To read part 1 of the series, click here
Diet or lifestyle change?
Looking at food as a quick fix to lose weight or drop a pant size can be detrimental to our mental health. It can leave us feeling depressed, anxious, obsessed, and crazed about food and body image and can harm our self-confidence. If we become obsessed with our weight, body image, and dieting plan, we can venture into a slippery slope of eating disorders, low self-esteem, a strive for perfectionism, body dissatisfaction, and depression.
None of us are perfect, and we all will find flaws within our physical appearance. However, once we accept our flaws and learn to appreciate our flaws is when we begin to love our bodies, and when we love our bodies, we enter into a happier, clearer state of mind. How we view our bodies and how we nourish our bodies are both crucial aspects of our mental and emotional health, enabling us to think and feel clearly.
Diets are temporary fads
Diets are a temporary fad: sometimes, we chose to go on a diet for a week or for six months. The goal of most diets is to lose weight in a short amount of time. Whether it is the keto diet, the Atkins diet, vegan diets, restrictive calorie diets, juice cleanses, or other fad diets, these are simply a temporary quick fix to a long, complicated problem. Over 85 percent of individuals regain their weight back within a year, meaning that most diets are not successful, and they do not benefit our cognitive health.
There is nothing wrong with wanting and trying to lose weight (within certain standards), but this mindset should be a conscious lifestyle change that involves adjusting our eating patterns and habits and learning to move our body in positive ways through exercise. This process takes time to adjust to, months to even years, but if done right and done in a conscious manner, this can become a life-changing adjustment.
We should be striving to take care of our bodies over the long term by adopting new eating habits that not only resonate with our bodies but also help us de-clutter our minds. Eating healthy is a lifestyle change and commitment, not a short-term diet. Healthy lifestyle changes not only can improve our physical health but can also improve our emotional and mental health. The right food can de-fog our brains.
Our problematic relationship with food
We all are at least slightly conscious of what we put into our bodies and how our bodies react to everything we eat. We look at ourselves in the mirror every day and react to our appearance and our body type, whether good or bad. Some of us appreciate our bodies but are always trying to lose those last five pounds. Some of us hate our bodies. Some of us are always on a constant hamster wheel of different diets in an effort to tone up or fit into a smaller pant size. Some of us want to become stronger and more athletic. And the tiniest minority of us is perfectly content with how our bodies look and feel. Food is there to nourish our bodies, but unfortunately, many of us struggle with our relationship with food.
We overeat, we skip meals, we binge eat, we only eat snacks, we indulge in greasy food, we cut out carbohydrates and sugar, we stop eating, we only eat fruits and veggies, or we exchange eating food for juice cleanses. We are all guilty of using food to fill an emotional void, to give us a crutch, to make us feel good, but these are all temporary Band-Aids.
Food should be enjoyable, it should bring people together, it should make us feel happy, it can sometimes comfort us, and it should always nourish our body and mind. Our brain and body need a plethora of nutrients to function. We need carbohydrates and proteins to nourish our brains so we can think and complete necessary work tasks. We need food to be able to move our bodies. The bottom line, we need food to survive.
When we starve our bodies, we starve our minds
Unfortunately, our society has turned food into a lightning-fast, unhealthy way to fuel our bodies or a crutch to help us cope with stress and negative emotions. A quick bowl of cereal bowl for breakfast (if we are lucky), take-out for lunch, and drive-thru fast food for dinner on the way home from work is becoming the social norm of how we nourish our bodies on a daily basis. Nearly gone are family members and friends sitting around the dinner table after cooking a delicious meal and sharing stories about their day. No wonder we are tired, cranky, and are experiencing brain fog. No wonder we are under-appreciating our bodies. We are hurting our digestive tracts, wrecking our bodies, and starving our brains, all because of how we view food.