I’ve always loved January. There’s a freshness in the air, a pep in my step — and an excitement that only the new year can bring. It’s an incredible opportunity to reflect on the past year, and set new goals, striving towards a vision for what the future can bring. But along with new goals often comes a dark side: the temptation to hop on a drastic diet plan, cleanse or detox.
There’s nothing wrong with a little self-improvement, but many people feel pressured to jump into crash diets to “repent” for their holiday eating sins. In the past, I was very much one of those people. I’d feel great for a few weeks: in control and on top of the world. I remember thinking, “Go me! I’m crushing this whole diet thing,” ...until, I wasn’t. A few slices of pizza with the girls led to a week-long binge — and feelings of guilt and shame. So this year, I decided to take a different approach: what if I replaced restriction with self-love? (I know. Crazy, right?)
First, to give you a little background on me — and more importantly, my past relationship with food. I studied nutrition at UC Berkeley, where I developed an eating disorder while trying to eat perfectly clean all the time. A few years after graduating, I was sick of my mood being dictated by the scale, so I embarked on a journey to self-love and body positivity. Bottom line: food and I haven’t always been the best of friends.
So what exactly does replacing restriction with self-love look like? Well, one of my biggest struggles with food has always been emotional eating. Food is emotional, and I think everyone emotionally eats from time to time — but mine was different. I was using food to cope with (and escape from) my emotions, instead of feeling them. In years past, I felt like being more strict with myself would cure my emotional eating. I thought “tightening the reins” would solve everything, but only resulted in feeling disappointed in myself when I “fell off the wagon.”
This year, I chose self-love. When I felt overwhelmed with work and wanted to dive head-first into a jar of peanut butter, I paused, leaned into my emotions and asked myself, “what do I really need right now?” I slowed down and listened — and for the first time in my life, I turned inward to understand the why behind my emotions.
The emotional eating didn’t completely evaporate overnight, of course. But something pretty incredible happened: by treating myself with compassion and respect, my relationship with food shifted, as well. I started to view my body as my best friend — someone who deserved nothing but love. And naturally, it became easier to feed my body the way it deserved to be treated: with nutrient-dense foods to nourish my body and delicious treats to nourish my soul.
If you have a goal for yourself this year, I challenge you to approach it from a place of self-love instead of punishment, and nourishment instead of deprivation. You’ll be amazed how your mind and body responds.
Ali Bonar has been passionate about food and wellness since she was a young girl, and she went on to study nutrition at UC Berkeley. After going through her own wellness journey, she wanted to create a healthy and delicious alternative to nut butter - and Kween Foods Granola Butter was born! But Kween isn't just a company, it's a community brimming with self-love and body positivity. Kween believes you look your best when you feel your best, no matter what size that is. Not that is a mission we can get behind! If you missed out on Kween in your January box, you can still order some at kween.co - use code CLEANFITBOX for 15% off your order!