. In fact, these are the things your calendar is built around so they are not forgotten or skipped in the craziness of life. Non-negotiables are unique to each of us and can be challenging given all of the rules so many of us live with.
Grab that trusty pen and paper and spend a few minutes identifying your most important non-negotiables and then decide how well you have maintained them in your life. Would you like to be more consistent with one in particular? Maybe there is a brand new one you want to incorporate?
Still unsure about non-negotiables? Here are a few of mine:
- One day off work every week (that means don't even look at the computer!)
- Walk the dog or play outside with him every morning for at least 30 minutes
- I give myself permission to take an afternoon nap when I need one
- Get a massage once a month
- My work phone does not ring outside of business hours - it all goes to voicemail!
- Stop work no later than 5pm daily - this is the hardest one for me!