Have you ever considered how we expect the almost impossible from what we eat?
We want to be getting all the necessary nutrients, feel healthy and be mentally sharp without really having to consider any other factors that may be stopping us from achieving our goals. We want all the benefits we hope to get when we eat well without the work involved in making sure that good diet choices happen.
And we expect to be absolved from any responsibility for the bad habits that we’ve found ourselves slipping into simply by popping a few vitamin pills and downloading a new fitness App on our Smart phones.
Sadly, when we feel stressed or low making healthy choices about what we eat is often the first things to go.
Why is is so hard to eat well?
It’s Too Hard to Eat Well!
Maybe we’re working too hard and not getting enough sleep, but never mind. Tweaking our diet should solve that. Right? We’re drinking too much alcohol and eating too much junk food, but a quick detox and a couple of weeks of healthy eating should reverse all that and get us back on track. Right?
And there’s always an excuse for not eating as well as we know we should.
We’re time poor and so end up buying a snack to keep us going rather than making the effort to cook a balanced meal. Sound familiar? We’ve been working late and then catching up with the friends and family that we’ve hardly seen over the last 18 months due to the pandemic and so we’ve not made it to the supermarket for a few days and have been ‘forced’ to grab something on the run. Is this you?
Even in the seemingly endless Covid-related Lockdowns that have rolled over huge areas of Australia – and much of the rest of the world – this year, many of us felt very flat and took refuge in comfort-eating rather than seeing it as an opportunity to get our bodies and minds back on track. For many of us, the impulse to eat well was one of the first things to slide.
We baked (sourdough or cinnamon scrolls, anyone?!), drank and indulged in take aways and then were disappointed in our food choices when we jumped on the bathroom scales – as if it was the food itself that had betrayed us!
Well we’ve all been through an awful lot over the past 20 or so months and the first thing that we all need to do is be nice to ourselves and to stop with the guilt and self-blame.
Be Gentle on Yourself
I live in Melbourne and I can honestly say that most people that I know have very little memory of huge swathes of 2021, or even 2020.
That’s because very little happened to make them memorable.
Weeks of one hours’ exercise with one ‘exercise buddy’.
The challenges of home-schooling younger children or the endless pep-talks needed to get older kids through exam revision or to convince them that doing a Uni course that they are paying a lot of money for really is worth it – even from their bedrooms.
The weirdness of seeing your ‘Zoom face’ for hours on end and the realisation that you no longer notice the speech delay when talking to work colleagues via a computer screen.
The irritation of walking half-way to your local shops and having to turn back (muttering under your breath with the neck of your T-shirt pulled up over the bottom half of your face) because you’ve just realised that you’ve forgotten your mask….
Pass me the gin and the chips!
And even if you’ve managed to eat well, keep busy and feel you’ve pretty much managed to hold it together, the chances are that your are ‘languishing’ to some extent. As friends of mine who are psychologists have been quick to point out, the mental toll that the Lockdowns have taken on all of us are hard to measure.
For more on languishing, please see here.
2022 Reset – Eat Well and Live Better
So why not see the approach of 2022 as an opportunity to reset?
I’m not generally a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but as 2021 winds up I’m planning to adopt a few achievable goals that I hope will set me up for a brighter 2022.
I can’t predict how the Covid pandemic will play out and I’ve no idea what the new Omicron variant of the Corona Virus will mean for humanity, but I can control my diet and exercise goals and I know that if I can get them working for me, I’m bound to feel better about everything else.
Because this is the Catch-22. You feel rubbish, so you eat rubbish and you feel more rubbish because you’re eating rubbish and… You know how this one goes.
So I’m not aiming for anything too huge or daunting. Baby steps suit me fine for now as I know I’m still pretty fragile. But I plan to enjoy the festive season, ring in the New Year and then start to reign in the worse of my eating habits.
A few less snacks, a little less sugar and a couple more alcohol-free nights a week to start with.
Some people need to go all out and do a cleansing diet or fast to reset their bodies, but I’m going to take it slow. I’m going to cut the excesses, eat well, get outside and exercise just a little bit more.
And you never know. I may even open up that new fitness App that I’ll no doubt download and give it a go!