Your relationship with food

Oxford dictionary defines food as "any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth".

It's one of those things in life that you need to live. Food is also one of those things where people have various thoughts about, relationship with, access to, and problems with.

I've had my own ups and downs when it comes to how I view food. I've been on the extreme end of having an unhealthy relationship with food in the sense that I didn't eat enough of it. I've dipped my toes in anorexia in my late high school/early college days and I remember measuring every. single. thing that went into my body. And fat. Fat was something I looked at with disgust and almost anxiety. You see, food is something you can control. You can control how much or how little and what you put into your body. During this time of my life, everything felt out of control. I wanted so desperately to feel like I had something in my life that I could manipulate and have a sense of order to. Thus, I manipulated food.

Thankfully, I did get help. By God's grace and intervention in my life, I got professional help from a psychologist to help unravel my unhealthy relationship with food and begin the journey of healing. God also brought Maxx (now my husband) into my life during those early college years. As a 19-year-old, I was an extreme introvert, type A personality with no spontaneity. Maxx was the total opposite. God used him to bring me out of my shell and experience life more fully. And for that, I'm so, so grateful.

And today, 13 years later, I would say I'm in the best physical shape I've ever been in and for the most part, have a good relationship with food. That's due to getting professional help from a coach, a nutritionist, and having accountability. I think I will always have a small "thorn in my side" when I'm trying to fuel due to my past, but it keeps me humble and allows me to ask for help.

I believe part of the problem with our relationship with food is that the "diet industry" is chock-full of articles, expertise, and professional advice on how to lose weight and perform well.

Is keto better?

Maybe paleo.

Intermittent fasting is exactly what I should do.

High carb, low fat, or low-fat high carb?

Gluten-free.

Vegan.

Dairy-free.

Absolutely no sugar.

You know what I'm learning? All of those can be good choices. Here's the kicker - It depends on what the individual's personal goals are! How one athlete eats may not be what another athlete needs. An ultra-marathoner will not be consuming the same number of calories nor have the same macronutrient breakdown as a bodybuilder.

Can I be honest? I've judged people by what they eat. I'll see the posts on social media of athletes eating a carton of ice cream on their couch or a huge bowl of spaghetti at dinner or rice crispy treats on their trail run and I'll judge them. Guess what, they probably have excellent choices for choosing those foods. Spaghetti is a superb choice of food if you are carb-loading before a big event and need your glycogen stores filled. Rice crispy treats actually make for great run fuel because of the simple carbohydrates it is made up of for the body to break down for quick energy. And ice cream? Maybe that athlete had a huge competition that day, burned a lot of calories, and ice cream was something that sounded good and rewarding. All of that is good and okay. I'm working on discontinuing comparing myself to others and instead, focus my energy and what is best for me and my family.

Keep in mind I'm particularly addressing athletes and those persons who exercise a lot. So for the sedentary person, big pasta nights and rice crispy treats for energy, might not be the healthiest option. But to the athlete, these can be great choices.

I'm in the process of trying to fuel well for my own health and performance. I'm learning the science of food and how it interacts with the body. I'm beginning to understand that I need all of the macronutrients in my diet to be balanced. Why? Because I want to look at food with the perspective of what it will do for me in my workouts. The big idea and goal, if you will, is having the eyes to no longer label food as "good" or "bad". Because "good" and "bad" can be relative to what you need for your workout, recovery, or preparation. It just depends.

All in all, it's about knowing your goals and getting help to know how to get there. It's also about understanding the role of nutrition in the body. Our bodies are so powerful and let's try to work with it to perform well versus against it.

Food for thought. 🙂

~ by Lesley Hackett

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