Making friends with food

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Listen, I’m just going to be really frank with this one. I know it’s a super-sensitive area and I know it’s a tricky one to tread into, but I’m just going to tell you my story and explain how I eat now.

Because, let’s be honest, does any woman have a truly good relationship with food? Nah, thought not.

But I have found a way of eating that works for me; and it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about, you know?

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I’m 44 and have only in the last few years learnt how to make friends with both my body and food.

So that’s where I’m coming from: as a woman who has battled and yo-yo-ed and been all over the place with her eating, but is finally as close as I think it’s possible to be to having food as a non-issue.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not smug about that; just slightly pissed at all the wasted years, you know?

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My food issues started as *fanfare of surprise* a teenager, when I still wanted my usual childhood sweeties, only now they made my belly pooch out in peculiar new ways.

I’d watch Beverley Hills 90210 and Dawson’s Creek and be so envious of those skinny girls and wonder how you got to look like that. At the time, I just didn’t understand that what was going into my mouth was having a direct effect on my waistline.

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Okay, so let’s shoot straight past Art College misery and eating entire cakes in one sitting crouched down in my wardrobe in case my roommate came in. Yep – true story, but hey: it wasn’t a pretty period in my life and I’m not there now, thank goodness.

So we’ll zip straight to the helpful stuff, because you know what? This thing isn’t as complicated or impossible as we’re led to believe.

People say to me sometimes, “Oh, I hate people like you who are naturally skinny.”

Well, here’s the thing: most people who are on the slenderer side are doing a whole lot of saying no. That’s just a fact: in this case, we don’t get to have our cake and eat it.

Weight creeps off and it creeps on: boring, but true.

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So: I have three keys to making friends with food. Here we go.

One: work out what you really want

I once read that to succeed in a healthy eating plan, you need to want to be slim more than you want the cake. And for me, that was key number one.

The cake tastes great, but I just feel better when I’m not overweight; for me, it was as simple as that. I want to feel okay in my skin more than I want the buzz of sweet treats.

(On this note, it’s worth examining the voices in our heads to see what false stories we’re telling ourselves that might be hampering our progress. Do you quietly believe that you don’t deserve to be a healthy weight? Do you tell yourself that you would never succeed so there’s no point in starting? Do you subconsciously imagine you might feel more vulnerable if you changed your shape?)

It’s worth being super-honest with yourself and really settling in your mind the path *you* want to take (and let’s be honest, where we feel most ‘us’ falls at completely different points on the scales and that’s fine).

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Two: every journey starts with a single step

It might feel like mission impossible, but just take one step. Say no to the cake you’re offered with your coffee and choose a banana instead.

Getting into the habit of saying no is so key – because after a while, it does become a habit and a whole lot easier. At first, you might feel deprived sitting in the coffee shop with your solitary Americano, but you’ll soon get used to it. Maybe take some nuts or seeds to nibble on instead.

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Three: have healthier things in your fridge & cupboards

If you can work out some replacements for unhealthy treats that *almost* do it for you (banana or cocoa smoothies, frozen yoghurt with fruit and nuts, fried banana with toasted seeds on top, porridge with honey and dark chocolate) they’ll soon start to become the foods you crave. Honestly.

Don’t ever let yourself get hungry. Your body is a machine that needs fuelling – don’t be mean to it. If you fancy something, go get it; just choose something that’s vaguely nutritious.

Stock your cupboards with good things – oats, veggies, fruit, yoghurt, eggs, rye bread, nut butters, seeds, frozen berries  – then when the munchies strike, you’ll be far less likely to reach for the sugary things.

If you want to pig out (and don’t we all at times? Bloomin’ hormones) just pig out on ‘all-you-can-eat’ good stuff.

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I’ve posted this under ‘simplicity’ because it’s not rocket science, is it?

But I tell you what: it’s so good for this to finally be a non-issue so I can just get on with life. Because we don’t need to be held back by this crap, do we?

Honestly, girls: best tip ever? Make friends with food today and go have fun thinking about the truly interesting things in life, because seriously: life’s just too short to be beating ourselves up over custard creams.