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Filtering by Tag: emotional eating

Food as Love

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 25 OF 28

I can very easily get in the habit of confusing eating as relaxing. I will work all day and then immediately reach for something when I get home in an effort to relax, but food doesn’t make you relax. It just distracts you for some time and takes you away from having to “do”. Whenever we reach for food when we’re not hungry, it is to satisfy something emotional. But if you’re tired, food cannot make you rested. If you’re lonely, food cannot give you company. If you’re sad, food cannot make you feel better. It may seem that way in the moment but what it’s really doing is distracting you. Numbing you just enough to turn your mind away from the tiredness or loneliness or sadness and tricking you into thinking it was the solution. But then the time passes and you’re left with the same emotion you were ignoring, now with an added layer of guilt or shame for eating way more than you needed to eat.  It’s a vicious cycle and one that I’ve been trapped in for my entire life. I’m working really hard to break it. To sit with my feelings and go through them. To pay attention to physical hunger versus the emotional type. I fail a lot. I eat a lot. But I’m getting better each day. 

Progress Not Perfection

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 15 OF 28

I hopped out of the shower in a fret, realizing that tomorrow I will be on national television. Exposed to all. Vulnerable and not knowing how I will be portrayed, how it will reflect on my business, who it will touch and reach and inspire. I had the privilege of going back for a second round competing on The Food Network’s hit show “Chopped”, and it airs tomorrow night.

I’ve been doing this writing challenge for 15 days now. The challenge was that I share my writing here every single day for a month. As you may know, these monthly challenges have proven incredibly helpful for me in terms of creating new habits. My first one was doing a Whole30 challenge which ultimately changed the way I live and eat forever. Then it was a month of mediation. A month working out every day. A month of journaling. A year of sobriety. A year not watching television. And most recently, a month with no social media. These challenges work for me and so here I am, proudly keeping up with this one, which has been much harder than I thought it would be.

But with this comes the insecurity that there will be new eyes on my inner thoughts. I’ve been doing this writing but not really sharing it. Feeling “ok” with the idea that if someone just happens to stumble upon it, no big deal. But who knows how many eyes will come here from their television sets tomorrow, and I’ll admit that it brings up insecurity. “Should I delete that post where I said I was going to sell out Madison Square Garden?”. “Is my writing horrible? My grammar?"

Fear. Fear. Fear. 

If I learned anything in Overeaters Anonymous and through my own healing process with emotional eating, it’s that we should strive for progress, not perfection. That’s what this  writing challenge has been teaching me and if nothing else, that’s been enough. And so instead of going back to make sure I didn’t say something I’ll regret, I’ll surrender my worries knowing that everything I’ve written here has come from some authentically inspired place within me that felt true in the moment.

I am not afraid to admit I am in process. I used to think I had to wait until I was an expert to share. I’m so glad I dropped that attitude and I hope that you do too because I have a feeling there are millions of people that need to hear exactly what your message is at exactly the level you currently understand it. Any other time would be too early or too late. Share your genius with the world. You are here for a very specific reason and there truly is no one who can do the work that is unique to your purpose. 

If you’ve found me from Chopped. Thank you. Thank you for taking me right now, exactly as I am. I hope that I can do the same for you. We. Are. Enough. 

Pleasure and Presence

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 12 OF 28

As I learn to live in my body more, I’m really attracted to this idea of pleasure. Like as if it clicked for me how true that it is that pleasure is what we’re here for. Joy and happiness. It’s as if we’re taught to fear pleasure- that we’re not supposed to have that. I think the point of pleasure is to enjoy it as long as it isn’t at the expense of anyone else or yourself. Our pleasure does not occur at the expense of someone else having it, it is an unlimited resource.

And then I look at pleasure in terms of food. Some might argue that eating a bunch of sugar and fried foods would generate the feeling of pleasure, and it would, but in most cases, it generates equal amounts of sadness and guilt and shame on the other end of it. If it doesn’t, then by all means, indulge. But indulge fully and truthfully and openly. I learned today that in terms of the spectrum of emotions, shame and guilt are two of the absolute hardest on us.

And as I spend more time in my body, I also realize how it is completely tied to presence. How when I’m paying attention to how I feel in my body, there is not past or future. There is only present. Only now. And that now is when I can choose to be blissful. I can put myself in situations in my mind that evoke love and passion and pleasure and joy and bliss and energy. I can take myself anywhere I want to go. It is so grounding. It is the tool I have been looking for. Presence and feeling and being. 

A Few Tears and No Cashews

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 11 OF 28

The more work I do on staying in my body and being willing to feel the emotions that come up, the more I become aware of just how often I’ve been leaving it over the last two decades. There was a complete disconnect and as a result I have been shutting off so many of the clues that it has been trying to give me about how to take care of myself. It’s no wonder I’ve spent so long trying to control food and my weight. I have never trusted my body to give me signals because I have very rarely lived in it. At some point years ago, I learned that eating would take the edge off. If I was stressed it would comfort me. If I was tired it would soothe me. If I was sad it would distract me. And by all means, it works... temporarily, but the feelings eventually return in a bigger and stronger way, and the cycle repeats itself.

 

feel discomfort… eat… temporary soothing… discomfort returns + guilt + shame… eat… temporary soothing… (and the cycle goes on)

 

I eat a very clean diet. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t eat grains, dairy, sugar (except for the natural sugars found in vegetables and fruit), or processed foods. Ever. If the way our body looked was 100% about what we ate, I would be a flawless vision of health. But it’s not. 

 

I still soothe with food.  In the past it might have been chips and ice cream, today it's typically roasted nuts and sweet potatoes. You can keep weight on while eating this way. While eating “perfectly”. It’s not ALL about the food. The food is incredibly important, but it’s by no means the whole picture.

 

Here’s the catch… if you are eating to soothe emotional hunger, the chances are high that you are eating too much. If you are not eating intuitively from a place of physical hunger and the need for nourishment and nutrients that your body is asking for (I promise it's asking, we just have a hard time listening and trusting) then it’s important to ask what you’re eating for. 

 

I had an experience last night that I thought worth sharing. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed at everything I “had to get done", and I wanted nothing more than to grab the salty roasted cashews from my cupboard, and eat them mindlessly in bed by the handful while browsing the internet.  In the past, when these urges to compulsively eat came through I’d distract myself for as long as I could until the craving went away, but in most cases it didn’t. I’d essentially just postpone the eating until I’d finally cave. Last night I did something different. I stayed in my body instead of disconnecting. I closed my eyes, got quiet, and paid attention to what the emotional energy was doing (this process, though common sense to many,  is a completely new and unfamiliar behavior for me). I went in and out of myself, not trying to label any feelings or make sense of them, but rather just observe. And eventually, I stuck with it long enough and was willing to feel long enough, that I shed a few tears. Which is a BIG accomplishment for me. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter where the tears came from. I’m new at this and all I’m asking myself to do is observe at this point. And when they were done, when that emotional energy had been let out, even if just the tiniest bit, the miracle occurred. Two hours of feeling so strongly pulled to eat. Two hours of thinking about binging on sugar and chips or at the very least the salted cashews that had been summoning me… and just like that… a few tears… and the desire to eat was completely gone. 

 

This was a small but incredibly meaningful victory for me. I felt like an attorney who just got the evidence that proves their case after two decades of trials. I have proof that those strong overpowering cravings to eat are about the feelings. And I have even more proof that when we feel them, deal with them properly, that the urge to eat disappears.  The excess weight is about the feelings. The answers are in the feelings. The feelings are our compass. We spend our whole life bolting from them and as it turns out, staying with them is the answer.  We just have to be brave enough to do so.  

Emotional Intelligence + Feelings Timers

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 10 OF 28

I’m doing a lot of work in terms of reconnecting with the process of feeling my feelings. Emotional Intelligence is defined as “ the ability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”. And as it turns out, I’m not so great at, well, any of that. 

 

When I first noticed that I was eating for reasons other than physical hunger, I began my journey into understanding the power of emotional “hunger”. I knew there was more to the way I was using food than just to fuel my physical body. Food is the mechanism that I have used to soothe any discomfort for as long as I can remember. And using food in this way has lead me to carry a little bit of extra weight. Also for as long as I can remember.

 

For a long time I assumed it was WHAT I was eating that was causing this and so I spent the first decade and a half of my life dieting. Controlling and manipulating my food in order to solve the “weight problem”. But when I finally got to the point that I was eating such a clean healthy diet 100% of the time and STILL keeping on weight, it occurred to me that there was something more. That perhaps food was just the “pill". It temporarily numbed the pain, but it did nothing to solve what was at the root of the problem. 

 

Through a lot of my journaling and introspection, I realized that I had created a very solid habit of using food as comfort. Eating to take the edge off. Stuffing down feelings because I didn’t know how to deal with them. 

 

Fast forward to today and I’m not doing a lot of deep work in order to reprogram myself to not just feel my feelings but to label them and eventually use them in a constructive way (hint: eating them away is DEstructive).  The hardest thing for me has been remembering to check in. I’ve spent most of my life separate from my body, not wanting to feel, so I’m like a child re-learning a basic human behavior now. 

 

In order to learn how to properly deal with my emotions, the first step is to create awareness around the fact that they are occurring and so I have set alarms to remind myself, every hour, to take a few moments and feel. To put words to the sensations in my body and to pay attention to where my emotional energy is located.

 

And though I have my moments of wondering if ignorance might in fact be bliss, there’s just something deep inside me that knows there is something really important on the other side of this self work. And I will practice and make progress, even in the tiniest amounts. And I shall start with awareness. 

If You Struggle with Food...

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 5 of 28

I receive many questions and emails regarding the topic of emotional eating, binge eating, and food addiction. It has been the greatest challenge of my life and I work hard to manage it daily. Below is my response to a recent email, that I thought may be helpful for others who are struggling. 

 

My true recovery from my food battle is actually only a very recent one, but there were certainly a ton of little victories along the way. These little discoveries have definitely had impacts on my overall healing. I've truly spent the majority of my life on the weight loss quest because being the chubby kid caused me so much pain and it was pain that I never really dealt with properly and am currently working through. I see it as a large part of my purpose to be a catalyst in opening others' eyes about food addiction, emotional eating, and ultimately how to lose the weight for good. What I've learned through my decades of self-experimentation is that it really isn't about the food.

What I mean by that is that the actual food you're eating only has a fraction to do with the extra weight. It's important to eat clean healthy food because it gives you the clear mind and energy necessary to do the inner work that will actually help you find peace with food, but that's really it. We have every single answer and piece of guidance within us, but if our brain is foggy and our attention span is zapped and we get poor quality sleep and we're constantly distracted... then we never give ourselves any chance at hearing that inner voice. You can call it God or your inner self or your intuition or the universe or energy or whatever you choose- all that matters is the acknowledgment that it is critical in healing.

What it comes down to is that so many of us are using food as a drug. To numb out, to quiet the feelings we don't want to feel (this is often completely subconscious so it's easy to say "I'm not feeling anything" because we've gotten really good at turning them off in the immediate second that they surface). We use food instead of God and love and feeling our feelings. What I learned that stuck with me is that when we have feelings and we choose to bury or block them instead of sit with them and feel them, they don't just disappear. They take other form in our body. That sadness we didn't deal with properly by feeling it is now sadness we turn inward on ourselves. Just sitting inside of us.

And I assume you and I are very similar in the sense that you've always been the one that's happy with a great attitude and a smile on her face?  I was that too and I am that, but I'm also sometimes sad and angry and quiet. But for the majority of my life I looked at the outside world to tell me what they liked from me and that was "funny" "outrageous" "people-pleasing", and so I conformed to that, without ever asking who I wanted to be and without acknowledging that every single human has a range of emotions and that is actually the most beautiful thing about this experience. And so I was only willing to feel the feelings that went along with this fabricated identity of the funny, happy Danika that kept everyone else comfortable and happy, and whenever anything that didn't match that came up, I needed to find a way to protect my ego and make sure that it was right about my identity. And so I ate. I ate to quiet the discomfort that didn't match with who I thought I was and that I didn't know how to properly deal with. And it become completely subconscious behavior which made it even trickier to break that habit. We use food to take the edge off. The same way someone has a cocktail when they come home from work, or wants to crash on the couch and watch mindless TV, or take a cigarette break to escape reality, or over-schedule themselves with being "busy" because they're terrified to be quiet with themselves.  In our case, we use food to soothe and escape and relax. Some call it emotional eating, some call it food addiction, and others haven't developed the awareness to even acknowledge that they're doing it.

It starts with creating an awareness in every single situation in which you reach for food and you are not hungry. Just start there. It doesn't mean you don't get to eat whatever you reached for.  It just means stopping in that fraction of a second, being honest about where your physical hunger is (you can label it on a scale from 1-10 if it helps), and acknowledge the fact that you're eating for a reason besides physical hunger. Our mental/emotional hunger can be very tricky. It tends to come from our mouth or tongue or chest or head. If it isn't coming from your stomach or a genuine low energy from nutrient deficiency (another place where clean eating makes healing infinitely easier because you're getting all your nutrients), acknowledge that you're eating for emotional hunger, not physical. Eventually what you can begin doing is pausing a little bit longer in these moments when you reach for food and you're not physically hungry and use that as a cue. "Oh, I'm not physically hungry but I want to eat... What am I feeling". Carry a little notebook and write down what you're feeling in those moments. If you can identify it (ex. You have a big deadline coming up and you're overwhelmed, or your coworker said something that upset you just seconds before you reached for the chocolate) and then tell yourself you're brave enough to feel it and that it won't break you to do so. That moment of awareness might resolve that desire to eat to soothe and you might just put the chocolate down because you're no longer counting on it to give you a hug and unconditional love. Food, unfortunately, is not love, though it can feel that way in tough moments.  If you can do this even once a day, that is a huge victory. It takes time but it gets easier and easier the more conscious you become.

What I will tell you after almost two decades of deprivation and diets and willpower is that it has nothing to do with any of those things. It's actually so much easier than we've been lead to believe. For me, the biggest shift, the one that has transformed my relationship more than anything else is actually one that happened relatively recently. I found myself at rock bottom in a binge of ice cream and chocolate and chips feeling like I'd exhausted every option there was. Every diet, every book, every tool, every food group. And then I found myself praying, which I don't know that I've done from a genuinely spiritual perspective in all of my life... And then my prayers were answered. And with that little tiny flicker of faith, I was able to fully surrender and became willing to believe that contrary to everything I had been told, all this controlling and managing of food was actually the thing that was hindering my recovery and keeping the weight on. I had also been watching Gabrielle Bernstein's workshop Finally Full and so many of her words just stuck with me, reminding me that my constant anxiety and desire to control was the very thing leading me to the binges. My only option was to believe that there was something much more powerful that could take the struggle from me and handle it, as long as I was willing to trust. And I'm not sure what happened this time around that was different than the thousands of times before that I'd heard the words "surrender", but it just clicked. And since that day, I've never felt such inner peace in my entire life. It has been a long and painful and exhausting journey but there is the brightest light at the end and I know this is just the beginning..

 

Things That Have Been in my Mouth: Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing

Danika Brysha

Another delicious meal has driven me straight to the blogosphere. I was craving a salad for lunch (that sentence was about as recognizable as Arabic for me a few years ago) and I was somewhat bored of my usual olive oil-balsamic-salt-pepper dressing.  I'm traveling to Costa Rica in a few days for a yoga retreat so I'm holding off on going grocery shopping and trying to make use of what I already have in my fridge.  Enter this new salad dressing concoction! And it is DELISH! My mom didn't really cook much growing up- leave it to me to point this out on MOTHERS DAY- but really, she didn't.  We were always on the go so I ate a lot of fast food- pizza, McDonalds, bagels, Taco Bell.  As a result I never really learned how to cook.  As I got older and started caring much more about what went into my body, I was forced to teach myself... and honestly it is super easy. The number one concern I get from people wanting to eat healthier is that they think they can't cook.  I promise you, you can.  Pick a recipe, cook it, and then you can forever use it as a starting point to make your own varieties and mix up flavors and ingredients.

I've been eating super clean for over four months now and essentially follow the Whole30 program, which is quite similar to Paleo.  My diet consists of organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat that is hormone/antibiotic free and properly fed/raised, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and raw nuts. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, I don't eat it.  Period.  I've learned so much about our food industry and I think that we desperately need to get away from all the processed foods, chemicals, and added sugars we are filling ourselves with these days. I don't count calories, fat, or really anything. I eat when I'm hungry and I try not to when I'm not. Four and a half months later, 30lbs lighter, and more vibrant, happy, and energetic than I've been in my entire life- I am living proof of how powerful nutrition can be.  Food is most certainly the best medicine. And I am most certainly in this for life.

I often miss those creamy Caesar and Ranch dressings that I used to eat before I realized what was in them, and I've found the secret ingredient to get back that comforting consistency without the poison.  Cashews!!

Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing Recipe (Paleo, Whole30, and Life-Friendly)- Makes about 4 portions for meal-sized salads

1-3 Organic Garlic Cloves (I'd aim for 1, I used 3 and the Garlic was a little overpowering)

1 1/2 tsps Organic crushed Ginger

1 small jalapeño pepper chopped- seeds/center removed

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews- You must soak these or the dressing won't have the same consistency- Just cover them in water and soak for about 6 hours... or if you're me three weeks because I forgot about them.  I recommend making a double batch so you can use them for other things

3 tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

3 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Salt, Pepper, and Red Chili Peppers to Taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, magic bullet, or whatever fancy apparatus you have that I can't afford. Store excess in a glass jar or tupperware in the fridge. I don't know how long it can stay there. I don't work for the FDA.  I'm surely thinking about it though. 

Arugula Salad with Avocado, Pear, and Cherry Tomatoes (Amounts are for one meal-sized portion)

1/2 bag Organic Arugula 

1/2 Organic Pear

1 cup Organic Cherry Tomatoes- halved lengthwise

Freshly Ground Pepper

Toss arugula, pear and cherry tomatoes in dressing with your hands to coat evenly.  Arrange on plate and add avocado across the top because it will look prettier that way in your Instagram photo.

Enjoy!!

VIDEO: Meditation, Tuning In, and My Weave

Danika Brysha

I've gone and done it friends.  I've started meditating.  And I can't really stop. It's a massive game changer and I had no idea what those crazy meditating people were talking about until my girl Oprah offered me a free 21-day meditation challenge. And if there are two things in this world that I can't say no to, it is Oprah and anything that's free.

Just by sitting still and quieting my conscious thoughts for 20 minutes a day, I have uncovered so many things that I had previously buried with ideas of how things should be, expectations and anxiety, and stories of how I wasn't quite good enough. It has been less than two weeks and I've already discovered a few key points AND seen them playing out immediately in my daily life. Let's just say I've been using the phrases "Wow!" and "Holy Sh!t" in my journal a lot lately.

Here is what I now know for sure through my mediation practice:

1. Everything we need, every single thing, is within us

2. When we find it in ourselves to stop worrying and to trust that we'll be taken care of and everything will be ok, the universe will have the space to get to work.  And that damn "universe" (or God or Energy or whatever you prefer to call it) knows what's best for us. Like always.

3. Letting go of our conscious thoughts allows us access to our core, deeper ones- the ones that know us best and that aren't affected by the stories and lies we tell ourselves- the subconscious self has all the answers but we have to be in a position to listen.

And so maybe this makes me a hippy but I'm certainly ok with that identification if it means I can keep this up on the reg. Do you meditate?  I'd love to hear about your experience if so... mainly to prove that I'm not crazy.  And because I love you. I realized that while meditating. You're welcome.

Check out my experience via video blog, a cameo from Kingsley, and find out why I put my weave in for your viewing pleasure...

Practicing Vulnerability: Journals Unedited

Danika Brysha

In the last couple months, I have been journaling every day.  I absolutely love to write and when I do, time stands still. It has been the first time that I've been able to really make sense of my thoughts and to truly access that deeper level that has been buried or numbed for so long. Most of my blog posts take fragments from my journal and are edited to suit an audience but every now and then I want to share with you the dialogue that comes straight from my heart.  My journal entries, completely unedited.  Here is what came up this morning...

photo 1

Date: Friday, April 11th, 2014

Time: 12:30-1:30pm

Location: NYC- Meatpacking District: random table and chair outside Gaslight

I decided to stop and sit in the action of the city to do this morning's journaling.  With the exception of the cigarette smoke that's reaching my health bubble, everything is pretty perfect.  I just had a casting at Milk Studios so I'm looking pretty top notch as well. I like being alone in a big city occasionally.  All sorts of energy passing by as I peacefully sit here and write.

I want to feel like New York is as magical as if I was sitting in the middle of Paris or Barcelona.  And it is!  It can just be hard to recognize when you feel like it isn't going anywhere.  When you live here it is really easy to take for granted the fact that I'm living in the most beautiful part of the most amazing city in the world.  How lucky am I?!

I really don't need much to make me happy.  Getting good sleep, getting up and ready for the day, and getting out into the world is so fulfilling.  What I'm doing right now is what I hope to be doing forever.  And its so great to know just how little I really need to be happy. A journal, a pen, a roof over my head, food to eat, and love and support around me.  I could really make that a reality anywhere.

photo 2

It's truly a great day in NY.  The first since I've moved here that was really suited to sitting outside and writing.  I have a feeling that Spring will be when I fall madly in love with this place.  As I've been spending more time out and about, meeting people and being present, I'm reminded of how many wonderful people are out in this world.  It's a true shame that we don't get to meet all of them but I trust that the universe brings together the right ones. 

I've been really wanting to be my true, authentic self more lately.  I notice that I still wear a lot of masks and that I want nothing more than to totally strip myself of them in all arenas. The thing is, I know I'm a beautiful, passionate person worth of love and I truly believe that I'd find even more support and much deeper connections if I could just find a way to cut out all the bullshit.  All of the caring what people think, trying to please everyone, and anything I do that suggests I'm trying to be something that I'm not.  I know I'll get there.  I've already come so far and I know it's just a matter of time.  I'm just going to try to be more aware of when I think I may be faking or trying too much and to make some positive shift.

(My friend) Julia is staying with me and she's just so real. So able to be vulnerable and not concern herself with what I think when she tells a story.  She seems to just be really in tune with herself which I admire.  For so long I numbed myself to all my emotions so I can't expect to start feeling and being completely in tune with them right away.  It all takes time.  It's a journey much like mine with food.

photo 3

I'm beginning to get a lot more comfortable with being hungry.  I've found that now that I've told myself that being hungry is ok, I'm a lot less frantic about the concept.  I can relax and live more, knowing that I don't have to plan every move around my next meal.  Knowing that food will always be there and that I won't starve.  It feels really freeing.  And I think that's gonna be the key to being able to tune out the thinking about food all day thing.  Because when I know its ok to be hungry, I can forget to worry about it and in turn focus on living fully during the remainder of my days.  When its not a constant concern, I'll be able to forget about it- which for me is the ultimate goal. 

To only think of food and eating when my physical body tells me it needs fueling.  That would be a true cure for me.  The goal of all of this.  To take all the power away from food and to view it strictly as fuel. 

Be someone who "forgets to eat" or who finally views eating as another normal daily task like going to the bathroom or sleeping.

Something we think about when our body alerts us to its necessity and that we don't think about when it doesn't. That's how I define being cured from food addiction.  That's the END!

I think I've always had a hard time determining what the goal was.  What to strive for at the very end of all of this.  What I can tell people to expect when they can finally conquer all of this.  Being the kind of person that can have a box of Cheez-Its go stale in the cupboard or find a bag of peanut M&M's that have expired in your pantry.  

And fortunately through all of this I've managed to become super passionate about health and nutrition as well.  Thinking for so long that they were two completely related concepts but really they're quite different.  I'm glad my comfort eating led me to thinking nutrition was the answer because though I'm realizing that it isn't, I managed to gain an extreme love and passion for quality, real, whole foods in this process of self-discovery.  And that is truly invaluable!

Danika

Health Challenge: Cutting Out Processed Foods… without obsessing

Danika Brysha

I had the privilege of interviewing health and wellness expert, Chelsea Hise-Strate, of Life Balance by Chelsea.  She is like my own personal Dr. Oz.  Except not really anything like that.  I recently decided that I want to do whatever it takes to live my best life ever and that it was time to start questioning almost every behavior that I have.  I told Chelsea this and she decided to give me a personal challenge.  The challenge was to not eat any processed foods for one week and to keep a food journal documenting what I ate, when I ate it, and how I was feeling.  Chelsea sent me over a cheat sheet and some info for my first day of the challenge which you can see here.  Check out the video to see how the challenge went.  Spoiler alert:  I’m addicted to clean eating!

And if you missed the original interview, you can see it here

There you have it.  I’ve been sucked in to the healthy living lifestyle and I don’t see myself leaving it any time soon.  I love that feeling when something just clicks and you know you are on to something.  I knew I could do the challenge but I had no idea just how much it would change my body and ultimately my life.  If I feel this great after a week of eating like this then I can’t imagine how I’ll be feeling in a few months or even years.  I’ve always had some acne and it has been clearing up like crazy.  My energy and positivity is through the roof and I have had multiple friends comment on the physical change they see in me, specifically in the brightness of my eyes!  I sound like a total hippy granola lover right now (raw, organic granola that is).  And I’m ok with that.

If you’re interested in seeing what I ate over the course of the week and how I was feeling, click here.

Food has always been an issue for me.  As some of you know, I had a pretty severe eating disorder for about a decade of my life.  I spent all my energy being consumed with weight loss and food.  I have to admit that when I was given this challenge, I was a bit fearful.  Afraid that consuming my mind with food would plunge me back into the disordered mindset I had finally fought off.  Scared that putting so much energy into recording my every bite would flash me back to the years I spent counting every single calorie.  But after honest consideration, I decided that I am at a healthy enough place in my life that I could take on this challenge.  And I am more than grateful that I did.

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So much of my eating issues have been based around control.  I’m not sure if eating disorders ever fully go away but I can promise that they lose almost all of their power with each and every day that you commit to overcoming them.  Not only was I altering my diet and recording my every bite, I was continuing the ongoing process of learning to eat out of physical hunger rather than emotionally. I have to fight every day to not reach for comfort food any time I feel stressed, tired, overwhelmed, sad or bored.   Geneen Roth is an author who has changed my life and I highly recommend her books to anybody suffering from emotional eating or who feels like they are constantly in a battle with food and their body.

But with this challenge I found that I felt more in control than ever before.  I didn’t obsess over what I was eating- I chose to eat things because I started listening to my body and paying attention to what made it feel good.  I was able to recognize that I didn’t need to be perfect with this.  All that mattered was that I did my best.  I was more in tune with my body than every before.  Where I used to look for food as an escape from how I was feeling, I was finally able to get fully in touch with myself.  I felt like I could finally shift my thought process from seeing food as an evil, to recognizing how wonderful fresh nutrient-rich food could make me feel.

It is early to say this, but I’m fairly certain that this is the start of a lifetime of health, wellness, and self-appreciation.  I have no plans to be perfect but I have every intention of giving it my best shot.  This challenge has woken me up to how connected everything truly is.  Because I am feeling so great physically, my mind is clearer and I am happier.  I am infinitely more productive, driven, and present, and I have been spending my new excess of energy on trying to bring joy to all those that I come into contact with.

Have any of you experienced similar results from a change in your diet and lifestyle? I would love to hear your story of transformation and share it with other readers so we can continue to inspire people to live their best lives possible.

I will keep you guys posted on how this all progresses but as of now it has been two weeks since I started and I have no intention whatsoever to stop.  Thanks for supporting me in this journey and if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, I would absolutely love to hear it!

Check out Chelsea's website here: Life Balance by Chelsea