‘Make Health Your Lifestyle, Not Your Life,’ by Stefanie Jung

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Collaborating author: Stefanie Jung

Make health your lifestyle, not your life: 4 ways to stop obsessing over your diet

If you look at statistics, it’s obvious that we as a society don’t eat nearly healthy enough. So I’m all about encouraging people to eat better.

But the thing is: there’s a very thin line between eating healthy food because it makes you feel better and becoming overly obsessed about your diet.

The moment your life begins to revolve around how many calories you eat, which micronutrients you might be lacking and whether it’s OK to eat carbs past 6pm, then you’ve probably taken it too far.

In my early attempts of building the “perfect body”, food (and exercise) controlled my life. Every waking minute was consumed with thoughts about food. I would skip social occasions in order to avoid food and I’d lie in bed every evening feeling guilty about any unhealthy choices I had made throughout the day. Even if that unhealthy choice was only one small piece of dark chocolate, it would make me feel like a failure.

Don’t get me wrong, some people have no trouble whatsoever with meal plans; they even thrive on them. If that’s you, then that’s awesome and I encourage you to continue doing what you enjoy.

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t wired that way. I know I definitely am not. Back then, if I ate one thing that that was off my meal plan, I would think I was “weak and lacking in willpower” and punish myself by being extra strict on myself the next day.

This mentality often had me go on binges for weeks on end, because I thought “The week is ruined because I ate an unhealthy snack, so I might as well give up completely.”. Then, after a couple of weeks of eating extremely unhealthy, I’d be riddled with guilt and force myself to go on some new sort of meal plan again. And so the cycle repeated itself, over and over again. It was a viscous cycle, really.

If you are nodding your head in agreement as you read this, chances are you have been taking your diet regime a bit too far.

Finding a healthy balance

We all want to be healthy, but at what cost? If you have been avoiding social gatherings because of the fear of food and feel guilt-ridden after eating something that doesn’t fit your plan, then maybe that cost has become a little bit too high.

If there is one thing I learnt throughout the last couple years, then it’s the following: being healthy is so much more than eating a nutrient-dense diet and exercising regularly.

It really comes down to forging the right mindset towards this lifestyle. You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you are doing it unconsciously without acknowledging the foods healing power and thanking yourself for nourishing your body, you will not thrive off the food. As much as it is about what you eat, it is also about how you eat.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you eat coming from a place of love or fear?
  • Do you view eating healthy as a way of showing your body respect or is to punish yourself?
  • Do you avoid social situations where you will be exposed to unhealthy food?
  • Do you feel guilty after eating foods that you didn’t account for?
  • Do you work out excessively after a day of indulging?

If your answers to these questions are yes, then maybe these four simple tips will help you:

  1. Simplify things: stop worrying if it’s better to have breakfast before or after your workout, if you can have carbs past 6pm and if you should have 15% or 20% daily protein intake. Eating should be fun and intuitive, don’t overcomplicate things.
  2. Listen to your body: I’m a big believer in bio-individuality. One man’s food might be another man’s poison. Instead of trying to find THE perfect diet, start listening to the signs that your body is telling you. Those signals might change over the weeks, months and years, and that is OK. You don’t have to stick to one way of eating for the rest of your life, as your needs change throughout the years and season.
  3. Try new things: When we stick to the same routine for so long, we run the risk of becoming to obsessed with it. So get out of your comfort zone and try new recipes or funky ingredients from time to time. Have fun in the kitchen!
  4. Stop trying to label your diet: People nowadays have this need to categorize people and themselves according to their way of eating. I personally think this just causes unnecessary pressure and can lead to eating disorders or even orthorexia. Know that it is OK to not be 100% raw, vegan, paleo, gluten free etc. and that you don’t need to fit into one specific category. Food is food, not a religion.

If you want to learn more about my journey towards a healthy mindset around food, you might be interested in this post about my search for the perfect diet.

About Stefanie Jung:  After her battle with and triumph over anorexia and bulimia, the now passionate health advocate  and holistic health coach Stefanie Jung is helping young girls and women overcome their own struggles. She knows the value of the right mindset when it comes to serious lifestyle change and is using her blog Wholesome Stef to spread this positive message. As a health coach, she is working on empowering her clients to live their life to the fullest by being the healthiest and happiest version of themselves. It is her goal to help others find their own health equilibrium through sharing her experience, education, lifestyle tips and delicious recipes.