Eating for your health is always my take home message with my work. But health isn’t just physical health – it’s mental health, and that’s why I believe we should all change the way we think and live with food in order to have a good relationship with it.
I know so many people who simply eat to fuel. Basic meals, repetitive meals, quick and easy fixes. That’s fine, if that’s what you want from food. But then, I know soooo many people who want to enjoy food but are simply becoming scared by it. Yes, healthy eating is key and preventing diseases is too, but that doesn’t mean that we should demonise our dinners.
And don’t worry, I thought that way about food too. I demonised my food as a teenager. I didn’t have an eating disorder by any means, but I was obsessed with “dieting” and losing weight. Being a naturally curvy girl with “a good leg on ‘er” (as my family liked to say when I was a kid), I’ve never been really thin. I hit puberty and got my periods as soon as I turned 11 and what did that mean? I filled out and got hips and tits and my appetite went through the roof. But I continued to gain weight and grow (might I make clear, like ANY NORMAL TEENAGER SHOULD), but as my peers remained tall, lean and still not having curves, it made me want to hate food, although I loved it.
I wanted to be one of those thin, “good looking” girls who skipped breakfast, lunch and tea and ate 1/3 apple and half a rice cake. Now, I know that is disordered eating. And I’m so glad I never went down that route and remained munching my fully stocked lunch and snack box throughout the day (thanks mama). I’m so glad I never gave up my love of food or I wouldn’t be where I am today, or doing what I love.
But the body acceptance part wasn’t that easy. It’s only recently I’ve come to love my curves and accept my weight. It’s thrown about that we all have a “set point” for our weight – not sure how true it is but I think I’m at mine. I’m curvy, a bit chubby in places and have a few rolls here and there. But they’re only minimal and they’re NATURAL. I’m much more happy now eating my happy, full, varied and balanced diet, having lots of fun and eating healthy choices too while being this weight. I’ve been thinner before and haven’t got the same pleasure out of food as what I have now. It’s good for a mental health to be half a stone heavier than I should.
I do think we should keep healthy though, no matter what your weight. Obviously, obese and larger people have higher health risks and I can only advice based on what they want to do or for the sake of their own health if they’re at risk. But I do believe maintain a good healthy lifestyle is the key to happiness and health. And I’m not talking “good” as in salads and juices and “cleansing BS”. I’m talking getting active every day (if you are able bodied too), eating a variety of foods, fresh, dried, grains, dairy, meat, fish. Keep “naughty” foods to a minimum but don’t restrict yourself.
And when it comes to Christmas, definitely don’t restrict, but know your limits. Know when you’re gonna be so full your trousers pop (I mean if you like getting to that stage, you go girl, but I know I don’t), don’t drink so much you blackout and fall in the gutter and don’t eat the whole box of celebrations to yourself at 10am on Christmas morning (I know I mean, it’s easily done but it’s just gonna ruin your appetite for the rest of the day really)… probably consuming double your daily intake in sugar before you’ve even had all the festive delights!
So I wanted to show you something I found recently on Facebook, something that’s been widely shared by thousands of users.
It was shared by the British Heart Foundation and the BBC. Reputable sources right? Or is this simply an outdated message?
It’s almost as if we’re punishing ourselves for eating over the Christmas period and that the exercise we do after to “burn it all off” is some miracle cure. Isn’t this just another form of disordered eating, especially getting each calorie down to the very minute. WE NEED FOOD TO LIVE. We should have to burn off every calorie that goes in. Our basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories we need to help our body FUNCTION – that’s without moving or even being awake), is around 1200 kcals a day at least (individual for each human), and that’s before all that moving and grooving you’re gonna do over Christmas
Yes, if you’re going to smash into such an amazing few days or weeks of festive food, meals and parties then you do need to keep moving and active for your health and to avoid putting on loaaaads of weight. We have to accept though, whilst I always advice to keep it balanced, eat your veggies and make sure when you’re not eating festive, you’re eating healthy, fibrous and filling during your other meals… we all put on a few pounds at Christmas. But do a few pounds really matter when you’re having a blast? Of course, if you have a medical condition what requires you to lose weight to help it, then you should be a little bit more careful about your food, but here I’m talking about the general, healthy British public. The ones who feel they’re expected to be a weight from magazines and social media or those girls looking at their peers who haven’t grown as much as them yet. Stop. Don’t feel guilty. Take control of your feelings and begin to love food. The more you understand your food, take pleasure from it and stop demonising in, then I believe healthy, balanced diets will fall in turn.
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.