Mind Power – Eating Regularly
Making a concerted effort to eat regularly helped our Beauty Editor, Palesa Vilakazi, to stop viewing food as her body’s biggest enemy
The most common question I get asked by everyone – from my husband to colleagues – is: “Have you eaten today?” I usually kickstart my mornings with a cup of coffee, followed by another for lunch and, if necessary, I’d top up with a chocolate bar. For the longest time, I had convinced myself that stopping to eat was a complete waste of time. “Why not just eat at the end of the day?” I’d ask myself. Because the mind is so powerful, I completely stopped thinking about food during the day when I’m busy with work. Since I started working, the thought of taking a lunch break has never crossed my mind. On most evenings, a sandwich or snack is sufficient. I’ve always felt that my eating patterns are just fine and at some point, I was even proud of my ability to get things done without the nagging feeling of hunger.
When I was challenged to start eating regular meals, I hoped the transition would be easy. But, adjusting my day’s plans to accommodate thoughts about food was burdensome. I perused food blogs and stalked Instagram accounts of popular diet fanatics for breakfast and lunch ideas, as well as healthy snack options. I made sure to include vegetables and protein in my meals. However, I soon became overwhelmed with this daily process. Don’t get me started on the food information overload on the internet! I ended up opting for the convenience of eating igwinya for breakfast and greasy lunch from the canteen. The other difficulty was remembering to take the time out to actually eat the meals. On a few occasions, I’d reach the end of the day with my skaftin still full. That’s when I realised that my habit of not eating – just because I didn’t feel hungry – was deeply ingrained in my mind and body. I had consistently deprived my body of food, and I don’t know how it has been able to function on survival mode every single day.
STICKING IT OUT
Half way through the process, I resorted to setting up ‘eat now’ and ‘time for lunch!’ reminders on my phone that beckoned me to feed myself. I also asked my colleague, Tsakane Ndlovu, to nudge me during her meal times so that I’d have someone acting as my support system. However, on those days when I had a shoot or a deadline looming, I’d simply press “ignore” and continue with what I was doing. One of the good habits I cultivated during this process was stepping away from my desk at lunch time to eat in a pause area where I could relax and enjoy the meal for an hour. At home, in support of my new ‘eating more’ life, my husband suggested that we start eating at the dinner table, instead of our usual couch dining. This new-found habit went a long way in helping me plan and honour ‘dinner time’ every night.
WAKE UP CALL
Before, I always thought I worked well with very little hassles during the day, but the more I stuck to my meal plans, the more my energy levels peaked. My mood, creativity and energy used to dip around midday but since eating regularly, I now work consistently, faster and I’m more productive. In the beginning, I’d feel bloated and have cramps from eating regularly. I guess this was my stomach’s way of saying, ‘Who is this intruder?’ [chuckles]. My body, thankfully, adjusted to this new way of living. Emotionally, irritability and anxiety – which used to usually attack me at the end of the day – fell on the wayside. My mind felt rejuvenated and renewed, and I experienced fewer midday slumps.
One of my biggest visions this year was to practise more self-care. However, not feeding my body was a dismal failure of this very concept. This entire challenge became about more than just eating, as I learnt about the different food groups and how certain nutrients affect my mind, mood and overall wellbeing. It took 30 days for me to become more present in caring for my body and educating myself on nutrition. I look forward to fighting off the temptation to regress and more exciting lessons on food.