Eating With A Self-Love Mindset
By: Marie-Louise Onga Nana
Bell Hooks once said that to love ourselves truly “we must learn to mix various ingredients – care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication.”
If love is a verb then it is an ongoing action that we all should continuously perform for ourselves and those we care about. Self-love can be more than the corporate and materialistic representation that was once popularized online. It is about making conscious decisions that are beneficial to your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Loving your body is an idea that so commonly is misconstrued with ego and narcissism. We normalize self-deprecating humor and actions over allowing ourselves and others to put themselves first. To an extent, we are taught to dislike ourselves and that many aspects of our bodies are meant to be changed to be “worthy of love”. This mindset is especially seen in women, as we have been socialized to put other people first and uphold strict gendered norms.
In terms of nutrition, we should be eating to fulfill our self-love praxis, through practicing mindful eating. Mindful eating is all about having a sense of awareness around the nutrients you put into your body, observing— not judging, how the food makes you feel. For some of us, we eat passively or while distracted. In these kinds of situations, our bodies aren’t fully recognizing what we are putting into them. Adopting a “mindful eating” approach is about recognizing the different signals that your body is sending your mind about taste, satisfaction, and fullness.
An individual’s relationship with their bodies and food is so deeply personal that those on the outside won’t guess what’s going on beneath the surface. When I scroll through my Twitter feed the last thing I want to see is the aggressive judgment on which celebrity’s weight or physique has changed. It isn’t my business and my initial thought is always to question whether or not they are doing okay.
Nothing is strange about eating carbs. Seeing that photoset of Zac Efron used to make eating carbs “quirky” was an ill-thought-out joke.
Zac Efron is the host of the new Netflix docuseries, “Down to Earth” in which he is seen tearing up in one episode while talking about his past diet habits. Efron, like many actors, is used to the celebrity crash dieting that allows them to drastically change their physique.
He had everyone salivating over his Baywatch abs and then was the talk of the internet after becoming the face of the “dad bod.”
We see this kind of over-speculation and judgment turned trend often. Earlier this year, we saw people commenting on Adele’s workout and diet plans when she posted recent photos on her Instagram.
While everyone’s relationships with food are different and I do not want to add to the speculation, there is nothing okay about an eating disorder or having an unhealthy relationship with food.
When I first saw the photos of either celeb, my immediate reaction was one of worry. Society is too eager to push unhealthy habits on to people without taking into consideration their relationship with food.
Disordered eating is a health concern that is difficult to detect as many people living with these issues may not display symptoms commonly associated with eating disorders. While disordered eating isn’t an eating disorder, it is important to notice these patterns so that harmful tendencies don’t become habits and progress into eating disorders.
The way we heavily speculate over other people’s bodies, we project an idea of the “ideal body type” and the many (mostly unhealthy) ways we too can achieve them. It normalizes a harmful practice of looking at what’s on the outside rather than caring about ourselves and others deeply. When we do this, we hurt ourselves and others and it goes against every idea of love and care that we often tout on the internet.
The step after recognizing the dysfunctional relationship is finding ways to change it. Eating with a self-love mindset is encouraged as a small step towards healing one’s relationship with food.
Practicing this concept will look different for everyone, but it’s important to focus on how and why you are eating. Food is fuel for the physical and cognitive aspects of the self, so choose what makes you feel good and ready for the day ahead.