I know that my blog readership isn't exactly the insecure materialistic type. But I think that, to a certain degree, all women carry a certain amount of insecurity and anxiety. I know I do, even though the amount I carry now is significantly less than when I was in college. If you still fell insecure (particularly about your body and the way you look) you NEED to read the above post. Ironically, I was about to delete all the gluten free blogs in my RSS feed because we no longer have wheat issues in our house. And I clicked on this post by accident- I meant to click the post below it, but was on my ipad and missed my target. Call it fate, but this is an amazingly well written post that I think will hit home for many women (go ahead, go read it if you already haven't...).
I also want to add something that isn't so much about body image itself, but about dieting (possibly in relation to body image) and it's affect on one's life.
Stop dieting! The next time you pick up a book or a women's magazine in the supermarket aisle with the headline "I lost 13 pounds in the first week" look at the eating plan it details and think "can I eat like this for the rest of my life? Do I want to?" Because unless the answer is a resounding "yes" there is no way you're going to stick with it. So you may or may not loose the weight, but you won't keep it off. Which will only make you more frustrated and further damage your body image and self worth. Why do we keep doing this? I admit, I was as guilty as the next woman for most of my 20's. Now that I'm older and wiser (insert snicker here) I've realized the futility in these fad diets.
But that doesn't mean keep eating the way you're eating. I highly suggest you evaluate the things you eat every day not only in the way they affect your body, but how they affect your budget. Processed foods are bad for the body, bad for the waistline, AND bad for the budget. But don't try to change everything you eat overnight- I've tried that also, and I always got frustrated and failed. Only gradual change over time will stick. So pick one thing you think you can change for good and focus on that first. Once it has become a part of your routine, something you don't even have to think twice about, move onto your next goal.
And listen to your body when you eat. Does eating certain things make you feel cranky and sluggish? Keeping a food journal (no calorie counting!) for a few weeks can help you keep track- make sure you record mood and energy level fluctuations. If you're concerned about how even whole foods affect you, try a little exclusion (eliminate a possible offender for two weeks, then gradually reintroduce... start with wheat/gluten and dairy, they are the most likely offenders).
Suggestions to start with:
- Make all your grains whole (100% whole, not light brown colored bread... MOM)
- Eat fresh or frozen (or fermented, but this isn't really a beginner's step) veggies exclusively, not canned, and increase intake of veggies and fresh fruit.
- Eliminate processed foods. If you eat a lot of them, focus on a few at a time. For example (one I've had to do myself) replace convenience meats like frozen processed chicken nuggets with an easy to make homemade (and whole) substitute. I make a bunch on a weekend and freeze them so they're still convenient on busy weekdays.
- Cut (and vary) your meat intake. I'm not anti-meat OR anti-saturated fat. But I do think it's beneficial to your health, your budget, and the environment to cut back a little. Americans eat a staggering amount of meat, and most of the meat is grown unethically in feed lots. Start eating one or two meatless dinners a week. Make sure these meatless dinners include sources of fat and protein to replace the meat (legumes, butter, cheese, yogurt, oil, etc).
- Eliminate white sugar altogether (I have to admit that I keep white sugar in the house, but I only use it to can fruit, make jelly, and in a very few selected baked goods... and for company to put in coffee, etc). DO NOT replace it with splenda or other artificial sweeteners. In it's place use limited amounts of maple syrup or raw brown sugar (like rapadura...). Honey is okay in small amounts as it has it's own health benefits (especially if you're sick or have allergies), but it can cause blood sugar spikes similar to white sugar. And I'm not sold on agave nectar- at best it should be used with caution like honey.
- Soda is the devil. Diet or otherwise. That's all I'm going to say about that. No, not really. I'm going to say that lately my husband started drinking soda at work in the afternoon when his energy would flag. He hasn't drank soda (other than in an occasional mixed drink) in years, and in only a week or so he gained weight and started to feel crappy. I never said a word because we're actually on the same page when it comes to soda, but he pays attention to his weight, and when he noticed the gain he stopped drinking soda and instead started eating an orange in the afternoon. He says it works just as well AND he doesn't crash and feel like crap within an hour of consuming the orange, as he does with soda. Now, because I feel the need to support him strongly in this, we currently have like 25lbs of oranges in the refridgerator:)
And if you can master all of those steps (gradually) you will be well on the way to living a healthy life. You may even loose weight. But I promise it will change your life.