Monthly Archives: March 2016

Back to Basics: Diet

When it comes to caring for ourselves through what we eat, although it sounds quite simple, it can prove to be very complicated indeed! Not only do we receive so much advice about what is healthy and what it not, we also have to contend with the messages we received growing-up about food (food as nourishment, pleasure, reward, punishment, power – the meanings we give to food can seem endless and relentless). If we struggle with using alcohol in a healthy enough, controlled way, we always have the option of dealing with the struggle through abstinence. But that’s not an option with food – not unless we descended into the full-blown misery of anorexia and its very real death risk.
So how do we start to understand, explore and begin to feel in control around food? How do we care for ourselves through what we eat? How do we stop using food to mask, surpress or express our feelings? I believe the place to start is wherever we find ourselves; whatever is worrying or shaming us, where the emotional impact lies. And to start with gentleness, understanding, kind attention. Food is hugely emotive for most of us. As we begin to explore and experience its particular meanings and feelings for each of us, we take the vital step towards allowing ourselves the possibility of doing things differently, of making choices that suit us better right now.

Back to Basics

When we’re suffering from mental anguish – be it depression, anxiety, grief or any other type of emotional pain – it can feel totally overwhelming. Concentrating, or even being aware, of anything or anyone else is hard; sometimes impossible. And being aware of the impact that this suffering is having on our ability to take care of ourselves can also be limited or non-existant.

At times like this, I believe there is great value in getting back to basics. By basics, I mean the fundamentals of our everyday existence, the cornerstones of self-care. These are diet, exercise, sleep, meaningful activity and social interaction. Our mental turmoil may impact on all of these or hit us particularly in one sphere or other.

These five basics also give us somewhere to start: somewhere to begin trying to take care of ourselves in a truly difficult, testing time. By becoming aware of what is really hard for us, what comes more easily, what we can and can’t do or allow ourselves, we start understanding more about ourselves, our history, our processes and relationships.

So, over the next five weeks, I am going to explore in turn all these basics, in the hope that it sheds some light on things that appear as if they should be easy and even automatic but are, at times, areas where we compound our suffering and miss opportunities to help ourselves feel better.