5 Things I Do Every Day to Help Me Love Myself | #ThisGirlEats

It might not look like much, but I try my best to do these five things every day because they genuinely push me to bring out my positive side.

We all know that learning to love yourself is a tough journey, but doing just a lil’ something every day towards achieving that is a step in the right direction.

1. Reflect – literally!

It’s not always fun, but I make sure I look in the mirror every damn day. I stand there, even if it’s just for a few seconds before bed or a quick check before I rush out of the house before work, and look at myself.

I do it because it’s a practise. It takes discipline, after years of abusively picking apart my reflection, to stand in front of the mirror and appreciate what is staring back at me. I might not be head over heels in love with it every day – let’s be real, who is?! – but I always take a moment to look at every lump and bump, every freckle, every stretch mark, think positive thoughts and shove that inner saboteur (thanks RuPaul 😉) out of my mind.

2. Tidy space, tidy mind.

If you’ve ever surprised me with an unexpected visit to my flat, you might not believe this next one. But I genuinely do feel that – when I’ve got the time! – having a neat, clean, tidy environment helps me thrive creatively and keep a clear head.

It’s hard to keep on top of chores and no-one wants to waste their free time doing housework, myself included. But I do make a conscious effort to do some kind of tidying up every day. Even something simple like finally getting to the bottom of the washing up, clearing away long-lost clutter, putting laundry away instead of just letting it pile up.. the list is, unfortunately, endless. But just doing a little something to organise my home really feels like I’ve got my shit together.

3. Make a list, check it twice.

I find lists incredibly therapeutic. Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I always write down whatever’s on my mind in a list that I can tackle bit by bit. It makes things feel more manageable and gives me a chance to stop suffocating and start breathing again.

The one list I check every single day is my ‘2019 GOALS’ list. It’s got several broad, open-ended goals – “Improve blog content and engagement”, “Learn to love yourself and your body” and “Save money and get out of your overdraft“, for example – to achieve this year. Every night, before bed, I ask myself what I’ve done that day to help towards any one of those bullet points. As long as I’ve helped myself get one step – even a teeny tiny baby step – closer to any one of those goals, I feel like I’ve done a good job for the day.

My '2019 GOALS' list
My ‘2019 GOALS’ list

4. Smile for the camera.

It sounds very stereotypical of the social media selfie generation but I do try, as much as possible, to take photos of myself. I know that makes me sound very “millennial” but it’s really not ’bout that – it ain’t all full face paint and insta model, let me tell ya!

The reason for this is to make sure I step up and be seen every day. It’s easy to let yourself fade into the background and shy away, especially if you’re introverted like me. But if you force yourself to point the camera in front of your face every day it means you have no choice but to really look at yourself. I don’t often do anything with these photos, they’re not necessarily for anyone else to see, but I can flick back through them anytime as a reminder of each day. I try to take photos of me, for me, as much as I can.

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5. Make friends with food.

Girl, if I could count the hours I wasted stressing over what I ate… Well, I can’t find a funny way to finish that sentence but, trust me, it’s A LOT.

It’s been a long, long, loooong process, but these days I try to make food my friend instead of my enemy. It’s not always easy, and I definitely hear that lil’ devil creeping up on my shoulder trying to dupe me into feeling guilty, worried or anxious when I’m eating – that bitch just won’t back off! But I can honestly say that forcing my negative thoughts to change track when it comes to food has brought me closer than I’ve ever been to loving and accepting myself. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

 

 

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Healing My Unhealthy Relationship with Food | #ThisGirlEats

Me and food, we’ve got a love-hate relationship. Sometimes it’s my best friend, sometimes it’s my enemy. The problem is, no matter how unhealthy my relationship with food might be, I need it to, y’unno, stay alive. That’s the bottom line, right?

I’ve got an ongoing battle between my love of food and the issues it causes me when it comes to weight, body image and self-consciousness. It’s something I’ve never known how to overcome and, truthfully, never thought I could.

But lately something has changed. I don’t know if it’s the conscious effort I’ve been spending on positive self-image, the incredible body positive women I follow online, or just the fact that I’ve coloured my hair recently and it looks great (not even gonna lie). We all know that when a gal changes her hair some serious shit is going down!

Pink and purple hair

Point is, even though I’m probably at my biggest right now, have stretch marks all over my body and took an incredibly lax approach to shaving my legs this winter, I have been feeling so much more positive about myself, my body and my relationship with food. My mind is like a sat nav, healing my deep-rooted problems with food and rerouting itself down a much better path.

I think this revelation started when I read Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Eat Up’ last summer. It made me start to listen to my body and really enjoy food instead of always fighting against it – you can read more about my thoughts on the book here.

Since then, I’ve definitely realised how negative it is to think some foods are “bad” and that I should feel “guilty” for eating, and that really made a difference.

For example, when me and my boyfriend go out to eat now it’s not about feeling bad for the three-course meal we’ve devoured and how we have to pop open the top button on our jeans on the car ride home. It’s about the quality time we spent together; the laughs we had trying to order items from the menu we couldn’t pronounce, the ideas we came up with for the future while dipping dough balls into garlic butter, the holiday we planned over a margherita pizza, the content quiet between us as we savoured delectable, sweet spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream.

Pizza Express margherita pizza
Pizza Express margherita pizza

It’s about getting out of the house and enjoying what life has to offer. It’s about loving food and company and conversation. It’s about caring for ourselves and nourishing our bodies, minds and souls. It’s about looking after relationships with each other, with ourselves, with food.

I currently have the healthiest view of food and myself that I’ve had in a long, long time. I don’t really know how it happened, or why it’s happening right now. But it is, and I’m happy.

Guilt Shouldn’t Have a Place in Food – But It Does. A Big One. | #ThisGirlEats

The minute that clock strikes midnight on December 31st, all you see is diet, diet, diet.

Companies spend weeks leading up to Christmas encouraging you to indulge and then use the entirety of the following month convincing you to lose weight you might’ve gained from – you guessed it – indulging.

It really revs up in January, but you don’t have to look too hard to see this diet culture drip-fed to us all year round. There’s one word in particular that gets thrown around, and it’s recently started to really bug me.

Guilt.

“Feeling guilty after the weekend?”
“Guilt-free food!”
“Don’t feel guilty, you deserve a treat!”

You hear it all the time. Heck, excuse the pun but I’m ‘guilty’ of it myself! I’m so accustomed to this way of thinking, I associate foods like salad, vegetables, whole grains, etc. with being “guilt-free” and the likes of pizza, chocolate and wine (aka, everything I love) with a real, genuine feeling of guilt.

 

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I can’t count the nights I’ve laid awake beating myself up, feeling guilty and thinking of all the awful things that will subsequently happen as a result of eating something “bad”. When I really think about it, I don’t know if I’ve ever associated anything with such a strong sense of guilt as I do food.

Language like this has to have an impact, surely?! Surrounding food, something we need to literally stay alive, with negative thoughts can’t be good for us.

I’ll be completely honest, I have considered – more than once – making myself sick after eating because I’ve felt so disgusted. That’s not because of food. That’s because of guilt.

I’m grateful I haven’t gone down that route, but I can absolutely understand how easily the belief that we should feel guilty, ugly, greedy, embarrassed, unattractive, weak and, ultimately, worthless after eating certain kinds of food could lead to a very dark place.

I hold my hands up. I’ve used language like “guilt-free” in my food writing; you can probably find examples in this blog. But not for much longer. Diet culture plays tricks on us and, if you’re anything like me, odds are you’ve been conditioned to go along with it from a young age. As soon as I’ve got time, I’ll be going through old blog posts and correcting anything I feel fuels this “food = guilt” idea, because I’m so over it.

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Life is a learning curve. I’ve learnt I shouldn’t feel guilty about eating, because there’s no such thing as “bad food”. I’ve also learnt language like this is dangerous, whether in my own head or written down in a blog post. I’m still trying to change my way of thinking and actually enforce this newfound knowledge into my old habits, but I’m getting there.

Thing is, we like what we like. We need what we need. Some days, a bowl of vegetable soup and a fruit smoothie are wonderful, nourishing, soothing. Other days, we crave salty, golden fries, maybe sweet, luxurious ice cream, or even a huge pizza with heaps of stringy cheese all to ourselves. We like what we like, we need what we need, we’re all different and our relationships with food are too.

That’s just life, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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