Steps towards a happy, healthy 2020!

30. December 2019.

Holiday seasons are beautiful occasions to relax, pause for a moment from our stressful, hectic lives, gather our loved ones around Christmas trees and dinner tables, and enjoy all kinds of delicious temptations. Apart from the mundane task of providing our body with fuel, food has always been about pleasure, about community, about family, friends and spirituality, about our relationship with the natural world and with each other, and about experiencing our own identity.

At the same time, holiday seasons also offer plenty of opportunity to eat without being hungry, and to feed our body with things we do not need, and that are not even good for us. Unfortunately, if repeated and persistent, regardless of its negative impact on our health and our life, this behavior tends to become addictive. The problem is that our tendency to overeat is not only the consequence of overproduction of and easy access to food but, as with any addictive behavior, also has a self-soothing function covering up unresolved emotional issues.

Think about it: what is the promise of chocolate, snacks, candy, alcohol and tobacco? Isn’t it always about instant emotional satisfaction? And now be brutally honest: Does any of this ever give us what we so desperately crave for? Love? Fulfilment? Safety? Peace?

The truth is that, while overfeeding our body, we are subconsciously trying to feed our soul, to sooth our discomfort, isolation, powerlessness, stress, dissatisfaction, pain, and to compensate for our lack of energy, optimism or well-being. We are desperately attempting to regulate, or at least cover up, our internal state through external means. Food addiction is an attempt at replacing what a person was emotionally deprived of.

We may even succeed for a short time but, just as any other addiction, overeating comes at a price – and the currency of our payment will be overweight, declining health and dwindling self-esteem. And just when we are about to face this truth, our original emotional issues will come back to bite us, too.

The good news is that it does not have to be that way. You can take responsibility and choose a different path – and what better moment is there to make such a decision than the approaching New Year! So here are three simple steps you can take towards a happy, healthy and lean 2020:

First: Let go of your illusions and quit searching for the quick fix, the “magic pill” for health and happiness. Accept that this is simply part of growing up, a bit like saying goodbye to Santa.

Second: Embrace what is real, accept and love yourself, your life, your health, your friends and family, and then laugh, enjoy and celebrate all of it abundantly. Enjoy life with all your senses! This will nourish your soul, fill you with happiness and satisfaction, and do away with all the wrong motivations for food.

Third: Start nourishing your body with fresh food that is not only tasty, but that also contains all the nutrients it needs and which will allow it to detoxify and regenerate. Think about it: Would you fill sea water into your car’s fuel tank just because it is cheap and easily accessible? Never! Then why would you keep stuffing junk food into your body, which is infinitely more valuable than any car you will ever own? While getting some basic nutritional advice can be helpful to get to you off to a good start, most of it really is good old common sense: eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils, low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry, and no or a low quantity of red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains and starchy vegetables.

It really is simple as that! Obviously, within these broad recommendations, plenty of variations are possible to suit personal preferences and medical conditions. Other than that, there is really no sound scientific basis for being more specific – variety is an important part of avoiding one-sided diets.

Take responsibility now! Start out the new decade by getting in touch with your body and emotions, and celebrate who you are and what you have. Let go of your petty addictions and ask yourself what is the life you really want? What do you choose to create? Look in the mirror not with pity or resentment, but with compassion and love, and then turn around and treat others the same way. Are you afraid you will stumble? Of course you will: that’s called being human. But then, even stumbling is a way of making progress. Just think of a child learning to walk: Try, stumble, fall – and then take a deep breath, get up and try it again!

You are not alone – let’s do it together!

Be balanced, be free – Equiliberty!

Dr. Katarina Melzer