WOW, I’m embarrassed to admit this especially on my blog and even more since I am normally a very positive person, but recently I struggled with and was tired of every activity around food. The shopping, the prepping, the social media posting, the eating, the cleaning and the cleaning. The everything. It’s like I had amnesia when it came to meal ideas and actually dreaded being hungry or when my spouse asked "what are you thinking for dinner?" When this happens, as it has in the past, I always feel that something is wrong with me. I mean after all I AM a dietitian and food mentor to clients who struggle with their weight, GI complaints and other health issues!
But here’s the kicker - I love healthy food (as in LOVE), living a healthy lifestyle (I’m that weird person who actually LOVES going to the gym and being physically active - it's usually my reward for working hard). I love guiding others to their version of healthy - my ultimate calling in life where I feel in the universal flow and living my authentic purpose. So there is a bit of shame that goes along with admitting this because I feel like I've overcome so many challenges when it comes to my own healthy lifestyle choices. But since it usually happens once a year I know exactly what is going on when it strikes. Plain and simple.
It's quite possible that this might be an actual condition, an aversion to food and the grocery store, meal prep and clean up. It can start to feel like a day-in, day-out drudgery (or at least it did this week). All I can say is thank goodness UpBeet opened on the Westside because I’ve been finding ANY excuse to stay true to my commitment of dining on a new grain or salad bowl flavor until I work my way through the entire menu. During my food burnout phase (and during frequent visits) 2 different staff members said, "welcome back!" True story. It became my healthy fast food default during the temporary burnout phase.
So while it’s easy to turn to take out or even junk foods (thankfully none in my house to tempt me), this predicament is always a sign from my body that it is time to return to the healthy basics that got me to where I am today. Refocus on quick plant-based meals, freshly made veggie juices (5-7 minutes), green protein smoothies (< 5 minutes), smoothie bowls (< 5 minutes) and quick chopped salads. Keep things easy, prep- and digestion-wise. It usually feels like my body just needs a rest from the whole process of eating and digesting food. Which usually happens after the holidays but it feels like I need a rest from thinking about what to prepare, blah blah blah. If I have healthy options on auto-pilot, I don't have to spend so much mental energy come meal time. If you've never experienced this I know it might sound odd, but I can experience this food resistance/struggle once a year, never quite sure when it will strike.
Oddly enough, my dog Kingston is apparently going through a similar situation. And he is VERY food motivated. But lately he’s been really picky about even his favorite food and sometimes eating just half. It’s like he’s burned out too. We’ve switched out his food, I’ve made homemade ground turkey, oats, and rice with veggies and topped with Goat milk yogurt. And still he sniffs around like he’s not into it.
I feel ya Kingston!
So what's my solution for food burnout?
Here are the 5 steps that work for me.
Step 1. Acknowledgement. This can be difficult because you might not want to admit what is going on, much less recognize it if it has never happened before. But tuning into yourself and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings about food and feeding yourself can open the doors to powerful self-reflecting.
Step 2. Tell someone. Finding someone to talk to who may be or have gone through a similar situation can help you feel like you are not alone. They may have some insight and suggestions on what has helped them move through this in the past. Hint: this RD can be a great resource for you!
Step 3. Make a plan and keep it simple. I will write down what I plan to eat for all meals and snacks then stick to it. I have a basic food default day that sometimes becomes a default week. If I'm really burned out on food, it won't matter what I eat because my mentality is focused on eating for fuel and energy versus making choices that I am craving or want to eat. My go-to is usually bigger batch-cooked meals so I can rely on prepared healthy foods and don't have to spend too much time in the kitchen. A couple of my go-to's include veggie and bean chili's, roasted veggies with a big salad or ground turkey and brown rice pasta with tons of veggies topped with Field Day spicy Arribbiata pasta sauce (!!!).
Step 4. Find inspiration. For me, playing with plant-based foods and recipes in the kitchen is my happy space. Most of the time. When it feels like work, I start to check out new food blogs, perhaps purchase a new cookbook, binge-watch cooking shows, or purchase some new fun gadget for the kitchen to revive my interest in cooking!
Step 5. Be kind. Kindness can go a long way while you go through whatever funky period you find yourself in. Activities that feel kind and help me move past icky times include meditation, writing, or doing something creative, perhaps painting my emotions related to my feelings can help manage them and help me move through them in a healthier way. One thing I avoid is eating my emotions. That never solves the problem and only leads to other issues!
Did I actually have the guts to post this blog? I just want people to know that the food struggle is and can be real. We all experience similar challenges when it comes to being healthy but it's important to know yourself and how to break through those mental obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your optimal health goal!
If you are in need of professional guidance schedule a pow-wow with me so we can create actionable strategies to get the results you deserve! I hope to hear from you soon...