Here’s a hard truth: most of us are not living in alignment with what we truly value. That was certainly true for me. And it’s been the case for most of my clients – women who are extremely high-performers and incredibly successful in almost every area of their lives… except for their relationships with food. Because of this drive to perform, achieve, overcome and control… food has become the part of their lives where they feel completely out of control. It has become an outward reflection of a deep inner disconnection, an ungroundedness they don’t yet understand and therefore can’t address. The solution? Embracing the unique elements in life that create wellbeing for them, and in other words, learning their own individual sources of Authentic Nourishment™ which is a values-based approach.
A value-based approach to our relationship with food requires us to delve deep and question what we truly hold dear. It demands a level of honesty with ourselves that may feel unfamiliar or even uncomfortable. What is it that we value most in this life? And do our choices reflect that? We need to probe these questions sincerely because the answers lie at the foundation of our journey to authentic nourishment.
Maybe we say that we value connection and relationship most, but we are not feeling connected to those around us. Maybe we say that we value freedom but we are showing up daily to a soul sucking 9-5 job with a micromanaging boss. Or we purport to value adventure, but we’re stuck in fear, afraid to take that international backpacking trip we’ve been talking about. Each of these examples represents an unmet need or value – a disconnect. For many of us, food has become the substance that fills that gap for us. It has become our go-to for distraction, reprieve, reward, indulgence, and escape. If this resonates, it’s essential to explore the underlying issues that create these subconscious substitutions. Is our value for our own well-being reflected in our choices, or are our actions at odds with our stated values?
Many of us have become so entrenched in society’s expectations of us that we’ve lost our own voice and choice. Fulfillment is ours for the taking, but we can only do that through our own empowered choice. So, we evaluate: are our lifestyles genuinely reflective of our deepest aspirations? Or do our daily choices indicate a different set of priorities – ones that may not even be our own?
For many of us, the idea of prioritizing ourselves and even slowing down to assess this feels daunting, even impossible. The result is that we allow our relationship with food to become the one area of our lives where we feel out of control and powerless, indulging in unconscious unhealthy habits as a substitute for fulfillment and genuine self-care. Feeling lonely? Order takeout. Not fulfilled in a relationship or wishing you had one? Night time or binge eat. Busy with work? Drive-thru and eat in your car. Sad or stressed? Sugar. No time to rest? Caffeine. No time to relax? A few cocktails won’t hurt. No time to do that full workout? Might as well not try at all!
Put simply: we are disconnected from ourselves and we don’t see the reasons for our lack of fulfillment, so we look to food to make us feel better.
These types of false choices represent a disconnect from what brings us true joy. Binge eating, overeating, sugar, soda, and wine (among other things) are poor substitutes for what we are truly craving. We’ve become estranged from our authentic selves, from our deepest desires, and from the things that truly bring us joy. Because our lives are burdened with excessive obligations, stress, work, and stimulation, they lead us to a pervasive sense of dis-ease – a profound lack of ease.
This dis-ease is not solely a product of our food behaviors; it’s a symptom of our lifestyles. It’s the root cause of our troubled relationship with food. This dis-ease manifests in our inability to say no, to establish boundaries, to honor our authentic selves. When we fail to meet our own needs, it’s all too easy to misuse food as a misplaced solution.
Authentic Nourishment™ is aptly named because it is designed to empower you to realign with your true identity, the real you who lives in accordance with your own values. It’s not about dieting strategies or nutritional mechanics. It’s about fostering a relationship with food that mirrors and supports your authentic self. To embark on a journey towards authentic nourishment is to commit to a journey of self-discovery, self-respect, and self-love. It’s a transformative journey that empowers us to reclaim control and to nourish ourselves in the truest sense of the word.
Throughout our lives, every individual embarks on their own unique Weight and Body Image Journey trapped in a world shaped by both intrinsic and external influences. We come to the table (literally!) with a complex web of programming – woven from our food history, societal expectations, and personal experiences. This programming subtly (and not-so subtly) shapes our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs around health, body image, food, and wellness.
The journey (or cycle) looks like this:
The first stage of our life’s Weight and Body Image Journey sees us confronting our current reality. We find ourselves governed by habits that have gradually carved out our path and determined our current state of health and body image. These habits usually encompass our relationship with food, our level of physical activity, our stress management techniques, our sleeping patterns, and our self-care practices.
The second stage is characterized by a mounting sense of dissatisfaction. We aspire to be thinner, to shrink ourselves down to the ‘ideal’ sizes and shapes dictated by societal standards. We reduce our well-being down to numbers – how many pounds to lose, what size we should fit into, how many macros we should be consuming, and more. We become ensnared in the mechanics of weight loss, as defined by a diet culture that emphasizes numerical targets over holistic wellness.
Our dissatisfaction drives us to action in the third stage. Armed with diet plans, exercise regimens, and endless willpower, we force ourselves to ‘do the work’. We engage with the mechanics of change, meticulously counting, measuring, restricting, and controlling our bodies in a relentless pursuit of ‘success’.
Upon achieving our numerical targets in the fourth stage, we might feel a fleeting sense of victory. We’ve achieved our goals, hit the targets, and claimed the numbers we so desperately sought. But this victory is always short-lived.
The fifth stage sees us begin to falter. The rigid mechanics we’ve been adhering to become unsustainable, and we start to ‘slip’. Our old habits creep back in, dragging us back to the beginning of the cycle. This time, however, we’re burdened with additional guilt and shame – the bitter aftermath of perceived failure.
Breaking free from this relentless cycle requires a fundamental shift in focus. We need to stop fixating on the mechanics and start addressing the real work: the inner and outer aspects of wellness. The inner work involves shifting our mindset, engaging with our emotions, and understanding our psychological patterns. The outer work focuses on nurturing a healthier relationship with food, cooking, physical activity, sleep, and stress management.
This approach empowers us to redesign our habits not with the goal of achieving arbitrary numerical targets, but with the aim of aligning with our ideal selves. This is not about fitting into society’s mold, but about embracing our authenticity and living in harmony with our values. It’s about nurturing a relationship with our bodies and our health that’s rooted in respect, compassion, and self-love. It’s about rewriting our narrative and redefining our journey on our own terms. This is how we start living lives of Authentic Nourishment™.