Alphabetical guide to positive meals
A - Always be grateful
No matter what food is placed in front of you, you must be grateful for it. Whether you are eating out, at home, at a friends place, at work or a party we must always be grateful for it. When you learn to be grateful towards food, no matter the size or quality of food, your relationship towards food will improve. Food will become a positive thing, and you will begin to value every mouthful and understand how lucky we are compared to other poorer parts of the world. Don't waste what's in front of you.
B - Be engaged
When it comes to mealtimes you have to become fully aware with what's on your plate. Notice the colours, textures, types of foods, tastes and flavours in front of you. If you learn to engage yourself at meals times, you will begin to listen to your body, and appreciate food more.
C - Choose your mindset
How you see mealtimes is your choice, it's completely up to you in how you allow your mind to see food. Don't let illogical eating disorder/mental illness thoughts or disordered food related beliefs take over. You can chose to be positive or negative with meals, grateful or fearful, even when you have an eating disorder you still have the ultimate choice on how you want your mindset to be at mealtimes… so choose a positive one!
D - Dedicate time to eat
We must make time for meals. Eating regular meals is such an important part of our day because without them our bodies and concentration would burn out. So stop bringing your phone to meals, stop trying to revise as your tumble in mouthfuls, don't stand up while you eat, using your hands as bowls. Sit down at the table, with a plate, and cutlery, look at what's on your plate in front of you, don't try to multitask while you eat, otherwise you may eat unconsciously without gratitude or real meaning.
E - Enjoy your food
Food is there for us to enjoy. It was made for us to eat, it was made for us to survive, it was made to fuel us, but never forget it was also made for us to enjoy. Learn what flavours and tastes you like and incorporate them into your meals.
F - Focus on balance
There should be 3 main elements of food in your day to help keep a balanced diet: carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables. Which means each day should include portions of each, along with healthy fats and calcium either from dairy products or like myself, vegan alternatives. If you focus on a balanced diet and eating foods from each food group on the eat well plate you will learn to fuel yourself to the best of your ability.
G - Go with colour
Whenever you are cooking a meal, choosing a meal at a restaurant, or selecting your ingredients at the shops always go with colour. Never plate up a meal of only yellow, or red, always incorporated the colour wheel into your cooking, shopping or meal decisions. It's easy to add colour to meals, if you are at a restaurant and want to order a pasta dish but it appears there are no greens, or vibrant colours, then order a side salad, if you are out food shopping reaching for tofu or hummus remember to always put fresh vegetables, tomatoes, beets, plums and whatever else into your basket along with them. As for when you are cooking a meal at home, you have full power to use as many colourful ingredients as you have available so don't hold back in creating a colourful plate.
H - Honour your body
Your body is phenomenal, honestly is amazing what our bodies can do. The repair work that goes inside us will forever boggle me, our ability to heal, grow and nurture ourselves sometimes comes down to the power of food itself. Make sure you honour your body by providing it with the greatest foods, and most nutritious meals.
I - Ignore calorie counting
So many of us get it wrong by overly focusing on calories, believing that they are our main importance. I believed this way for quite sometime, but now I see that calories have different values when compared to their nutritional value. A biscuit may be 50 calories and a fresh apple may be 70, which means the apple has more calories so many would opt for the lower calorie option despite the fact that the apple has a lot more nutrients and goodness for our bodies. Don't get me wrong biscuits aren't bad especially when they have heavenly tea with them, but never value calories over nutrients. I used to eat following calories and not following my intuition or initial cravings. Now I follow what I fancy, sometimes it’s a biscuit, sometimes it’s an apples, sometimes it a whole bowl of pasta, but whatever it is I follow it and I ignore the numbers attached to it.
J - Jazz up your food with spices
Please don't turn into one of those people who only eat plain potatoes, soup without spices and salads without dressings! Food is delicious when it's natural, and boiled potatoes are full of goodness as well as soups and salads and sometimes simple is best, although adding seasonings and spices doesn't lessen the nutrient value or goodness in the foods but actually can add benefits (add don’t forget taste!). Spices like turmeric, cinnamon and thyme have shown to have incredible benefits for our bodies health and beauty… and many spices are used in medicines! So if you have the opportunity to add a dash of this and a sprinkle of that... then do! It's easy to incorporate these flavourful herbs and spices, whisk them into dressings, on top of soups or roasted with potatoes.
K - Keep in mind all the goodness on your plate
Eat your meals by focusing on all the goodness in the foods. Don't just see your plate as carbs, protein and veg, but instead see it as building blocks of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins that are all going to help your beauty.
L - Listen to your body
Some days we are less hungry than others, other days we are more hungry. Some days we crave bread and other days we crave kale. Everything our body thinks means something. Perhaps our bodies calling out for a boost of omega-3 and fancies a chia pudding, other days our body may feel low in magnesium or iron and needs some power from dark green vegetables. More hungry than usual? Maybe you've been more mentally busy lately, or more physically active? If you feel less hungry than usual perhaps you have spent more time relaxing (which is never a bad thing). Anyway the lesson is just to learn to listen to your body and try to be instinctive while listening to its needs and what it's trying to tell you.
M - Meditate while you eat
Meditating while you eat is a great time to mediate. I suggest doing this when you are eating alone. Breathe deeply, keep a calm state of mind and allow your meditational mindset to influence your connection and gratitude towards your mouthfuls of food.
N - Never forget carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are one of the 3 main elements in a balanced diet and too many of us believe that in order to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight or even to become healthier we should simply eliminate carbohydrates from our diet. Well, it's not true, and it doesn't help, so don't do it! Avoiding carbohydrates simply makes you crave other things in replacement of what your diet is missing out on, which can often lead to uncontrollable cravings, which none of us want. Eating carbohydrates maintain our glycogen stores so that we have enough energy for exercise, which is incredibly important for our busy day to day lives, and without these stores our bodies would begin to burn muscle, which is another thing none of us want. Making sure you include carbohydrates into your diet also helps keep you satisfied for longer, eating things like bread, rice, quinoa, pasta, noodles, pulses and beans all contain a good amount of carbohydrates as well as nutrition which work together to keep your body fuelled and satisfied as well as having a good amount of fibre.
O - Open your tastebuds
If you limit yourself to particular foods you’ll end up either, bored, stuck, isolated, or incredibly picky. You need to be able to try different foods, be up for tasting new ingredients and excited to borden your diet. If you’ve never tried a type of vegetable then grab a fork and see what you think, a new exotic fruit on the shopping isles, why not try one? A new dipping sauce appearing on your kitchen table, a new homemade bake you wanted to make? Don't be afraid of trying new foods and discovering new ingredients, the worst the can happen is that you don't like it!
P - Pick your own produce
The only thing better than organic foods, are organic foods from your own garden. Be brave and plant your own tomatoes or strawberries, green beans or flowers even! You’ll be surprised at how well they may come out and taste, plus there any many varieties of flower petals that you can eat and put in salads. Or if it’s not your garden you use, explore the blackberry bushes at the end of summer and go blackberry picking, collecting all the wild berries.
Q - Question your emotions after meals
After meals ask yourself how you feel? Are you rushed with guilt, or flushed with fear? Are you injected with anxiety or filled with frustration at yourself? However negative or even positive you feel after meals you must acknowledge your emotions. Don't ignore them, but act on them and change them in to positives or keep them as positives if you are already there. It is possible, it's your choice how to feel, you don't need to be forced to feel guilty or scared about what you've eaten, it's not your voice shouting at you, but someone else's who isn't helping your beauty and you don’t need to listen to it or accept it!
R - Remember not to rush
When you eat you must try your hardest not to rush, even if you're busy. Always prepare what you are going to eat, wash the apple, pour in the milk, slice your sandwich into squares, plate up your food, take a seat and no matter how much time you have before you need to dash out the house… don't rush, don’t stand up and take time for your food… plus it makes it taste better!
S - Surround yourself at mealtimes with loved ones
The greatest way to enjoy meals is to fill them with family and friends. There's nothing wrong with eating alone, I do it often because of my schedule and sometimes we have to do it because of our timetables, different routines and busy lives, but I couldn't praise more how beautiful it is to enjoy food in the company of others. Meal times can be a social time, and food always plays a big role in special occasions like parties, Christmas, birthdays and reunions. Having close friends and family with you at meals times also offers the best support and the greatest distraction from negative thoughts. Whats better to help you forget about negative thoughts than sharing laughter at the table.
T - Throw away food myths
Just like the myth about "avoiding carbohydrates" there are many others out there which tell us about all the foods we should avoid which are in fact completely harmless, and in most cases amazing for our bodies. Don't listen to the myths in the media that circle certain foods, most of the time they aren't true.
U - Unite your body with your mind
When your mind listens to your body and your body listens to your mind, meals times will be a delight. When the two work together as one you will eat mindfully. If your body is tired your mind will think, "Lets have a rest, and have a nap on the sofa." When your mind is tired your body will think, "What should I feed myself to give my body a boost." Or even visa-versa depending on the ‘type’ of tiredness you feel. You will learn to rest and fuel yourself efficiently by the power from this connection.
V - Variety is key
Well, here's something you probably all know, that a varied diet is key to a balanced diet. No one can survive of one food or food group and truly be happy, soon they will begin to crave all the other food groups. All foods contains different amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat, with all types of different vitamins and minerals. It's impossible to get all your body's needs just from one food or food group. When your diet is full of different food groups you will consume the widest range of vitamins, superfoods, minerals and everything else to make sure you get everything you need. At the same time as stopping you to get bored or experience urgent cravings. Having a varied diet is multitasking to the max!
W - Welcome in different cuisines
Our world is beautifully bursting with different cultures, unique people and awesome food. In order to embrace the world fully you must embrace all the differences it provides, like the different cuisines. Make sure you don't restrict to only one cuisine, eating only English scones, pies or roast dinners, or only eating Italian pasta dishes and pizzas, don't be scared to explore the different tastes and flavours inside endless cuisines, jump the boat and taste the world beyond what you are used to.
X - X out skipping meals
That's right! Cross it out! Draw a bold black cross right over skipping meals. Which means no more running out of the house before breakfast, or not having enough time for lunch or snacks, yes that means tea time will always happen and night snacks can always be on the cards. If you regularly refuel your body your body will respect that, and begin to trust you again, which will stabilise your metabolic rate and more importantly stabilise your hunger. I am a huge example of this, I used to go hours without eating anything and would skip many meals, but all this did was drop my energy levels, lower my metabolism, and make me more prone to bingeing and having uncontrollable hunger pains and cravings. All of which I thought were helping my pursuit to happiness, but were actually only causing me to feel lifeless. Once I began to eat regularly again, my body began to trust that I was no longer going to make my stomach endlessly remain empty but that I was going to take care of myself. Skipping meals is a bad habit we should all try to get out of... so let's X it out.
Y - You’re in control
Your mental health is your everything. Without your own mind in control, life will remain difficult and you will always be untrue to yourself. Tell yourself you are in control, you are in control of your mind, your thoughts, your body, what you do, what you eat, how you care for yourself and how you care for others. The power is in your hands, don't search for control by restricting your diet, that's not control, that's only a game. This is your body, your mind and your soul. Don't allow an eating disorder to set up camp inside your mind, body or soul... it is private property and it is time they packed up and left.
Z - Zap away all negative thoughts
Imagine yourself with a glowing blue finger, filled with positive electricity. This finger you were born with you have only just discovered, it's been hiding away under your low self belief. Although now you finger is beaming with bright blue power, which will shoot positive thoughts straight into your brain while zapping out all the bad ones. Whenever a negative thought floats around in your head, simply rub your hands together and unleash the electricity inside you. Place your finger on your forehead temples, just like a magic wand, gently pressing until you feel the connection to your brain, then zap away and enjoy your meal, negativity free.