Monday, May 2, 2011

Things I had wished I knew at 20 about Food and my Body: Part II Interview with 40:20 Vision

As a 20-something who is constantly looking to women older and wiser than I for mentorship, support and guidance I was struck by the utter brilliance of Christina Vuleta's website 40:20 vision. 40:20 Vision is "an experiment in sharing the wisdom of 40-something women with 20-something women." With everything from advice on relationships, careers and body image, the site is a godsend for those of us looking for a little bit of guidance. Last week I posted part I of this interview, and now I'll reveal all of Christina's wisdom!

In general, how do you think 20-something women and 40-something women differ in the relationships with food?

It’s a lifelong relationship but it does get friendlier. Food is such a part of our lives and our love / hate relationship with ourselves.

In your 20’s it’s about camaraderie and consolation. It’s pizza late night with your friends and overdosing on Entenmann’s crumb cake. It’s getting through your break up with Ben and Jerry’s. It’s eating what’s cheap and available and fast. I look back and realize that all I ate in college was cheese and bread. Pizza, nachos, bagels and cream cheese, cheese fries, mac and cheese and my go-to dorm room fix of cheese melted in a tortilla in the microwave. Yes, I did gain the freshman fifteen. As I entered the working world I graduated to eating a box a cereal or pasta every night for dinner. I was lucky enough to work for a company that had a wellness program at work. I learned quickly that was not a healthy diet and over the years I learned about nutrition. I got reacquainted with vegetables and protein and found that I like the tastes of certain things. I can crave a sweet potato and asparagus now as much as I used to crave a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. But I also can eat peanut butter everyday without thinking it’s bad because it has “fat” in it. It does take learning and experimentation but you can find healthy foods that you like and then it’s not a battle to eat right.

There are times when you feel like food is your only friend, hopefully you can get to a place where it is something you enjoy with friends. You learn not to beat yourself up over going over the limit…and you give yourself permission to enjoy a special meal without guilt.

Of course there are many 40-somethings who struggle with weight and we all know the stats on obesity in this country. There’s so much working against us from media images to mixed messages from health experts to quick-fix schemes to emotional and financial costs. For the seriously overweight or underweight the relationship is much more complex. For those of us in the middle, it’s a matter of education and commitment to a lifestyle rather than instant gratification. This woman has a strong opinion on the benefits of balance.

It is disheartening that women are so preoccupied with weight and food "management" and not focused on finding a healthy balance of exercise and eating that will maintain weight. So many of us make poor food choices from eating for comfort, overeating, not eating and dieting obsessively when 20 min of cardio work a day and educated food choices would enable you to eat decently without fear of gaining a pound. There is soooo much information about healthy eating choices and exercise - it is something I cannot stress enough that you must commit to for life. It will rid your life of dieting and self-hate.

What is something you wish you had known as a 20-something about food and your body that the wiser older version of you now "gets"?

- That restricting calories too much really does make you get into a plateau.

- That calories in really do equal calories out.

- That nobody is perfect.

- That it’s better to eat something you like than try to make something that tastes like cardboard taste better. You’ll only go back for something that satisfies you or overeat the thing that bores you.

- That it’s okay to indulge occasionally

- That you have to find what works for you. It’s not the same for everyone.

I used to obsess about weight and learned over time to lighten up. When you do indulge it doesn't instantly add pounds and once you learn that, you are less likely to overindulge. When you deprive yourself of something because you think eating it will literally add that pound to the scale, sooner or later you're going to binge on it and then feel bad about yourself. And when you feel bad about yourself, you eat poorly. Try to just eat a little and enjoy it. I used to have a tendency to eat the whole pint of ice cream or if one cupcake was good, then two was better. But then I'd feel sick. So two things work for me. One, if I'm not around these foods, I don't miss them. Out of sight out of stomach. Then when I do feel like an ice cream cone I can go get a cone and enjoy. Two, when I'm around food that triggers overindulgence (the every other week cupcakes someone brings into work or a glass of wine a friends home with the cheese and crackers staring in my face...just one more little slice...adds up) I just tell myself that that particular food is not going anywhere. There will be ice cream tomorrow, next week, next year. Chocolate is not endangered. So have a bite, or two, enjoy and know that it is not your last bite.

Thank you so much Christina for sharing your infinite wisdom! Want more?? Check out 40:20 vision and follow Christina on Twitter!

What is 1 thing you wish you could tell yourself 5 years ago?

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