Have you sought pleasure today? Food and feelings

I just love articles like this…

Livestrong reporter August McLaughlin reflected on German philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach’s comment: “Man is what he eats.”

After I just lost the battle to half a bag of Grandma’s cookies, I agree. (As in Grandma by Frito Lay. My grandmother makes amazing oatmeal raisin cookies that I will never feel bad about eating. Scrumptious!)

McLaughlin called that statement the mantra of modern-day fitness and nutrition gurus in describing the effect that food has on the body. But she believes that dietary habits can affect more than just the physical self; they can also make or break a person’s self-esteem.

I agree. When I’m faced with the decision to get a turkey sandwich from Subway or a greasy cheeseburger from Sonic, I always feel better about myself when I choose a fresh sandwich instead of a fast food burger.

No matter how badly I wanted that burger, I never regret NOT eating it. Sometimes, I also don’t regret eating it. Depends on the day… and I’m working on the guilt thing.

In Nourish Your Body, Nurture Yourself, McLaughlin describes several guidelines and opinions about nourishing your body to nurture your own life.

First, Seek Pleasure
What excites you? Makes you laugh or smile? When is the last time you “played?” These are not questions you ask when considering your diet and physical health.

In her book – The Emotional Energy Factor: The Secrets High-Energy People Use to Beat Emotional Fatiguepsychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum explored energy and emotional fulfillment. Her conclusions found that 70 percent of a person’s total energy is related to emotion. (Makes sense to me!)

Feeding your emotional self with activities, relationships and practices you enjoy is more important than any other factor in promoting energy and well-being.

And your diet should promote pleasure. Stanley J. Gross, a psychologist and author of Pathways to Lasting Self-Esteem, said developing the ability to experience pleasure when you desire it.

How in the world do I do that? Getting past the point where I find THAT impossible to the realm of “can actually happen” sounds hard.

I still have problems enjoying chocolate after I’ve eaten it.

 Don’t Let DIET Be a Verb
Are you eating a healthy diet, or are you dieting?

According to the article, dieting typically promotes deprivation of favorite foods, entire nutrient groups or sufficient amounts of calories. It can pose serious damage to self-worth.

 I believe it. No matter how badly I want to try a raw food diet, I know I never could. I love cooked food too much and feel that taking it away would be counterproductive even if it’s healthier for my body in the long run.

So what do I do? What would you do?

Try it? Half it?

Registered dietician Ellen Reiss-Goldfarb warns dieters to avoid deprivation because it leads to disordered thinking and, possibly, bingeing. Instead, tell yourself you are worthy of healthy foods but also have the right to enjoy occasional indulgences.

I still don’t know how to make the raw food thing work. Ho-hum!

Breakfast for a Better Life
(Finally, something I am good at!) Skipping breakfast is NOT a sign of self-control, Gross said. However, the low blood sugar levels, moodiness and excessive hunger that follow do not promote a healthy life.

Starting each day with self-care (breakfast) might strengthen your willingness to care for yourself the remainder of the day. (Nutra Grain bar commercials?)

While the article recommends something amazing – old-fashioned oats topped with low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit and toasted almonds – I will probably stick to my shredded wheat, skim milk and sliced banana.

Although, lately, it’s been honey nut something or other.

Take Aim at Toxins
Do specific foods trigger poor self-esteem?

French fries.

According to the article, no specific food does. A generally unhealthy diet rich in added sugars, saturated fat and preservatives, however, does not fuel positivity. Every meal and snack provides an opportunity to make a healthy or unhealthy decision and to seek pleasure or not. What you choose makes a difference.

For example, consider the balance of two vital nutrients in the typical diet: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids – both of which are essential to human health. However, we tend to consume too much omega-6 and too little omega-3, which leads to increased inflammation and may dampen hormonal levels and moods.

Vegetable oils – safflower, corn and sunflower – and meat are loaded with omega-6. Fish, flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil may help relieve depression, hormonal imbalances and infertility and are also loaded with omega-3.

Get this! By eating primarily fresh, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you are taking care of your body AND bolstering self-esteem because those foods boost feel-good brain chemicals.

Raw food diet? I might have to now. I could use some more self-esteem.

Reach Out to Rise Up
The article said that focusing on the internal aspects of physical and emotional health can lead to neglecting external factors like support. Emotional support – from a spouse, family member, best friend or therapist – is important to make lasting healthy changes.

J. Scott Shonka, personal trainer and lead drill instructor at Extreme Boot Camp in Santa Monica, Calif., said, “Eat and exercise with a friend with similar goals who cheers you on. Anyone who puts you down is bad news.”

Finally, the article offers this: “Addressing underlying emotional issues before or while making dietary changes is also important. If you carry excess body weight, diet compulsively, have disordered attitudes about your body and food or frequently turn to food to cope with emotional stress, seek therapy that addresses your emotional and behavioral health.”

That’s really important advice. Eating and dieting disorders can cause serious self-esteem problems and health problems.

The article proved to me how much my happiness with myself – my body, my self-esteem and my attitude – really depends on the choices I make, especially with food. I want my choices to reflect my happiness, and I really want to try this concept of seeking pleasure. Sounds fun…

No more Grandma’s cookies. Sheesh.

On the fitness front I am doing well!

How do you seek pleasure?
I might steal your ideas.

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