This month at CPA we’re talking everything to do with our bodies. We’re calling this little crash “course” body talk. And the goal is to get us a bit more comfortable talking about and understanding our bodies. I want to reiterate once more that I know how difficult this topic can be. I know a lot of us are constantly on guard when the topic comes up. We throw up walls and other defenses, hoping to change the topic of conversation as quickly as possible.
But all bodies and every body should be celebrated. We should love this vessel of life. We should cherish it and nurture it as best we can. Because let’s be real, at the end of the day, our bodies are one of the only things guaranteed to us in this life.
Food Is Not An Enemy
I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times. Or have seen this quote all nicely designed in your social media feeds. “Food is fuel. It’s not the enemy.” And sure, these quote reminders are nice. But sometimes they’re hard to believe.
I want you to take a moment to reflect for a second. Now answer these questions truthfully. Have you ever had issues with food? Do you ever have disordered thoughts about it? Have you tried to restrict your calorie intake to reach a body goal? Do you ever feel like food controls you? Does your self-worth lower because of your relationship with food? Do you ever wish that eating was, just, well, as simple as eating?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have some wonderful news for you.
You Are Not Alone
Roughly 8 million people suffer from some kind of disordered eating or have had disordered thoughts when it comes to food. Basically meaning that in today’s world, it’s normal. I too get anxiety and stress in regards to my own body and body image when scrolling through social media. And it’s hard not to put blame on food or the way I interact with it.
But I want you to know that food isn’t here to hurt you. If anything, food is here to help you live the most positive, and fulfilling life. It doesn’t want to hurt you or put unnecessary stress on you. Food is a part of our heritage and culture. It’s one of the most connective elements in our daily lives. Food helps us cultivate tradition and bonds us to those we share it with.
There Is No Right Way to Eat
This may sound a bit hypocritical to all of the “diet and lifestyle” advice out there. But there isn’t a “correct” way to eat. All kinds of people, with all kinds of different bodies, eat in all kinds of different ways. It’s actually pretty cool if you think about it. We hear stories of success everywhere we turn. There are those thriving living a paleo lifestyle. And then there are those finding fulfillment trying the ketogenic-based lifestyle. There are those of us thriving as vegetarians and vegans. Plant-based is the newest food trend. And heck, there are those who simply follow an 80/20 mentality.
When it comes to food, I think the most important thing is finding what works the best for your body and fits in with the life you want to live. But to do that, it’s going to take some trial and error. You may find it best to try an elimination diet (like the Whole 30). Or get your blood tested or do an allergy test to see which foods you’re intolerant to (something that can make a WORLD of a difference). Maybe that means you try some of these different eating styles for a set period of time to see which one makes you feel your best. Or maybe you work a combination of them into your everyday life.
But We Need to Consume Nutrient Dense Foods Too…
The one thing I will stress a bit though is that we collectively need to eat foods that work with and for our body rather than against it. And I’m not saying you can never have a cheeseburger or hotdog again. Rather I’m encouraging you to grill up some veggie kabobs with your meaty entrée.
Science and research have proved time and time again that we need a balance of macro/micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to maintain and achieve positive health. Most fruits and vegetables are in their prime right now. So try getting a bit creative in the kitchen and use these natural flavors to create delicious meals. Dive on down the rabbit hole on Pinterest and find some recipes that actually excite you! The more you incorporate these powerhouse foods into your diet, the more you’re going to crave them. Call me crazy, but seriously, it happens.
The Cycle of Health
As you continue to make these healthier choices in regards to food, you’re going to open up a whole new world of positive health. And not just physically, I’m talking mental health too. When you begin to make changes that you know are going to help your overall health, and not just your aesthetic, you’re going to continue wanting to make these choices in all aspects of your life.
It’s a cycle, and maybe this is the “Sally Sunshine” in me talking, but this positive cycle of wellness and health can be a pretty fun ride. It doesn’t always go fast. Sometimes we need to take a day off, but once you feel the thrill, it gets harder and harder to not want to return to the ride.
Body Talk: The Underlying Message
When we stop looking at our bodies as shapes, or as a weight, everything can start to change. If we can take a step back and remember that our bodies do everything for us, we can begin to appreciate it a bit differently. Our goals should be to aim for health, happiness, and fulfillment. Not a number or a size. It’s amazing what can happen when we can make that switch. And again, it’s not always the easiest switches, but my goodness is it the most rewarding.
The next time you are having an issue or negative thought about food, I want to remind you that it’s okay to have that thought in the first place. I don’t want you to judge yourself at that moment. It happens to the best of us. And if you find this happening often, I hope you give us a call. We all deserve to have healthy, and loving relationships with ourselves – and yes, that includes the body we live in.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about the ways in which we can support you.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Chelsea Foster LPC has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University. She also has a Masters of Education in School Counseling as well as a Sports Counseling Certificate from the California University of Pennsylvania. Chelsea is also a National Certified Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor.
She believes that when the proper therapeutic relationship is established, individuals will gain knowledge and trust in themselves to be able to solve problems now and in the future. It is her goal to help you feel supported and empowered to make choices and changes that align with your authentic self. Every single one of us, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, is unique and deserving of unconditional positive regard and respect. It will be her role to provide a safe, trusting, and therapeutic environment for that change to occur.