I like to think I’m pretty healthy in the grand scheme of things. I make most of my meals from scratch, drink at least 2 litres of water a day and listen to my cravings.
But it hasn’t always been this way. I’ve had quite the journey with health and fitness and have admittedly been rather influenced by various online presences, articles and fads. I’m not blaming any sole individual for the relationship I developed with food, however, I have definitely felt a social media shaped barrier between it and I.
Whilst I always listen to my body in the gym and genuinely crave experimental sessions, for which I have Crossfit to thank; I get bored in the kitchen. I’ll often stick to the same food routine for a few months, until it’s retirement due to the discovery of fresh, haphazard obsessions. Around this time last year, I was obsessed with finding healthy alternatives to my favourite sweet treats. I have the biggest sweet tooth, something I used to consider to be my biggest downfall when it came to sticking to a healthy diet (which, by the way, I largely maintain due to the way eating well makes me feel, not in order to maintain a particular shape or weight. However, I would be lying if I said there was no aesthetic motivation in my food choices).
I’d make healthy versions of anything – not worrying about the calories but focusing on what benefits the ingredients would contribute to my health. However, this did nothing more than fuel more cravings for my sweet tooth; I didn’t know when or where to stop. This habit evolved – all I could think about throughout my day was indulging in whatever sweetness I’d knocked up that week. I wasn’t aware at the time that this practice may have led me to a state in which I became fixated on food. I thought, as long as it contained healthy ingredients I needn’t worry about the calories – I could indulge in basically whatever I wanted.
I would worry if I couldn’t get my hands on a ‘healthy alternative’ when on the go, no doubt packed with sweeteners and god knows what else. I would worry about the quality and quantity of my snacking throughout the day. I’d had enough of constantly thinking about food. So, I decided to change up my routine. I’d pick one day of the week only to eat unhealthy food – a ‘cheat day’.
This was possibly the worst decision I could’ve made. I consider myself as a headstrong person, but man, I was a slave to the sugar. I’d deny myself whatever I wanted, which made it all the more desirable, and then allow myself to have it on the weekend. However, this left me with just one out of seven days to indulge in ‘shit’, so eat ‘shit’ on that one day is all I would do, fully aware that this opportunity would be denied to me until the following week. I forced myself to eat unhealthy food for this reason, and restricted myself wholly during the week. Whilst I believe that one size certainly does not fit all, and you must listen to your own body – who am I to suggest that this diet is dangerous and will not work for you? – from personal experience, I would suggest that this is not healthy. I don’t think this period of my life was menacing or dramatic, but it was undeniable.
I know, it’s totally bizarre to allow such a habit to maintain such a dominant position throughout my day to day life, both in practice and mentally. Looking back, I can see this so clearly now and am quite baffled as to how I allowed myself to get into such a state in the first place. The answer to this catastrophe was simple, I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted, but focused more on what my body craved, not my taste buds.
I no longer denied myself the odd doughnut only to devour the whole box of mouth-watering ring shaped delights when Sunday rolled around. Because I realised, actually, I don’t really want it. And if I ever do want one, I’ll just eat one. And then I won’t want it anymore.
I’m not saying I don’t love a super food powder, or don’t see more nutritional value in an apple than a bar of chocolate. I am, however, controversially (or maybe less so, contemporaneously) suggesting that my obsession with cheat days and ‘clean eating’ led to an unhealthy relationship with food in my case.
More info on these themes here –