Does striving to live a healthier lifestyle completely overwhelm and stress you out? Does the thought of entering a grocery store give you loads of anxiety? Are you super hard on yourself and your body, often punishing yourself or guilt-tripping after eating “too much?” When did eating healthy become so darn complicated, anyway?
Good question. For some reason, our culture has created this complication and stress around food, and what it means to be “healthy.” The constant marketing claims and diet fads out there don’t help either! So what are we left with? Lots of confusion, stress and anxiety which is enough to make anyone lose their mind. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to feel so hard after all.
I first realized that food (and following a healthy lifestyle) is actually really quite simple while studying abroad in Italy my sophomore year of college. I was living in the lovely region of Reggio Calabria, surrounded by the Italian locals, markets, a great sense of culture, and yes lots and lots of food. I still remember the anxiety I felt the weeks leading up to my trip. What will I eat? Will all the carbs make me fat? I’m going to gain so much weight! Do you think my apartment will have a scale?
Boy was I wrong about my apprehensions. Not only did I lose weight (yes, 10 pounds!) during my trip, but for the first time I was able to see food (and healthy living for that matter) in a totally different light. Today, I share with you 4 takeaways I learned from my European getaway, and how you can do the same!
1. Find Time To Unplug: Each afternoon after lunch, we took part in a long siesta, where everyone is encouraged to go home, rest and be with family. Essentially, the entire city shuts down (the restaurants, the shops, the boutiques) so that people can relax at home with loved ones. While at first I found this a bit odd, by day 3 I was a huge fan of this practice! Our culture is always so go-go-go, and we’re told to work hard, make money and push ourselves to be better. While it’s great to have motivation, we also need to remember to let go, unwind, unplug and simply be. Not only does this affect how you show up in your life and your relationships, but it also affects our food choices. If you are feeling calm & grounded, you are going to be making much better choices for your body than if you are stressed out & uneasy. Throughout my trip in Italy, I felt totally relaxed, and therefore felt relaxed around food too.
2. Eat Mindfully: We’re so obsessed with what we are eating, and so rarely take a look at how we are eating. While I had never really paid much attention to this until my trip, I now know that how we eat our food is just as if not more important than what’s on our plates. As I watched the local patrons eat, I saw that they ate their meals slowly without any distractions. They also paused between bites and thoroughly chewed their food. While there, I picked up on this calm, stress-free way of eating that they portrayed so well, and for the first time in my life was able to eat mindfully. Eating this way allows for you to become more in tune with your body, knowing exactly what it wants and needs.
3. Appreciate Your Food: One of the first thing I noticed about the Italians eating behaviors was that they truly and completely appreciate their food, and put a whole lot of love into it too! Their plates are pretty, their food is fresh and their portions are just enough (nothing like our Americanized take on Italian food at all). Even more, they really celebrate the food on their plates, and make it a joyous event where friends and family can come together as one. On one of my last weeks there, I was invited into one of the local’s homes to experience an authentic Italian meal. I was blown away by how grateful they were to have me as their guest, and was fully able to soak up the experience. And guess what? The food tasted better that way. I was enjoying the whole experience, rather than thinking about how many calories I was consuming or if I was eating “too much fat.”
4. Eat Local, Seasonal & Fresh: Last but not least, the food in Reggio Calabria was mostly local, seasonal and fresh. I mean can you really get any better than that? My bread and fruit was purchased from local markets, I ate fish that was caught that day and the pasta there was hand-made with simple, real ingredients. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know how much I’m an advocate for eating real food. That is, food made with real, pure ingredients rather than artificially flavored, fat-free, microwavable “food” from a box. Go for the real deal and the stress over what to eat will slowly melt away, as your body begins to reap the benefits of true nourishment.
What if you could live a life where food didn’t consume your thoughts, stress you out and make you feel GUILTY all the time? Where you knew the best foods to eat for your unique body type & lifestyle? You’re in luck! I’ve created a “Food Stress to Success” 28-Day Jumpstart Program that’s been specifically designed to the gal who wants to go from stressed to confident about her food choices in less than a month! Sign up to receive your FREE 15-minute Breakthrough Session today to get things rolling!