Embracing the exception, forgetting the myths and practicing self-love: Coaching tips for a much healthier diet (and life)

At a time when the anxiety for a second confinement robs us of energy, eating healthy to the extreme has become not only an obsession, but a trend on Instagram and currents such as realfooding demonize the saccharin that you take every morning in the cafe, chat with Cristina Barroso, nutrition technician and coach It's a breath of fresh air. It is also a reality shock far from the perfection of the 'healthy' in which there is room to give in to the whims that make you happy (all, and whoever says otherwise lies vilely, they have an ingredient finished in -osa, aka, sugar) from conscience and personal self-knowledge.

Cristina, like many entrepreneurs, never imagined that she would be a coach, but there she is, Instagram account @barrous -with delicious recipes and photons- included. He started in the world of decoration, but his last ten working years have been in advertising, six of them as head of an expanding communication agency and in which he led 125 people.

With her second child, she decided to breathe and stop "I took a kind of leave of absence before delivery. And I found myself in a kind of loop in which I began to question things. I think it's not healthy to always question what you want to do, but yes It is once in a while to see if something satisfies you. Doing this introspection I realized that I enjoyed the leadership part and the accompaniments, but the management had me exhausted. I had left my whole world of designing beautiful things to to be looking at policies and credits all day … I decided that I wanted to get closer to the more human part. I started studying two masters, one in coaching and the other in nutrition, and from there … "he tells us through Zoom, gajes de the pandemic.

We have talked to her about her Triple C plan to improve the relationship we have with food, ultra-processed and above all … self-love, but we have also learned things: from now on, we are going to embrace the exception. And mental health, undoubtedly falls within the well-being as a whole. If you want ice cream, eat it. No regrets, coach's word.

How would you explain to someone who has an unhealthy diet what conscious eating is?

I would tell you that conscious eating is one that benefits your body, your mind and that allows you to enjoy food in any of its formats. Conscious eating is 'I eat everything and whatever I eat, I know how it affects my body'. I accept the option that there are times that I eat things that are not the best for my body, but emotionally I need it. I embrace the consequences of food and keep in mind what they are at all times.

What would you say are your three pillars in a healthy diet?

To be sustainable, I could tell you about the environmentalist and others but for me it is more that it is durable. We have to change this short-term mentality that we have in health, this would be the first. The second would be that it is based on self love. You always have to love your body, at any point, because you have to be super grateful that it works … for everything it does for us. And above all, a good organization, which is what makes it sustainable. Because improvisation always triggers old habits that are not healthy. Although yes, you have to be flexible and you have to understand the moment in which we are.

How is a coach different from a nutritionist?

My mission and the mission of the coaching that I do is to demolish the culture of diet and through self-love, teach how to take care of our body and food. My coaching sessions have three phases and I combine two things; on the one hand the sessions and on the other hand the meal plans. Usually I go to a nutritionist and say "I want to lose 5 kg." Then he weighs me, measures me and gives me a list of ingredients. So he says to me "this yes and this no", basically. It doesn't ask you your lifestyle habits, what you like to eat for breakfast, it doesn't take into account the days you exercise … because there is only one goal and that is to lose weight. Here the objective is another. We are going to make your relationship with food conscious and healthy. The obvious consequence of eating right is that you will lose weight, but I do not work with that main goal.

Your coaching plan is called Triple C, what does it consist of?

It is called triple C because in each phase there is a C. The first Self-knowledge: if I don't value my body, it is very difficult for me to relate well to food. The first month the sessions are once a week, ideally at the beginning to start it strongly. There we will identify any beliefs you have about food. From childhood memories, to negative thoughts … identify what prevents us from relating well to food. The second phase is that of Nutritional knowledge, how what we eat affects our body. What I teach in the sessions, which are done every two weeks, is how many carbohydrates you should eat, what they do in your body … And so we demolish beliefs such as that fruit makes you fat, that we have to drink water before eating, etc. And the third phase is that of the Continuity and habit generation. In the last month I give all the tools so that you know how to make the ideal dish, the shopping list … because there comes a time when I disappear and the goal is for the client to know how to manage this only to make it sustainable over time.

What is special about your meal plans?

Unlike a nutri, my meal plans take into account what's behind it. That is, food is emotional and the sooner we understand it, the better. We live in one culture in which when we are sad we eat and when we are happy we eat moreSo that I want people to put point in their mouth when anxiety appears … in the short term it may have an effect, but it will not be sustainable over time. Has no sense. In addition, eating is one of the great pleasures of life and trying to look the other way and think that it must be a bore, is horror. I refuse. For example, I send lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday, three breakfasts and two snacks, I don't send food for the weekends and I don't tell you this yes and this no, because we go back to the beginning: it will not be sustainable and much worse , it will limit you socially. I also send the shopping list, avoiding the critical moment in the cookie aisle. What do you really want cookies? Well, I'll tell you a recipe, the healthiest brand, but always giving you the best ones for you.

How do you think we can train ourselves mentally to move from the culture of diet to mindful eating?

I will make a comparison. If you had a lot of money and you bought the last car. The best, the latest generation. The car of your life and they ask you, what gasoline are you going to give it, the best gasoline on the market or a bad gasoline? Surely, you would agree to it. I believe that to make that click, that transition, it is essential to give value to our body. For that, you need knowledge, of course. But also self-love. And in parallel, you have to tear down beliefs like "I'll only be valid when I'm attractive", I have grown up with this obsession. You have to break down the belief that thinness equals validity and then health. This diet culture must be demolished. And above all, healthy food has to be tasty: otherwise, it will be very healthy for your body, but not for your mind. And you must bring these two factors together.

What cannot be missing from a shopping list that pursues this goal?

Whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oats, quinoa … Vegetables; in fact 30% of the shopping list that I make are vegetables and greens. This is something key that you cannot miss. Always forgetting these myths such as that "grapes get fat, because they have sugar", or for example figs. And obviously, with seasonal produce, because I believe that sustainability has that factor. Legumes cannot be lacking either, at least twice a week. In purees, hummus, stews … Lean meats and fish, not red because I understand that it is something intended for occasional consumption and that we can find more on weekends. The lists and plans are personalized, both preferences such as sports, fasts … And very importantly seeds and sauces. Especially peanut butter, tahini, and unsweetened soybeans.

And speaking of the shopping list … How much do you have to trust this social construction that if you want to lose weight, everything has to be skimmed?

Fat must be differentiated, we have good fat and bad fat. Bad fat, where is it? In the ultra-processed and red meats, especially. The rest is good fat. Non-skim yogurt is perfectly healthy. The problem is in our use of good fat. If one day I have an avocado, a Greek yogurt and a burrata, I have gone too far with fats, even if they are good. Fats have to be a small percentage of our diet within a balanced diet. A fat-free diet is only going to make your body not work well. That is much more important than if you have two kilos left over. The crux of the matter is in debunking myths, but also in knowledge.

The key is to really know how much the options we put on the plate feed, right?

Clear. If I now tell you that spinach is high in carbohydrates, you do not believe it. Because we don't have that information. Many times we have created stereotypes, we have endowed food with a moral value that makes us forget its nutritional value. We do not know how much an avocado feeds or how much seeds feed. Some avocado toast with seeds on top can be great for the photo, very nice, but it is fat with fat … knowledge is very important.

And we open another melon … the sugar and the sweeteners.

The WHO says that health is physical, psychological and social well-being. And I would add emotional too. You need your diet to be social, ready to meet the needs you may have. It is not realistic to think that you will never have sugar again in your entire life. What I recommend is that refined sugar does not enter the house. For example, I use maple syrup or agave a lot in my recipes. Now what does the WHO say? No more than 25g of sugar a day. It seems easy, but the problem is in the processed products, so they should not be included in the shopping list. If you like yogurt with honey, take a tablespoon of honey because it also has many properties. Chocolate, yes: but 85% and with sugar because sweeteners alter the microbiota and inflame us. It is finding the balance, one that makes you happy and is sustainable over time by focusing on the ultra-processed. And from doors to outside … embrace the exception. Nothing happens, but let it be the exception, as a specific thing. No anxiety or guilt about doing it.

And speaking of anxiety, now that a possible second confinement is the order of the day. What advice would you give when food becomes an escape route?

We are lucky that we can buy online to avoid temptations. Food is neither won nor lost, as I said before, it has no moral value. That "because he has earned it", we should erase it from the vocabulary. There it is best to try to go for one minor road. Pretending that you eat nothing instead of a bag of chips is impossible. Also, you are going to get bitter and at the time you are going to eat it whole, you are even going to go down to the supermarket and you are going to eat two. On this secondary road we would generate new, healthier habits. They are not raw carrots, but they are some homemade popcorn made with olive oil, which can also generate satisfaction. I don't choose plan A, but I have a secondary career that I also like and is comforting. And the best of all is that when you go to bed, you forget the feeling of guilt and on top of it you feel good. If it's still impossible, eat the fries. But put them in a small bowl accompanied by a secondary road such as olives.

What positive consequences does mindful eating trigger?

I remember a book by Leticia Dolera called ‘Bite the apple’ which explains that when you take off your glasses and see everything as it really is, you can no longer put them on again: you have changed your paradigm. Extrapolated to this, it is as if you had opened your eyes and understood your life, your health and your body in a different way. That chip change is for life. And you will not return to the habits of before, it is impossible.

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