I'm not sure if you know this about me already, but I LOVE food. I love thinking about it, photographing it, writing about it, Pinning it, preparing it, cooking it, smelling it, and of course eating it.
If you've known me a little while, you may also know that I am an emotional eater. I eat especially when I am anxious, and don't get me started on how I recover from a migraine!
The trouble is, when a foodie and an emotional eater are combined in one package, the results are often lots of jiggly bits. Many years ago when I was in the throes of a 5 year chronic sickness phase I met a great dietician who was unable to cure me of my pain, but did help me identify some unhealthy associations I had with food. I hadn't really noticed how much I used food to soothe me, calm me down, and all other kinds of negative emotional attachments I reacted to with food. Food can be such a positive experience though. It can be sociable, rewarding if you cook something impressive, and just downright delicious. As someone who spends a lot of positive time with food, I have noticed that in doing the Fast Diet (my original post here) I still was hanging on to some of my negative attachments, and so needed to turn back to some old techniques, and my most effective was the Non-Food Cuddles.
Much like the little character Jules in "Hug Time", one of my favourite book of Madeleines', you have to come up with a list of hugs! But these are a list of things that you can do instead of reaching for food when you are bored/upset/stressed/anxious/angry/etc then you may stop some bad habits and in turn, be a fair bit healthier, in many ways.
The list I had when I was 19 was VERY different to the list I made this week, but, the important thing is finding actual things you would choose instead of food, or it won't work. So here are my Non-Food Cuddles, and most of them are very affordable, so its not like you need to go and buy yourself a pair of earrings instead of having a donut!! Mmmm donuts...
1. Literary Cuddle
I often find that when I have a bit of time free in the afternoons while my baby girl is sleeping is when I like to create something spectacular to eat for myself. It is very indulgent but I feel like having that un-interrupted time to myself is such a luxury and so reward such time with food. Instead though, my non-food solution is a Literary Cuddle. When I have quiet free time, I should embrace reading a book for half an hour. The settling down for some quiet personal time would be such a departure from my day that I might just find it relaxes me far more than does beating eggs!
2. Conversational Cuddle
I'm not a very chatty person. Unless I know you well, then you would know I can gabber on all day. I am quite shy by nature and am far better at conversing via the written word rather than spoken. But, when I do call a friend/family member and have a chat, I just love it and feel so much better afterwards (most of the time!!). So again, if I have free time I have been finding that picking up my phone/signing into Skype is a great way to feel connected to the world and take my mind off whatever it was that I was trying to cover with food.
3. Floral Cuddle
I am very lucky, my husband buys me/the house flowers a lot. We have a little florist stall down on the High Street which sells extremely affordable blooms and so we don't mind spending £3 on a bunch of beautiful roses every other week. I was walking past said florist the other day (which is right next to Starbucks I may add) and I had the thought, would you rather spend £3 on a Starbucks coffee that last half an hour and is quite likely terrible for you; or, would you rather spend £3 on a bunch of flowers that brightens you and your house for about a week?!? I chose flowers. You don't have to have someone buy them for you, why not cheer yourself up a little when you are out next instead of spending money on bakery food/coffees/donuts.
4. Exercise Cuddle
Exercise gives you endorphins. You, not me. I feel tired and sore most of the time! But, lately, I have been choosing to go for a walk, or run up and down our stairs, or do a 7 Minute Workout and then I feel better about myself for the rest of the day. If I do this earlier on in the day it also means for the rest of the day I don't want to un-do my good work from the morning, so make better choices all day as a consequence.
5. Bubble Cuddle
Not the drinking kind (unfortunately, although they give other sorts of cuddles too) but the bathing kind. You are never EVER too old for bubble baths. I could spend hours soaking in the tub, aside from the wrinkly fingers and curious baby wondering why she can't get in too! I know bath's aren't for everyone, but they make me happy. I have finished my all time favourite bubble bath now (hint hint Santa...) but this Laduree bubble bath is not too sweet but yet very bubbly! Until I have a replacement though, it's Burts Baby Bees for mama!!
6. Stretch Cuddle
It is so simple and you can do it anywhere but it feels so good. For someone with hyper mobility (most of my joints have an unusually large range of motion) I am extremely un-flexible! I can't sit on the floor with my legs out straight without it pulling my hamstrings. So stretching is a bit important for me, but I never remember to do it. But being on my list means I do it a lot more than before!! And the funny thing is that it hurts but its a good hurt. If I commit myself to a ten minute stretching session I feel more relaxed and feel like I have connected with my body and so are more in tune for the rest of the day.
7. Dance Cuddle
VERY embarrassing so for me, it's blinds closed, lights off, earphones in and GO FOR IT!
8. Beauty Cuddle
I don't really have a beauty regime. After spending a few hours at a makeup counter in Bloomingdales and having the Estee Lauder continually threaten to "slap you down girl" I do now take off my makeup each night, apply an eye cream, and then moisturise in the morning! But the one beauty routine I do adore is painting my nails. As soon as I became a mum, it felt like I could have everything crumbling around me but if I had my nails nicely painted, then I would at least feel a little bit like I had my sh*t together. I loved getting my nails done in NewYork ($10 manicures, yes please) but can't afford the £30 ones here in London, so do it myself at home.
9. Pinterest Cuddle
Warning: Do not ambly browse Pinterest if you are trying to avoid food. It will find you. Instead, you need to use the categories to narrow the field to something enjoyable to look through. I have a few favourite boards that I add to when I'm avoiding food... Theres: Bub Love, Tickles my funny bone, House to Home, and Where are we going I don't quite know.
10. Creative Cuddle
I think this one is quite a meg-specific cuddle because I know not everyone feels buzzed about spray painting an old iron doorstop!! But I sure do. I get an infinite amount of enjoyment out of creative things and love making something and seeing the finished product being put to use. I have a bucket list of a gazillion things that I want to make/create/recondition and so I keep this list nearby and let the creative juices flow through me instead of Mimosa juices!! Perhaps art gives me the endorphins that exercise should!
And of course, the cuddles that don't need to be on a list...
So there you have it, my personal 10 Non-Food Cuddles. Being on the Fast Diet has really just brought to my attention how much of my time is spent participating in food, and made me want to make sure that these behaviours are the positive ones from here on out.
Have you heard of coming up with a list like this and if not, what would you include on yours??