Self Compassionate Diet and finding the Erotic in every day.

tea-in-bed

It has been an interesting journey recently – last week I came down with a flu type bug which resulted in spending a lot of time in bed, sleeping resting and delightfully, reading.

It is no coincidence that my illness follows a month or so of stress, worry and a busy workload, but when I woke up on Tuesday morning, with every part of my body aching so much that it hurt to simply walk – I could do nothing else, but rest.

This year has been a joyful one in many ways, when I set out to follow the Romancing the Ordinary, I did not expect it would open out so many areas of my life – call it synchronicity, or  serendipity, but I have discovered some wonderful books recently.

 

You may already know that I have been feeling uneasy about the weight gain I had in the last three years, but I am not really a dieter. My upbringing was so strict and disciplinarian that the adult rebels anything that imposes rules and regulations.  What I eat isn’t the greatest challenge, I think it is something to do with why I eat and how I eat that makes me gain weight.

To focus on the outward only – as in reducing calorie intake has always sparked bingeing and the self reproach that goes with it. Dieting and along the exercise programmes feel like punishment – which is not the best way to make life long changes.

Who on earth wants to spend their lives disconnected from all that gives them comfort and joy?

I read Dr Moseley’s 8 week blood sugar diet – and began to follow the diet plan – until one day, I found myself looking longingly at a bunch of bananas. My body wanted a banana more than anything else and the berating bully shouted NO NO in my head. A day later I had a binge of eating not just a banana but spent a sublime 20 minutes messily eating a mango – it was delicious! (Bananas and mangos are forbidden in the diet, as is most carbohydrates). Maybe I need to read a diet plan that forbids salads, fresh fruit and vegetables?

food-and-love

The quote above is in both books I am reading at the moment, The Compassionate Diet and  Soul and Spirituality is about bringing the Erotic into the every day…yes, you did read that correctly, erotic and soul in the same sentence!  It is all about the senses, with little essays about each sense inviting a connection to the delicate sensual experiences from our body which are mostly overlooked or simply ignored. Sadly, the only time I give my body attention is when it lets me down, when I am in pain or suffering.

For me, who has spent a great deal of my life disconnected below the shoulders, connecting with the body is the first step to really getting to grips with food. I’ve forgotten what real hunger feels like and sometimes I am eating watching TV that I am not aware that I am full.

I have been practising Yoga for a little while now, one day I felt a sudden heat rising through my spine, and it took the exercise onto a whole different level. Yoga invites me to really inhabit my body, every single inch of it – right down to my toes. It is that awareness of this wonderful vessel that serves our soul, the first bitter sip of a latte, the feel of soft grass wet with dew between your toes, the tender warmth of a hand holding mine. This discover offers a tiny strand of hope – that I can discern what is an emotional hunger and what is genuine, belly gurgling hunger. Exploring the sensations of the body, which this week has been painful and sore, has been necessary!

the-power-of-loving-kindness

The Self Compassion Diet is not a prescriptive diet plan as such, you won’t find diet recipes here, but you do get a menu of options to approach weight loss from the inside out: Self Compassion, Hypnosis, Mindfulness, Social Support  and Continuing education. You can pick one or pick them all. I am beginning with Self Compassion – and it is making a difference already.

Diets usually come with a list of prohibited foods as I have already mentioned, – do’s and don’ts which seems a great approach – I have a clear idea of what I am supposed to do and, for a time, while my motivation is high, I get a sense of achievement. But life isn’t like that, I get bored or there times of stress where I need comfort… which usually takes the form of sweetness for me.  Then I have no-where to go, I’ve broken the rules, in the world of good and bad, I am now a bad person because a good person never slips up. You see how it all becomes so negative. And don’t get me started on my inner critic who just loves to join the party and tell me what a failure I am, and how I will just end up getting bigger and bigger….. ENOUGH.

mindfulness

Self compassion isn’t like that, there is no black and white – it is accepting where you are without judgement. Self compassion sees us for what we are; we don’t have to be saint or sinner, we are loved and accepted as we are. We don’t have to walk on a tightrope, we can simply acknowledge that we will fail sometimes – that is part of life, it is how things are, we made a mistake but who doesn’t? Let it go and continue towards the goal… doesn’t that feel more achievable?

To put it another way, if you are training for a marathon which coach would you prefer? One that is like an Army Sergeant – yelling at us, berating us at ever step and challenging us that whatever we do is not good enough? Or think of the kindest person you know, the person who makes you feel good about yourself, but gently encourages and nurtures the small steps we take.

self-kindness

While I might not be able to follow the 8 week blood sugar diet, I can still accommodate the desire to reduce my dependency on sugar. I set my intention to reduce the amount of sugar in my food, and I acknowledge that there is a deep seated part of me that needs something sweet and comforting in times of stress. So, I have been exploring ways to nurture and satisfy that – so when I reach for the biscuit tin it is full of home made biscuits that offer more of a satisfying energy boost.

Like all things when you follow your heart, the universe offers such fabulous opportunities  – this weekend I was invited to a food demonstration on how to reduce refined sugar in your diet, from two lovely ladies who are ‘food coaches’, I’ve never heard of a food coach before. In two short hours I came away with fabulous recipes for delicious, sweet and nutritious foods.. I will share with you soon, I promise. Especially the low sugar, non fat chocolate pudding… yum!

 

 

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What’s healthy?

I saw the doctor the other day, I have been struggling with my health for a couple of years but she forced me to get on the scales and I had to face it – I am overweight and heavier than I have ever been – (including pregnancy weight).

I know I am not unusual, Women’s hour reported that 61% of the UK population is overweight.

I needed to do something, I could not keep on simply buying bigger and bigger clothes and my health is really starting to suffer.

I started as I love to do, with books. I sat in my favourite Waterstones, with my green tea, thai noodles and a pile of books so high, I could not see above them.

I chose randomly, picking up one here and there from the shelf right at the bottom of the cooking section, below the bake offs, sweets and pudding books. It seems in order to be healthy one must be able to bend down that far. (I still can so all is not lost!) My pile included, sugar free eating, wheat free eating, healthy living, cleansing, medicinal foods to name but a few. The sugar free one seemed to offer me hope that I could continue to eat cake that would also magically be low in calories, and it looked promising, pages and pages of savoury food, (cheating!) finally the puddings section which included cakes and biscuits. I was surprised until I discovered the recipe included ‘dextrose’ not sugar… er… isn’t that another name for sugar?

Another book substituted sugar for weird ingredients – some of which were unpronounceable leaving me to wonder about the processing and artificial sweeteners have been linked to increasing obesity and cancer.   Coconut sugar? er.. isn’t that still sugar? Xanthan gum was proposed as a ‘heathy’ alternative to sugar, but it is created from the fermentation of sugars, identified as a polysaccharide (poly as in multiple + another word for sugar) combined with bacteria. Call me old fashioned, but sugar looks to me to be the healthiest option.

Another told me that wheat was virtually poison and I should never eat it, suggesting  odd ingredients that were most likely found in health food shops. I struggle to imagine any natural foodstuff to be poison, but rather than point the finger at wheat, maybe the cause of the problem is what happens to the wheat between the field and our plate? Bread can be natural, made simply from flour, yeast and time. The choreley wood method of bread making has been identified as bad for our health while a huge advantage for the stores. It speeds up the process chemically, then introduces chemical retardants, eventually to be heated up in a store giving us the impression that it is ‘freshly baked’. Its not made for our benefit, but maximise profits. I can’t eat it – the last time I had a tiger loaf I ended up in hospital, but I can eat home made bread.

The debate rages on about Butter, but to be honest why does spread need probotics, or cholesterol lowering plant enzymes? I would rather eat something that has the simple ingredient of churned milk and a little salt than soya lecithins, potassium sorbates, emulsifiers and acid stabilisers.

I glanced at the packet ingredients for my Thai noodles, it was the only healthy option available in Costa. I had ignored the cakes, biscuits, cheese laden toasties, it looked like a healthy choice, feeling saintly for my good intentions which was sabotaged; it contained over 10% fat! It would appear that in order to make the salad more tasty it needed a sauce containing not just fat but sugar!

Call me old fashioned but healthy food to me is as close to its natural state as possible – I am so tired of the manufacturer’s spin. Today’s nonogenarians ate food in season, grown slowly without pesticides or growth enhancers, they walked. food was expensive, farmers were able to make a living from non-intensive methods, bread was baked locally using local flour, not shipped half way across the world.  Snacking between meals was unheard food was restricted to mealtimes when they sat round a table and concentrated on the taste of what they were eating. 

I am astounded at how many times I reach for food as a matter of habit – a cup of tea seems to need a biscuit, or I grab a few nuts while I am waiting for the kettle to boil. My favourite programme on TV has adverts for chocolate and sweet things – subliminally I want something that I don’t really need – I have made a link with comfort and food. I reward myself with sweet things because my parents taught me good children get sweets, sugar is the reward – its embedded in my psyche. I  need to find a way to reward myself with other things. 

We can’t have our cake without calories, there is no magic that melts away the food we chump into our mouths and just because a food comes from a health food store it doesn’t mean to say that it isn’t processed. 

So I am going to follow the doc’s advice: eat less move more. 

I’ll keep you posted!