Today we will look at Principle #3 – Make Peace with Food.
I think this principle is one that I feel most strongly about. And it fits in perfectly with my earlier post about “Can’t”
and an email I got from a reader today. I could not agree more with our need to make peace with food. I truly think this is the basis that will help make all the other facets easier to incorporate into how you view food and relate to it
. However, I also think it is the hardest.
Many of us, especially the fit bloggin’ community, have spent numerous hours researching the “best” way to eat for health. Learning what foods are optimal or hindering for our goals. Figuring out all sorts of rules, tips, and guidelines about how to eat. But, do we really need all of that? At some point, the information stops being helpful and becomes hindering. It can lead to restrictions and guilt and stress.
I know I have faced my fair share of food guidelines that ended in very negative actions on my part. Namely binging and a very horrible self image. Why did I do these things? Because I “shouldn’t” eat food A. Because food B would make me gain weight fast. Because food C is only meant to be consumed around tough workouts. This food is good. That food is bad. I am bad. I did good today. I was awful and I must make up for it tomorrow. Tomorrow…..tomorrow….tomorrow….binged again….tomorrow.
You know when this all stopped? Sadly, it took me getting pregnant with Makenzie and waking up to realize there was more to my body than myself. I wanted to take care of her, but also, I knew I should be eating more and I allowed things that were always “off limits” before to be part of my regular diet. The negativity surrounding certain things stopped. I didn’t feel guilty for having some icecream. Or for eating a piece of fruit more than once in a day. Or for having starchier veggies instead of solely green beans and asparagus (which I STILL cannot eat since my first comp prep 3 years ago). The cravings died down. Knowing that if I truly wanted something I could have it made it not have to be a “last supper” type of feast when I “allowed” myself to eat certain things.
I also learned that my body craved balance. I wouldn’t want to just eat and eat tons of sugar because I recognized how it made me feel. And that is what kept me from binging again. I could have a cookie and not feel bad. I could have pizza and move on with life. I could eat an amount of things I wanted that left me feeling satisfied, instead of uncomfortably full. And after eating something heavier, I would always go back to eating fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, etc because it was what my body wanted. Removing labels from food freed me in a way I could not have imagined. I no longer had to face the “what the hell, I’ll just eat everything in sight today” moments after having a “bad diet day”. I could eat in a balanced way, enjoy it, and not be focused on food.
In the book Intuitive Eating,
they discuss a seesaw affect. When we have our good & bad food lists, the more deprived we are the less guilt we have. However, the seesaw can only go so high. Our deprivation (or “good” eating) can only go so far before we cave. Then the seesaw swings to the opposite with guilt high and deprivation low.
However, if we reject the diet mentality and make peace with food, our lives can be in equilibrium. We can have NO deprivation and NO guilt. It doesn’t have to be a roller coaster of ups and downs. It can be a smooth ride instead. What are some steps we can take to truly allowing ourselves to not only honor our hunger by eating enough, but also to choose what we really want at a meal?
- Accept the fact that no one food has the power to make you fat or fit. Throw out the good and bad food lists.
- Eat what you want without feeling the need to earn it or pay penance for it.
- Try foods and see if they really appeal to you. If they do, enjoy them. Sometimes we simply lust after certain foods for the fact we “can’t” have them.
- Take things one step at a time. You don’t have to open yourself to eating everything you previously wouldn’t allow yourself to eat. Try incorporating one trigger food at a time. Eventually, simply knowing the food is available if you want it takes the focus off of it and reduces the cravings and desires to eat so much of it.