Imagine a world where food had no impact on the way you looked. Chicken and broccoli didn’t “make you skinny” and donuts wouldn’t cause any weight gain….
Imagine a world where thin was not the cultural ideal and there were no expectations with our outer appearance. Bodies were just bodies, and they came in all shapes and sizes. No questions asked.
How would this change the way you ate? What foods would you enjoy eating? What quantity would you eat them in? How would you FEEL? What foods would TRULY satisfy and satiate you?
Talk about some food for thought!!
But seriously, let’s really think about this. The next time you sit down for a meal or open the fridge, ask yourself the above questions. What are you eating because you actually LIKE it, and what are you eating because you feel like it’s the “right” choice for your waist line? Most of us are either in a constant pursuit of weight loss or have a fear of gaining weight (or both), and we end up going through life never truly enjoying our food. And when we do eat something we really love, we might do it with a hefty side of guilt, shovelling it in while standing next to the kitchen counter before anyone catches us! Is that how you want to live out the rest of your life? My guess is no.
BUT, you may be thinking, I NEED FOOD RULES OTHERWISE I’LL JUST EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT AND NEVER PICK UP A SALAD AGAIN! Relax, I can almost guarantee that will not be the case. Our bodies are so smart! We really need to start trusting them!
If you just 100% let go, let yourself eat, let yourself enjoy food, there would most likely be a period of rebelliousness. You might dive into all the things you told yourself you were never “allowed” to eat. But after a few days things would settle down. Food would stop being so tempting, it will lose its allure because you can HAVE it anytime you want. There are no rules anymore! Your appetite will regulate itself and your body will ask for what it needs. Somedays it will be spinach salad and smoothies, and other days it might be French fries or ice cream. Is that ok? Sure it is! Because in the end it all balances out.
There is no denying that a green smoothie has more nutrition than an ice cream sundae, but ignoring your body’s desire for ice cream does nothing to serve you either. We need to relax around food and let go of the unnecessary rules in order to foster a healthy relationship to our bodies and to food. Yes, eating nutrient dense foods and understanding some basic principles on how to balance your plate with all your macro and micro nutrients IS important. BUT, I would argue that denying yourself joy and pleasure with food is more damaging than indulging in some “junk food” every now and then.
Still not convinced? Let me ask you, how many food rules have you actually stuck to? When you tell yourself that you’re no longer allowed to eat food “X” for 30 days, how long do you last? And then what happens on day 31? Do you eat everything in sight? Food rules and food restrictions only set us up to build unhealthy relationships to food and to ourselves. Plain and simple.
This is why I no longer coach and recommend this approach to my clients. It teaches us nothing about how to listen to our bodies and build trust. We need to trust that when our body is asking for a food that falls outside the “healthy” umbrella, there must be a reason. And it’s OK!
So my challenge to you the next time you head to the grocery store, open the fridge, or sit down to order food at a restaurant is to take pause. Notice. Listen. Relax. See what comes up, you may be surprised! And if salad does pop into your mind, eat it because you WANT to, not because you feel you HAVE to.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! What do you truly want to eat? How does that make you feel?