You can’t STRESS your way to good health | Lisa Steingold

You can’t STRESS your way to good health

So the other day I went to a friend of mine for supper. She’s active and very health conscious so I knew that UBER healthy was on the menu.

I’m down with UBER healthy food like whole grain rice and grilled vegetables. In fact, I generally love veggies but when I can’t have salt, then I’m not the happiest of campers. I asked if there was salt and I was told I need to be careful eating salt because salt is bad for you. I asked for cheese and was told cheese is bad for you. I asked for honey for my tea (coffee was not available:-) and was told that honey has a VERY high sugar content.

If you know me by now you know that I believe in the JOY of food and due to my experience with Carbs, Curves & Everything in Between, I don’t rule out anything.

As dinner wore on I began to get more and more stressed. I left feeling like every single thing I’d ever put in my body was going to kill me. I was only too thankful to have a Snickers in my handbag for the walk home. I generally (and REALLY) actually prefer dark chocolate but the Snickers was extremely welcome.

Then I remembered I didn’t need to stress. I remembered the time I wrote the book Carbs & Curves and how I had begun to discover real joy in food and actually in living.

I remembered the time my sister and I took my dad hot air ballooning and what a lovely champagne breakfast we had. I remembered all the times in my life I’ve felt joyful. How could a joyful event like that possibly lead to my downfall or even my death?

The whole story made me think and also lead to me writing this post. I wanted to say…

When I’ve wanted to, in the past decrease my consumption of something for example sugar, I find it more helpful to understand why it is in the first place that I’m consuming it. I also focus on mote JOY-FULL alternatives likes using my mother’s home made jam made with fruit from her garden rather than focusing on sugar itself.

In the same way, you don’t get in a car and stress about ALL the things that could go wrong. You drive. You use your seatbelt. You indicate. You focus on the things that get you to your destination, and not the things that could prevent your arrival. Same story.

The minute you declare war, you’ve lost the battle

There’s no need to declare war on sugar. And no it’s not like cocaine, as has been often mentioned in the media. There’s no need to declare war on anything. You see, the minute you declare war on something, you welcome it more into your psyche. Just ask me or anyone who’s embarked on a diet and vowed to NEVER eat a particular food again.

I get wanting to change. There’s ALOT of stuff I don’t love in my life and I want to change but in all my experience the minute I declare war on something it seems to only perpetuate or get BIGGER.

I didn’t come up with this theory but it makes total sense to me.

“We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate. It oppresses.” ~ Carl Jung

Treat the Symptom NOT the Cause

Age old sayings ARE age old sayings because they tend to be right and it’s true, if you want sustainable change “treat the symptom, not the cause”.

I’m usually overconsuming something because of some other challenge entirely! For instance, I generally overeat too much sugar when I’m feeling heartbroken.

It made me realise sugar actually isn’t the problem so why declare war on sugar when actually I should be focusing on healing the heartbreak or simply feeling the sadness. Whenever I’ve recognised I feel heartbroken and have ‘treated’ that instead, the craving has gone away on it’s own. So I’ve felt my pain or journaled or had therapy of whatever else is needed, the sugar craving goes away as if by magic. Except it isn’t magic. It’s called treating the cause.

The Health Equation

Health is Wealth

CoVid taught us that. We all get it.

But you can’t stress your way to good health. For example if you’re constantly worrying about TRYING to eat right or elimate sugar or salt or gluten or meat whatever else then you could find yourself suffering from anxiety or something worse.

I live in a small village in the mountains of Northern Spain. I don’t have junk food in my village and my 90 year old neighbour who still walks around and milks his cows everyday would think I was crazy if I even began to explain UBER-EATS to him. So yes, I live a priviledged existence. The daily bread van delivers freshly baked bread to the house. I have a slice each morning at around 10am with butter and home made jam and coffee with cream. Nothing makes me happier and my body seems to love it. I eat veggies and meat for lunch and greek yogurt with cream and banana for dinner. I cycle three days a week and try to fit in some yoga.

So you might say I don’t HAVE to do battle with the negative ‘elements’ of city life and that’s true but I lived in big cities my whole life and the approach of NOT stressing about good health is what helped me change my life and body then too.

Good health is an equation FAR beyond only what we consume. The equation for health?

It’s emotional + mental + physical. It’s all the things.

If you feel a sense of inner peace, I mean REAL inner peace, I reckon that goes a longer way to good health than feeling completely anxious and trying to eliminate gluten.

The point I’m making is it’s not just what we eat. If it were that simple everyone who smoked or ate crap would get cancer and everyone else not. Sadly I’ve known obsessively healthy individuals who were overweight or who were diagnosed with cancer and I’ve known people who smoked a pack a day who’ve passed away peacefully in their nineties.

Focus on Joy AND Listen to Your Body

What if we began to focus more on JOY instead of WAR? Most people tell me that if they focus more on joy they’d end up eating a Big Mac every day to which I say really?

This is when you have to listen to your body and watch the movie SuperSize Me. You have to focus on joy AND listen to your body. I can tell when I have a food hangover and I’m sure you can too. There’s nothing nicer than a great meal out with friends but do it everyday and you’d start feeling terrible.

How can you find other sources of joy apart from food?

When does your body feel it’s best?

The problem isn’t sugar or alcohol or bread or gluten or any other thing. It’s how you consume it and why.

If you TRULY feel unhappy with your health or weight then tackle that. Absolutely. I’m not at all suggesting ignore it. I’m suggesting face it from a place of truth and curiosity.

For example. Hmmmm that’s interesting. I eat cake everyday and I feel horrible in my body. I definitely feel too heavy in my body. What makes me do that I wonder? What if I tried something else everytime I felt that feeling? (Please read Charles Duhigg on this theory).

If you focus on the sugar in this example, you take the solution outside of yourself.

At the end of the day you can’t shame yourself or stress yourself to good health or weightloss. You can only arrive there by facing your truth, being curious and finding joy in creating new habits.

“…Research by Dr. Karyn Purvis, scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.”

So why not play with your food?

Really! Most of us were told not to play with our food but what if we did? What if we played around a little more with the habits that do or don’t work for us instead of becoming so dogmatic about them.

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