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!

 

 

A good start

 

A good wake up in the morning!
A good wake up in the morning!

I have been looking at several different approaches to health recently, it struck me that so many of these diet books or even worse ‘diet tricks’ appear to view the body as something to be ticked or overcome in order to lose weight.

I have over many years felt the need to cut down when my body has been rather bigger than I would like, but I don’t have the tenacity to stick rigidly to a diet or a exercise routine for long.

I have visited gyms but it feels as if you are trying to punish the body, with the emphasis on ‘no pain no gain’ and other such mantras, what I could not help but stop thinking was that I am sure our bodies have a shelf life. What if we were using them all up on a mindless running machine, where we are mesmerised by the big TV screens counting down the time.

 

4fda4-susie-1010539

 

Being the perverse person I am, I asked myself that maybe the answer lay not in ‘disconnecting’ from the body, but connecting, feeling the sensations and messages sent to me every moment of the day? What if instead of just eating chocolate because I was bored, chomping it down while I surfed the net, I stopped and firstly asked my body if it was hungry? What if I discovered my body desired something else like a nice cup of herbal tea?

Lemon and Ginger tea
Lemon and Ginger tea

 

I began this process and discovering a  preference of Green tea over black tea. I became aware that every time I drank black tea it made me hungry for something sweet. When I drank green tea I hardly felt hungry at all. Concentrating when you eat can be an amazing experience, eating chocolate becomes a whole new sensory adventure when you  focus on the sensations of the tongue, feel the hardness melt and savour the taste.

This mindfulness has created a connection not just with how I am feeling, but what I need. So much eating is done because I craved love and it can be surprisingly liberating to discover spending ten minutes gently stroking my arm gives me a greater sense of love and affection that can ever be in an square of chocolate. There is science behind this to back it up, stroking the skin produces a hormone that gives us a sense of wellbeing and love. Babies produce it when their mothers stroke them or feed them, so it is deeply ingrained in our psyche.

all is well

I believe that when the body feels safe and loved, it will not need to store up reserves, that being loved and safe is key to letting go of all that. Loving yourself is difficult at first, we English are so afraid to be bigheaded that we are resistant, but I feel it is at the very core of our being and essential to living.

It is always great when I find my theory is reflected by others and I came across Louise L Hay’s book heal your body. She talks about nutrition and nurturing the body, as well as connecting with it.

beauty
beauty

Connecting with your body is not just about food, its about listening. Sometimes I am so wrapped up in the project I am doing that I ignore the cramp across my shoulders, or the numbness of sitting for too long. I realise that my body tells me its time to do something different.

When I was a girl I loved dancing round the room to classical music and I find as a woman in her late forties its still a great thing to do. Try it yourself, next time you are in the bath or shower, as you soap your body, think tender thoughts and feel the sensations.

A few months ago I felt sluggish, exhausted and was struggling with joint pain – although my thyroid levels were borderline, I felt my metabolism was slow and I was cold all the time. I started to consider foods that warm the body and started to drink ginger / lemon and honey tea. I found grated ginger was the best, but it was a pain to peel and grate every day.

instant fresh herbal tea

One day I hit on the idea of putting all the ingredients together in an ice cube tray and hey presto, each morning I have fresh ginger and lemon tea without the hassle. I have also made mint tea this way too.

 

Instant herbal tea

 

Just pop one or two in the cup and pour over the hot water, perfect!

Someone far wiser than me told me: love your body, its the only home you have.

ttfn