For many girls these days, one of the foremost mental distractions that also causes the most dissatisfaction and impact on our day to day lives is a preoccupation with weight, more specially weight loss. It is completely exhausting, and damaging to the self-esteem, constantly hating our bodies.
I have had my struggles with my weight over the years spanning back to my preteens when I first became aware that I was different than the other kids as school, I was overweight, and I was teased and made to feel shameful and unworthy as a person. Women have such amazing skills and strengths that we can offer up as contribution to the betterment of this world but the majority of us are more concerned with thigh gaps and having abs then we are global environmental issues, political issues, equality, interpersonal relationships and self-growth, what a shame and what a waste of our brilliance, and I am among the guilty.
My personal struggle was intensified when I was faced with the changes of my body during pregnancy and what I call the aftermath of destruction having children left on my self-worth and self-esteem. Of course I did all the wrong things during my pregnancy, with no one to guide me, I indulged in everything and anything I could put in my mouth (it was my right as a pregnant woman and what I had seen in movies and thought to be normal) not realising the detrimental and irreversible impact it was having on my body and the health risks to my child.
I’ve written before on my blog about my struggle with Post-Partum Depression and whilst there are many factors to why I was diagnosed and suffer from the condition, a huge part can be attributed to my mental struggle in coming to terms with a body that I HATED! Now mother, or not, women everywhere are known for hating our bodies, and from a first-hand account let me tell you, It is exhausting!
There is what I like to think of as food confusion, just considering my past efforts in weight loss and the continual stream in (miss)information, the majority of us really have no idea what we’re doing when It comes to weight management. We tend to over complicate the process, and for me personally, develop very unhealthy habits both physically and mentally, catapulted by an intense desire and desperation for the quick fix, reaching for fad diets and eating disorders. Unfortunately we live in a money driven world, where people can capitalise on our desperation and confusion to sell us products and ideas that are detrimental to our physical and mental health.
So through all the confusion, and difficulties that I myself have been through this is what I have learnt when it comes to the connection between mental health, Nutrition and Body Positivity
What you eat is what you are!
By which I mean if you eat good healthy wholefood plant based nutrient dense foods your body will thrive inside and out, good skin is the homoeostasis that our body is trying to achieve, a healthy body weight is desirable beyond aesthetics, it is what keeps us healthy happy and most importantly ALIVE.
Gut Health is very important and has a direct link to your mental health and overall vitality and happiness. Essentially if you have poor gut health, where the gut lining is impaired and toxins and the likes can pass into your blood stream causing all over inflammation which is believed to cross the blood brain barrier hence the negative impact on mental health. Increasing both prebiotics and probiotics and limiting toxins, carcinogen and inflammatory foods the overall benefit exceeds more than our good moods but aids the body with healthy functionality and lessens oxidative stressors (which leads to premature ageing might I add).
We are Energy
Whether you believe in the law of attraction, chi, or the likes, science cannot deny that the body is a source of energy which is emitted through basal bodily functions and voluntary processes like thought and movement. If you only take away one thing, let it be to stop hating your body, the energy (quite literal energy, emotion is energy in motion) you exert every time you are dissatisfied with your body, limits any positive progress you might achieve either physically or mentally towards better body positivity. So fix your posture, add movement and exercise into your routine because of its positive health benefits and not as a form of punishment because you don’t look the way you would like. The funny thing is if you love your body it will love you back and respond to the kind treatment such as eating the right foods, exercising and meditating, rather than adding extra stress by hating it. Your body is nothing without the mind, and the mind nothing without the body!
Don’t do things when…? Don’t wait to love your body when you are at your goal weight, don’t wait to eat healthfully without restriction and guilt once you have lost the weight, because the day will never come. Start by taking care of yourself, and start straightaway. Start telling your body that you are appreciative and look at yourself and see the beauty that is there in its uniqueness that is yours alone. Feed yourself, stop restricting and counting and punishing yourself for what is a basic human need, that is nourishment, without which your body can not effectively perform both physically and mentally. By feeding yourself a varied nutrient dense plant based diet, you are feeding your ‘happy’ you are giving your body what it needs to think rationally, balance emotions and increase serotonin which of course aids in any mental difficulties emotional or otherwise that you might have. You cannot have one without the other, they each follow into and aid one another, so don’t work on just health or just weight or just happiness to have a overall positive body image you need to incorporate all three into your life. Don’t be another statistic of skinny fat, beautiful yet with body dysmorphia, beautiful on the outside but sick on the inside.
I guess the take-away message would be to listen to your body, trust your intuition, use logic and above all practice kindness in all things whether it be directed towards yourself, others and even the ‘product’ that ends up on our plate.