As I get further into my twenties it seems like all I can think about is what I’m not doing right. I don’t mean that to be dramatic but honestly it’s rough. Am I doing the right thing for my career? Do I drink enough water? Am I spending too much money at Target? It’s a symptom of comparison, really. But today I want to talk about the biggest one: Food.
Before we get too deep into this I want to make sure we’re all on the same page. When I say “relationship with food” it is very different than a diet. What I mean by that is if you eat a good burger or a good salad, the hope is that you would feel the same. You shouldn’t feel guilty for eating the burger or satisfied for eating the salad. If you like it, and it tastes good you should feel content. It’s more of a mental game than anything else.
I never had any issue with my weight or how I ate. But I remember specifically in elementary school proclaiming one day, “I need to eat healthier”. I don’t know where the desire came from but I made myself a “meal plan” and I ate a grapefruit with peanut butter toast in the morning and the salad bar at lunch. Coming home I would beam with pride to my parents and tell them all of the “bad stuff” I had avoided. I began to feel better because I was putting things in my body that made me feel good instead of dragging me down. But that didn’t mean I was skipping desert if it was offered.
Fast forward to now I feel like eating and weight is something I’m comfortable with but can’t help but feel this pressure that it’s something I should be more concerned with. I have some friends that weigh themselves every day and I have others that weigh all the food they eat. I was never either of those people until I started working with the personal trainer that some of my friends had been going to. He put me on what could only be called a very strict meal plan. Eating every two hours and eating perfectly weighed portions. It wasn’t until I talked to my very wise friend Sarah that I realized I had an issue. “This is a testament to your relationship with food”
It struck a chord with me because 1. Don’t say relationship, I’m afraid of commitment and 2. What had changed about my relationship to food? In the short time I was on this meal plan everything I had known from my first 23 years of life was out the window. I felt guilty about eating a banana with peanut butter and started thinking that if it wasn’t on my meal plan I was better off just not eating. This wasn’t the fault of my trainer but I LOVED food. I loved cooking and experiencing food to the fullest – whether it was healthy or a big greasy burger. At this point I might as well have called my “meals” “fuelings” because that’s what I was doing, simply refilling myself with fuel, not food.
While sitting in crisis mode I canceled further workouts with my trainer and I took to Instagram to poll the audience. When I asked why people felt they didn’t have a healthy relationship with food the answered were pretty consistent:
“Too many carbs, stress eater.”
“Junk food tastes too good”
“I just always reach for unhealthy foods”
“Food tastes too good”
“Because I love food but food doesn’t love me back”
I think an unhealthy relationship with food starts when you begin to feel guilty about eating. To me you can have a healthy relationship with food and still eat junk food, does that make sense? I really only started feeling better and looking better when I found the balance in my eating. I started allowing myself to eat what I wanted. Here are some tips that I found help me normalize my relationship with food:
- If I feel guilty eating it; I don’t buy it.
- If I want to eat it, I will.
- If it makes me feel gross, I avoid it.
- Everything works in moderation.
As with some of the blogs I have been publishing recently I wrote this months and months ago (in-fact I originally credited myself as a 22 year old instead of 23). As of recently I took time to try Whole 30 and reintroduce meat back into my diet. I’m grateful in the fact that neither of these things really affected my outlook on my relationship with food but it did shift my mindset.
First, I began to read labels again and not because I was calorie counting but because I was curious what was in the food I was eating. Sugar and things I can’t pronounce were everywhere! So I found that there were better choices I could be making for what I was putting in my body. Second, I started to be more aware when I was eating, especially indulgences, that I needed to eat without distractions. That meant not driving or watching TV or playing on my phone. I needed to enjoy my meal and really understand what I was consuming!
So I guess the TL;DR of this blog is just to be mindful of what you’re eating. If you want to eat In-N-Out, awesome! Just be ~mindful~ that it maybe shouldn’t be a daily thing. If you want to start eating healthier, awesome! Just make sure it’s a ~mindful~ choice made for your body.
ps. thanks to my roommate for the catchy title!