Feelings Focused Eating

Most of us know what keeps us feel healthy. We know we need to eat right, exercise, spend time with family and friends, spend time alone, take part in our favourite activities etc, etc. Though of course, the formula is different for everyone. But despite knowing we need to do these things, sometimes we let them slide. We do however, have moments or phases where we really stick to it. Like when we aren’t feeling well, for example. If something is off with our bodies, we suddenly jump into action. We do all the things we know we should be doing on a regular basis, but for whatever reason are often unable to sustain.

A couple of weeks ago, something went wrong with my stomach. I’m not sure if I ate something bad, or if I just picked up a bug. But I ended up eating the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) for about a week. A couple of days into it, I had to give an important presentation. It was for an organization of which I’m the president, so opting out wasn’t an option. The presentation was taking place over dinner at our local Dante Club, which is an Italian place. The food is amazing there, but definitely not something I could handle in my state. So for my meal, I ate only plain, white bread, chicken and a little bit of salad. I skipped all the yummy pasta, sausage and meatballs (oh, those meatballs… they are amazing).

While I was eating my very limited selection of food, it struck me as strange that on a regular day I go into the Dante Club and stuff my face, but in this situation I was able to control myself. Why was that? Clearly, I have the willpower to control myself, but sometimes I choose not to. I know the answer is probably obvious. We as humans want to avoid further pain. We want to avoid feeling bad.

So I started to wonder, what if I took care of myself everyday as though I were sick? What if I ate only foods that made me feel good after I’ve finished eating them?

Eventually my stomach got better. But shortly after life got busy again, as it tends to do. I was away from home a couple of times, and I didn’t have full control over what I was eating. While I chose the best I could, I also saw myself reaching for sweets and carbs to keep me going. Soon enough, my eating fell apart and I was left feeling bloated, tired, foggy and moody. When I got home, I decided to start following the candida diet to get back on track. This is a very strict eating plan that doesn’t allow for sugar (including fruit), starchy carbs or milk products, other than yogurt. This is NOT a forever diet, it’s just to stop the growth of candida and regain balance within your system. (I am not a nutrition expert and this should definitely not be considered advice. Seek out medical advice before you start something like this, I definitely did.)

Now all of this may sound restrictive and impossible at first glance, but strangely this time I didn’t feel like I was denying myself at all. There were cookies in my face and I didn’t have a strong urge to eat them (normally I never pass up a cookie). I definitely haven’t been perfect, but I’ve done my best with the situations in front of me. Changing my mindset to focus on feeling good has made all the difference. Instead of being upset that I have fewer choices at a meal, I just remind myself of the result of eating those things. I remind myself how awful they would make me feel. The change in my mindset has actually made it all fun, because life in general is more enjoyable when I’m feeling good. I’m even enjoying the process of finding or altering the recipes I love to fit within these new guidelines.

I know there will be times when I will eat sweets and pasta and bread. These things are all a deep comfort to me, and in moderation, they don’t upset my stomach. But now, I will try to remind myself that nothing tastes as good as how I feel when I’m at my optimal health. Instead of focusing on the cycle of indulging, berating and then restricting myself, I’ve opted instead for that simple shift toward the feeling of balance. So ask yourself, how do you want to feel? Then do everything you can in service of that.