Guest Blog – Kathryn O’Brien founder of Evolve Nutrition
If I were to ask you right now what the keys are to having a healthy lifestyle I bet, without too much thought, you could come up with the answer. . . eat a balanced diet (with lots of veggies, fruits, lean protein, good fat and whole grains), move your body and manage your stress. Then why is this so hard for so many people? When asked, most of my clients say, it’s because they don’t have time, that fast food is just easier to find, they don’t know how to cook, or they travel a lot for work. But I know I’ve had many clients with many of these “problems” succeed and excel at adopting a healthy lifestyle. So what’s really going on here.
A great quote from the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2 really hits it home for me “The epidemic is not really obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but rather depression, loneliness, and isolation” You see we are social beings and food has become so linked to our social connections. We used to live in a culture where we would take the time to cook with the people we were connected to. . . how many of you love to cook for the people you love? How amazing does it feel to have someone cook for you? How connected do you feel to your loved ones after sharing a meal together? Sadly though as our world gets busier and more focussed on the individual we find ourselves all too often eating quickly out of a bowl over the sink, or alone in our car dashing between appointments. Frequently it is now the bowl of ice cream or bag of chips that we look to to provide a reward after a long days work and less often is there a person beside us sharing in that ice cream, sharing our sense of accomplishment. The thing about food is it does provide us with some of the same “feel good” hormones as connections with people do, but these hormones are fleeting and once they are gone we are left empty again… and without a solid social circle we are left turning back to food to “fill us up”.
Bob Proctor my mentor and coach often says “Think of the top 5 people you spend your time with and choose these people wisely as they have the biggest influence on the person you are” Think about your health goals, now think of these 5 people. Make sure you make these relationships count. When I look at my clients that have had the most success at changing their lives it is because they have surrounded themselves with a strong team. So if you need support to reach your health goal ask those around you for help. For example, instead of having your weekly meeting with your work colleague over coffee and treats, why not make it a walking meeting? If you and your best friend do “everything” together why not ask them if they’d be interested in taking a meditation class with you. Struggle to make healthy food? Have one night a week where the whole family cooks together – and double the batch of everything so you have healthy leftovers for the next day. If you have a habit of using food as a reward – start by inviting a friend or family member out to enjoy that reward with you, you’ll slowly start to see the connection return to relationships instead of food. New to the area and feeling isolated? Make healthy connections with people like joining a cooking class at local grocery stores, a fitness class at the the gym or join a rec team of a sport that you haven’t played since you were a kid. I often run groups in the community and people enjoy not only cooking healthy food but the time in the kitchen with a new bunch of people. I call these groups collective kitchens and they have been a great way to build connections around food and people in the way that we are meant to connect – primarily with each other and secondly to healthy tasty food.
You see we all know what we should be doing to eat healthier but for a lot of us we don’t do it because we feel alone in the battle. When you have a strong sense of connection to the people around you it is easier to face the challenges life throws at you. And even better when this group of people around you knows what your health goals are they can help keep you on track and provide the support you need when you are tempted to give up on your goals.
Kathryn O’Brien, M.Sc. Nutrition