Last week we chatted about why I don't believe diets are an effective weight loss solution. I left you hanging in the post a bit, so this week I want to explain what I personally think is a more effective solution to healthy eating, and losing weight. I am realizing that I can't cover these topics in a few short blog posts, so expect a series showing up every Monday on the blog about healthy eating for the next few weeks.
Before we get started I want to disclose that I am not a certified nutritionist, dietician, or a doctor. I am not qualified to give medical advice of any kind, and if you are struggling with an eating disorder, excessive dieting, or trying to eat healthy in general, please seek help from a doctor or certified dietician. It is worth it, I promise.
Last week I mentioned that the key to eating healthier starts with discovering your "why". Why do you want to eat healthier? As I mentioned, this answer should go deeper and be more specific than wanting to lose weight. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it for health reasons? To set a good example for your kids? So you have more energy? Take some time to really think about it before coming up with an answer.
Now that you have a motivation for eating healthier, how do you actually go about it? The answer to that question really is as simple as to just eat. Eat without constantly restricting ourselves, without beating ourselves up, and without judging every bite that goes into our mouths. Just eating like a normal, non-crazy, non-food-obsessed person. The problem with the above advice, is that a lot of us don't actually know how to "just eat". We have so many ideas about what we should and shouldn't eat, and we are so accustomed to restricting what we eat and eating according to some sort of diet plan, that we don't know how to eat without all the rules and negative thoughts creeping in. We can't "just eat" in a normal and natural way until we get rid of all the thoughts and beliefs that affect both what and how we eat, every single day.
If you pay attention to everything we hear and see in a day regarding food, it is no wonder why we are confused. We are bombarded with information telling us what we should and shouldn't eat, and it is all so conflicting. Fat is bad, or is it good? Carbohydrates are bad, but wait - they are part of a balanced meal. Fruit is healthy, but it is also loaded with sugar? We constantly see advertisements full of not so healthy food encouraging us to "indulge" and assuring us "we deserve it". Do we need to treat ourselves, or is sugar an addictive, drug-like substance that should be avoided at all costs?
We see ourselves as "bad" for eating certain foods, and "good" for avoiding others. Our culture has turned food into a moral issue. We are letting what we eat dictate our personal self worth. A donut is just a donut. It isn't going to make us "bad". We aren't "bad" for eating one. If you happen to eat a donut, enjoy it. Savour it. Admit that it is delicious. Beating ourselves up for being "bad" isn't going to have any positive results for our healthy eating journey or self esteem. One donut, or even 5 donuts, aren't going to make us unhealthy. Ever notice that when we focus on something being "bad" and telling ourselves we shouldn't do it, we tend to want to do it more. Constantly thinking about all the "bad" food we shouldn't eat, is giving our rebellious nature fuel for the fire.
This week I encourage you to keep that "why" in the back of your mind while you are eating. Think about why you want to eat healthy, but if you eat some things that aren't, give yourself grace and don't beat yourself up or think you are being bad.
An exercise that has really helped me realize my personal thoughts about food is to make a list of all the different foods I think of as "bad", or that I shouldn't eat. Then next to them write how they might actually be good. For example, ice cream is good because it provides a great source of calcium, is a fun food to enjoy with the family, and it tastes delicious, especially on a hot day.
I would love for you to try this activity out. If you do, let me know!
Next week I plan to talk about that little fear many of us have in the back of our minds when it comes to eating. You know the one - if you let yourself "just eat" will you ever stop?
Also, I'm sure you've been wondering how letting yourself eat without rules and restrictions can lead to eating healthier? Yup... we will touch on that one too.
If you are curious and want more information about anything I have discussed, please reach out. You can email me at Angela@Kinsalt.com. Also, I highly recommend reading the book Intuitive Eating, by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole.