5 Tips for a Healthy Food Mindset

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When I (Katey) initially started cleaning up my diet (circa 2013), it was really difficult to get started — and even harder to commit. I was constantly "rewarding" myself with cheat treats for the small victories. I ate out a lot, and I also ate a lot of "healthy" foods that aren't actually healthy. I did this for a lot of reasons. First, I wasn't as educated as I am now. Also, at the time, I thought it was just a diet where the main goal was to lose weight. So, if I cheated the only repercussion (so I thought) was NOT losing that 5 lbs I had my heart set on. So, it was worth it to occasionally eat a pizza and just hate myself after. 

In 2016, I committed to a lifelong diet. I knew that in order for this to be a sustainable commitment, I had to change my mindset first, and then move onto the food. So, I started changing the way I looked at my body and the whole reason we NEED food, not just want food. Due to my long standing health issues (full story in bio), I was pretty hateful to my body. It wasn't digesting food properly, processing hormones the right way; it was tired and lazy; it was gaining weight; it was in constant pain, and quite frankly, not very fun anymore. 

This body hating negativity was stressing me out and holding me back. I really think for most of us, it's easier to give up bad food than to give up bad thoughts about ourselves. 

What I began to realize is that food and self-love are connected. Feeding yourself what you need vs. what you want takes a lot of time, money, and energy.  This time, money, and energy is an investment in yourself and your family. Even though I'm in a really great place with my mindset at the moment, that doesn't mean I haven't really struggled with this. Every day I have cravings to eat entire cakes and to smack talk myself. Most days I resist, but it wasn't always that way. It's taken a long time for me to learn to show myself love through food. 

Here are some tips on how I started to love and give thanks for my body:

Tip 1: Don't throw garbage in the temple.

Would you walk into a holy place and throw gum on the floor? What about dump wine on your new carpet? Or maybe binge eat an entire pizza just for fun? I know, I know... I'm stretching. But the truth is all of these examples are about respect. Respect for God, your home, and your body. It's simple: when you love something, you respect it. When you are carrying disdain for something, you treat it poorly. Stop punishing yourself by "dumping garbage" into your temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). You're only hurting yourself. That garbage is making you sick, tired and depressed. Instead, show yourself some love by feeding your body the nutrients it needs to make you feel your best. Only fill your home with products that don't poison your system. And only fill your spirit with things that lift your heart. 

Tip 2: It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Like I mentioned before, I used to be a sprint dieter. I'd do so well for a few days, weeks, months.. I'd backslide, feel guilty, start over. Rome was not built in a day, people!  Start by educating yourself about food. For real — pick a fruit or vegetable to research. Google, "health facts about oranges." Or start really researching your particular ailment. You need something to build upon. The human body is a fascinating thing. Find out how it works. Fads will never last. The only way to win a marathon is to pace yourself. Start a lifestyle change, not a fad diet. 

Tip 3: Know the why.

When I was a teen, most conversations with my mom went as follows:

Me: Can I go with ____ to ____?

Mom: No.

Me: Why?

Mom: Because I said so....

Me: (thinking bad words and rolling eyes)

Sorry mom, but I'm still rolling my eyes on that response. Knowing the why helps you make sense of the world. If she would have said, "No, because your friends are juvenile delinquents." I could have at least agreed with that.

It's the same with choosing to eat healthily — our minds need to know the why. I now know that IF I eat sugar, then I will be up all night sweating. Why?? 

Sugar causes your insulin to spike. When insulin spikes, it lowers levels of an important protein known as binding globulin (SHBG). When SHBG is low, your hormone levels increase to counteract. This means the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is way too high, making you have insomnia and anxiety... and nightsweats. 

Swew, that was science-y. In short, I choose not to eat that piece of cake because it's not worth staying up all night for. You're welcome, body!

Tip 4: Refocus your food feelings

This tip runs deep and there are LOTS of resources out there that can start the process of identifying the emotional connection you have with food. So, I am in no way trying to simplify this. For me, food offers comfort through familiarity. When I was a kid, my grandmother would serve me a tray of chicken fingers and fries in front of the TV while I watched Old Yeller on repeat. Yeller's death made me SAD. The chicken made me feel GOOD. So naturally, when I feel bad, I want to lay up in front of the TV and eat chicken fingers.  But, I don't deny myself this kind of self-love! I still eat chicken fingers. Now, they are just gluten-free and non-GMO. And they still make me feel GOOD.

Tip 5: BE KIND to yourself

Imagine your favorite person (I'll use Caley as my example — sorry, Boo). Now tell that person the worst things you say to yourself.

"Caley, I can't believe your fat butt ate that muffin today."

"Caley, your skin looks terrible and you need Botox."

"Caley, you need to hit the gym if you want to have the decency to walk on the beach this summer."

I WOULD NEVER!!!!!!!! So, why do I say that to myself? Why do we all do this? It's a really bad habit that we all need to work on. You've heard it a million times, "you are fearfully and wonderfully made." But what that means is you aren't just not bad — you aren't even average. You are a beautiful badass. Food is a creative gift that is meant to heal you and bring you joy. Your body is a creative gift that is meant to walk your spirit around and fulfill all your life's purpose. By using one to help the other, you're showing yourself how much you love you! Be nice to this perfect creation.

Caley and I know what a long journey is to eating right and loving yourself because we are still on it. It's an everyday, all-day, good-vs-evil battle that takes place in our lives. Just know, we have your backs and we hope Wilder can be a positive resource to help you on your journey.

Want some associated reading material?

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

How to Love Yourself (and Sometimes Other People)

The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself: How Loving Yourself the Way God Does Can Bring Healing and Freedom to Your Life