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Attitude and Your Choice of Food — Holistic Healthy Living

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Healthy foods — with ATTITUDE!

Think healthy living. What comes to mind? If you're like a lot of people, you immediately think about diet and exercise. Skip the fries, eat your veggies, and walk around the block a couple of times.

That will help. Usually.

But it's not the whole enchilada!

Diet and exercise are integral parts of a healthy lifestyle, it's true. Yet there's much more involved. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported (May 3, 2006) that common parameters like obesity, smoking, and alcohol use didn't explain the difference in health status between a group of British citizens, who fared better, and their less healthy American counterparts.

It's likely that stress is an unexplored factor that accounts for much of the difference. One important piece of the stress puzzle, especially when it comes to healthy food choices, is attitude! In other words, if you're selecting healthier foods under duress, they may not do you as much good as you'd like.

Ruth's favorite cup of tea

My former client "Ruth" provides a great example. Ruth had moved to the U.S. from Europe, leaving behind her family, friends, career, and the lifestyle she knew as home. She married a man with whom she shared a cultural heritage and little else. Before long, she became ill.

Ruth came to my bodywork practice to try and deal with the physical pain she felt, but it didn't take long to see that there was more going on. I referred her to another practitioner with a broader scope of practice, hoping he would help her get to the bottom of things.

On her next visit with me, Ruth was despondent. "He took away my tea!" she said.

A couple cups of common black tea a day had been providing Ruth what little comfort she'd been able to find in this foreign land, and now the practitioner had told her that she must cut them out of her diet forever. Furthermore, he'd filled her with such fear that even if she'd wanted to go ahead and drink them anyway, she couldn't do so without feeling she was pounding another nail in her own coffin.

Ruth's choice of an alternate beverage was no empowered one, that's for sure. She felt deprived, fearful, cheated, and betrayed. Furthermore, in this lonely life she'd resigned herself to, she had lost her one source of comfort. A simple cup of tea.

You see the situation, don't you? Ruth's feelings of deprivation and fear were doing her far more harm than the tea would have. If she really needed to stop drinking tea, she was going to have to find another source for the comfort and companionship her soul craved.

Comfort, companionship, playtime — or a snack?

Her situation is far from unique. It's not at all unusual for health & fitness participants in our wellness coaching program to express similar feelings. When we're successful in engineering a healthy change in food choices, it's because the participant has been able to identify the roles that certain foods have in their life and find another way to satisfy those needs.

For example, a person for whom food is a comfort will explore other ways to comfort herself, perhaps through an evening bathtime ritual or spending quiet time with friends. A person for whom sweets satisfy their "Inner Little Kid" might introduce more play into their life - taking up a craft or hobby, hitting the golfball, or going out for a bike ride.

When healthy eating is an empowered choice, though, it can be a great thing. Here's how it's done:

Tell yourself,

  • "By passing on these sweets today, I'm increasing the active time I'll have to spend with my grandchildren."
  • "By choosing grilled chicken salad over the burger and fries, I'm choosing health and vitality."
  • "When I make healthier choices, I'm modeling the behavior I want for my children and enhancing their lives as well as my own."

Start your kids off right by telling them,

  • "Every one of these carrots is helping to make your bones and muscles strong!"
  • "We'll all go out for a walk first thing when we get home in the evening. It'll help us relax so we can enjoy the time we have together even more."
  • "When we start the day with a healthy breakfast, it's easier for you to do well at school. You feel better about yourself when you're able to do your best. That makes me happy, too!"

Fear & deprivation just don't cut the mustard

As you continue with your healthy living program, check in with yourself from time to time. Watch for any signs that fear or deprivation are fueling your choices. If you notice either of those states creeping in, first of all congratulate yourself for your awareness! Then simply re-create yourself in a more powerful state.

Learn more about how attitude affects your health at Holistic Health and Language.

Elizabeth Eckert can help you explore how simple everyday choices create health - or undermine even the best of intentions. With a background that ranges from energy medicine to structural bodywork to developmental psychology, this "Stick-To-It Coach" has the experience to support you in creating the healthiest possible expression of — you!

For the latest in healthy living tips and information, subscribe to our free Healthy Living Update. Learn how you can "Transform Stress Into Power!"

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