For so many of us, the diet rollercoaster is just that, up and down, up and down. We’re bombarded daily with the latest healthy foods, diets, fasts, and cleanses. How can one possibly find the right path to healthy?
For holistic nutritionist Leanne Vogel, the way to healthy eating begins and ends with self-love.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But take a second to consider the negative talk you throw your own way each day. Compare that to the self love you shower yourself with, and the reality hits—most of us have a way to go before we can say we have a loving relationship with ourselves.
But with the right tools and perseverance, the shift to love, and healthfulness, can belong to everyone.
Link Between Self-Esteem & Eating
First off, how does love help us eat healthier? “The lack of love you have for yourself, coupled with overwhelming guilt or other baggage, can control the food you eat, the feelings you have, the people you connect with, the decisions you make, and the way you treat your body,” Vogel says.
She found that after years of self-sabotage that manifested in unhealthy eating, finding self respect and acceptance of herself finally helped her shift the negative cycle.
“I was always afraid of what people thought of me, how people saw me, and cut myself down when things didn’t go my way.”
Like most transformation, acknowledging that something isn’t working is the jumping-off point. “One afternoon I remember declaring, ‘I need help. I don’t want to be this way anymore.’ That declaration defined the first day of the rest of my life. The process of healing was gradual, but that little slice of clarity was the miracle I needed to forge forward.”
From that moment on, Vogel committed to doing everything in her power to reset her life.
“I chose to celebrate my food allergies, overcome my food restrictions, release my negative relationship with food, and live freely. It’s a radical way of living, so much more meaningful than the un-living I was doing years before.”
To tap into your inner power, she says you have to think love, show love, and emulate love. Once you’ve let go of the anger, disappointment or stress, get into a loving place.
“I create a list in my head of all the things that I’m thankful for, the people who make me happy, the gratitude I have for my work. I look at the situation with loving eyes, and I stop fighting with the desire to be right and just surrender.”
A morning meditation is a perfect ritual to achieve this sort of mindset, according to Vogel. “Meditate (outside if the weather is nice!) every morning and go heavy on the self-love—list all the awesome things you love about yourself, your life, and throw in a couple of accomplishments. Remind yourself that you’re fabulous, awesome, and true.”
For many people, food cravings can easily throw off healthy eating for an entire day, then week, month, and so on. For example, maybe you give into a sweet craving around 11 am, and then you tell yourself that you may as well eat poorly for the rest of the day since you’ve already blown it. Then the next day is a repeat, and so it goes. Learning to discern cravings from hunger is the first step in avoiding this vicious cycle, according to Vogel.
“I strongly believe in intuitive eating, a power that all of us have. You can tell the difference between a craving and an actual need that your body has, you just have to ask. Cravings are all in the mind. You know, those times when you’ve just eaten and you logically know that you’re not hungry, but your mind is begging you for that little something. You know that when you eat the food you’re going to just be overly full and unsatisfied, but you want it anyways. That’s a craving—when you want something even though (logically) you know, deep down, that you don’t need it.”
Check in with yourself when you feel a craving and ask, she suggests, “Am I hungry, do I want this food?” If the answer is yes, then forge forward, if the answer is no, then don’t.
Another great question to ask yourself is, “What possible things are going on right now that are making me want this food?” Are you using the food to dull stress or calm nerves? If yes, then back away from the food and take a walk, get outside or do something to change the situation.
Taking the Honest Route
It would have been easy for Vogel to hang her shingle and run her business and website, Healthful Pursuit, without ever alluding to her own issues around food. But she made the brave decision to share her own difficult journey that eventually turned her life, and health, around.
“When I first started my business, I struggled with whether or not I wanted to share these details of my past. I kept them hidden behind closed doors, but it massively affected my ability to be authentic. I knew I wanted to connect with women that have struggled with the same issues but not being upfront with my personal battles (and the steps I took to overcome them) made it really hard to create the business I wanted,” Vogel says.
In order to create business truly inline with her vision, a space where women could go to feel supported and empowered, Vogel “got real with my experiences, embraced my true self and began to live authentically . . . online.”
“I want to help women create the life they deserve and assist them on their journey by providing daily actions that create measurable results. I want to help women who perhaps don’t love their bodies the way that they should, aren’t happy with the life they’ve created, and just constantly feel like they’re up against a wall with nowhere to go. Each blog post that I create, each product I plan, comes directly from my heart.”
Healthy Meal Planning
When transitioning to a more healthful diet, Vogel found that detailed meal plans were the ticket to her success. She loved the concept so much, it’s what she specialized in while studying holistic nutrition.
“The power of a well-written, whole food-based meal plan is that it can take the guesswork out of the healthy eating equation. It makes eating healthy EASY,” she says.
She now offers a meal plan service through her website. “Real Meals Meal Planning Program is a 7-day meal plan delivered to subscribers inboxes every Tuesday.
“The plans are gluten-free and dairy-free and are created using my proven approach to the perfectly balanced meal. I also include ingredient and recipe substitutions for those following a vegan, grain-free or nut-free diet, too.”