Years ago, I remember thinking of food as a 'reward.' Long, strenuous workout? Reward myself with food! Long day at school? Reward myself with food! An emotional conversation that went awry? Where's the food pantry?
You get the idea. I had a very frayed relationship with food where I solely regarded it as my kind of therapy. Before I got into group fitness, I unabashedly hated exercise. Every other day when I'd work out, my stomach would be in pain each morning dreading that hour or two of misery. I would envision eating junk food throughout the duration to make it a little less miserable. During those years, my poor sense of self coupled with teenage angst also made me turn to food far too often. I was not mindful about the food I was ingesting, but longed for that short-term release that came with the less than nutritious food in my pantry.
As a wellness professional, I've learned the importance of developing a healthy relationship with food and learning to eat mindfully. I was an emotional eater for years, and the 'reward' of food also came with guilt, sadness, and regret. Instead of framing my intake as a 'reward' I frame it as nourishment. I may love exercising, but there are still days that I struggle to get to the gym. Instead of seeing food as my saving grace, I consider the long-term impact of my post-exercise nutrition. What will support my muscle protein synthesis to ensure my body can recover after body pump? What foods will provide lasting energy after a HIIT workout so I'm not crashing in an hour? Holistic health is about nourishing yourself with intention and purpose. Not a reward, but, rather something that will support my digestion, metabolism, mood, immune system and mental well being.