Thursday, October 18, 2012

Think About It Thursday

A new theme for posts this week - Think About It Thursdays.  In this category, I want to focus on taking the time to focus on the logical side of eating well, fitness and health rather so that we are better equipped to deal with the emotional side.

Food, body image and wellness are highly emotionally charged issues and so often the emotions we feel determine how we act and react.  A higher then normal weigh-in can leave us feeling depressed and defeated or it can motivate us to work harder that week.  Eating a treat meal can be a welcome diversion in a healthy diet or it can make us feel like we "failed" our diet and send us spiraling down into food oblivion.  But what if we could take the emotion out of food? Would that be a positive thing?

Personally, I don't want to completely disassociate food and feelings.  My mum makes this amazing ice cream cake for my birthday every year (it started for my 13th birthday and I've had every year since - even this year for my 30th birthday!).  When I see that giant round cake lit up with candles, it warms my heart that my mother figured out to make a homemade ice cream cake the first year I asked, and that no matter where I am living in the world, she has somehow managed to make sure I have it again, even offering to teach my new husband how to make it!  When I am eating that cake and sharing it with friends and family, it's not because nutritionally we have a need for sugar, ice cream, cake and icing! I share it because that cake is delicious, made with love and it's a celebration - every year we get to live, we should celebrate with loved ones.  How sad would it be to completely remove food from celebratory occasions - no birthday cakes, no turkey dinners at Christmas, or champagne toasts?  But, and this is a big but, these are the exceptions, not the rule.  Most of the time, food should be fuel, removed from emotion and given to the body to provide necessary nutrients, energy and calories to carry us through the day.

The 90/10 rule (or 85/15 or 80/20 at most!) is the idea that most of the time your food is fuel - energy, nutrients, calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates.  The minority of the time, food is celebration, comfort, happiness and a treat.  I personally choose 90/10 as my ratio because I think for my lifestyle (heavy workouts, weights, running and a desire to lose a bit of weight without losing muscle) this is the right fit and the only way to get in my necessary macro and micro nutrients without overeating on calories.  You have to find the right ratio for you (I wouldn't recommend a ratio with less then 80% healthy food because it's just not...ummm, healthy!).

Too often we think, oh I worked out hard so I deserve a treat and before we know it, we've completely eliminated any caloric deficit gained by that workout and filled our body, which was hungry for healthy, nutrient dense foods, with pure crap.  I prefer to think "I worked out hard, my body requires protein to repair my muscles and quick digesting carbs to make sure the protein gets to my muscles fast."  Not quite as catchy or even interesting, but much healthier.  Treat foods and eating should be in celebration with family and friends, not eaten because we "earned" them with a workout, or because we are lonely, or sad, or bored, or stressed or, or, or!  And they should compromise no more than 20% of the diet.

Food is not emotion, comfort or love.  It's fuel.  We can celebrate with food but we can not truly comfort, heal emotions or reduce stress with food.  So don't try.  THINK before you eat - am I hungry or am I feeling_____?  If what you feel is hunger, food and water are the answer.  If it's anything else, food will not help!

Think About It!

How do you separate food from feeling?  What's your healthy to treat food ratio?

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