Healthy Body, Healthy Mind – The Right Attitude Towards Eating
For years now we’ve frequently had the message drummed into us that cutting the junk out of our diets is essential for good health, and it seems to be having an impact . On one level, this is absolutely fantastic. What you put into your body has an enormous impact on what you get out of it, and this applies as much to the parts of your body which deal with emotions and thought processes  as it does to the way you look in a bikini. However, in order to really nail the diet-and-wellness equation, you need to be able to think about your diet in the right way, just as much as you need to be able to put the right foods on your plate. Confused? Let us explain:
Mind And Body
Here in the West we suffer more than many other cultures from something known as ‘dichotomous thinking’. Essentially, this means that Western cultures are more likely than Eastern cultures to try and separate things, classify them in isolation, and present them as delineated opposites rather than as part of a greater whole. As such, we tend to view our minds and our bodies as different entities, when in fact they are intrinsically connected. When it comes to diet, and our attitudes to our diet, this is actually quite dangerous. It means that people tend to prioritize one over the other – body over mind – when making dietary choices, when in fact what they eat affects their entire person, body, mind, and soul. A comfort-eater or an alcoholic, for example, is prioritising their ‘mind’ (their emotions) over the health of their body, while someone with an eating disorder like bulimia  is prioritizing their body over the rest of themselves. In both cases, this is thoroughly maladaptive. The truth is that the mind and the body are part of a complete whole. What happens to one affects the other, and vice versa. In order to embark upon a truly healthy lifestyle, we in the West need to learn how not only to change our diets, but to change our dichotomous mindset when it comes to our bodies, our minds, and what we put in them. Indeed, dichotomous thinking has been directly related to the development of both eating disorders  and obesity – issues which currently present considerable risks to Western society. We clearly need to get our attitudes to our food and our bodies sorted, and quickly.
The Whole Person
When someone comfort-eats junk food, as mentioned above, they are giving their emotional state priority over their physical state. When you start to take a step back and view yourself as a complete entity, it quickly becomes obvious how misguided this is. Your brain is a part of your body, and depends upon the nutrients you put into it. Not giving it the right nutrition means that it can’t regulate your moods and so on properly – thus rendering your ‘comfort food’ precisely the opposite. Poor diet has been linked to depression , among a host of other nasties. At the other end of the scale, an anorexic or bulimic who starves him/herself in order to transform their body is (as we all know) doing untold damage to that same body in the process – and hurting their already compromised mental health as they do so . Conversely, those who eat healthily for the sake of their bodies feel the positive impacts in their minds as well, and those who have a healthy mental attitude are likely to feel the bodily benefits. Clearly one cannot prioritize either mind or body when making dietary decisions, as they are all part of the same entity that is YOU, and cannot be treated in isolation .
Do It For Yourself
So how does one bring this principle to play in everyday life – and why should one? Isn’t it enough just to eat healthily for the sake of your body, and reap the benefits in your mind? To answer the latter question first – it can be, but only if you’re able to sustain that kind of lifestyle without becoming either obsessive over the way your body looks to the detriment of your mental health, or lapsing into comfort eating after reaching a certain weight. There’s a reason why so many dieters spring back to their former weights within a few years, and that’s that all they’ve done is stick to a certain plan for the sake of their bodies, without changing their entire mental attitude towards their diet. If one is able, however, to view the food one puts on one’s plate as something which is essential to being the best person that you can be in every way possible (rather than essential just to fitting in the right jeans), then a healthy lifestyle instantly becomes way more sustainable. How does one achieve this? It’s not easy – but it involves consciously and mindfully paying attention to what you’re putting into your body, catching yourself out when you start to prioritize body over mind or vice versa, and trying your hardest to think of yourself as a complete whole. Learn that whatever you do to yourself – be that chomping down greasy fries or beating yourself up mentally over something – is going to have some kind of impact on every part of you. Treat yourself like the complete entity that you are, and don’t start splitting bits of yourself off to treat differently. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier – and the healthy, happy, fit you is worth the effort!