“Do you EVER eat anything bad?” This was a question I got about a week ago from a friend. And mind you, this is one of many times that I’ve gotten this question. I also get “Oh, you can’t have that…” or “You’re not allowed to eat this….” just as much as the question above.
This blog post is about how I respond to these questions and how I let them roll off my back AND how I found my own personal freedom with food.
First things first!
Do I ever eat anything bad? Well, short answer is ‘no’. But then again, ‘yes’. What is bad? I mean, my bad might be different than your bad. Here’s MY personal take on what I think my bad foods are. I don’t eat certain foods because they don’t make me feel good. I like feeling good so I steer clear of all the foods that make me feel icky. That said, I don’t ever tell myself that I can’t have these foods because it’s a choice not to have them, not an allergy or health related reason. This doesn’t make me better than someone who likes to indulge in pizza from time to time, this is just how I know I function best and how my body responds to certain foods. So if the question was more specific, “Do you ever eat pizza?” No, not a traditional pizza BUT I will get a gluten free, minus the cheese from time to time. All that said, I just try and make the best choices possible with minimal indulgences that will make me feel badly.
We are supposed to consume food ….not let food consume us!
“Oh, you can’t have that….” or “You’re not allowed…” Well, you see – I set myself up for those comments. I do tend to ask what the ingredients are in foods or let people know that I’ll be bringing along my own meal or what have you. With that, there are assumptions so I just roll with it. I do say something like, “Oh, I can definitely have that if I wanted to but I don’t care to.” Or “Yes, I’m allowed. I’m a big girl now – haha but I choose not to because some of the ingredients in that don’t sit right with me.” We can go on with further conversations if they choose to and sometimes we get into my eating habits with a little more detail but more often than not, it’s just left there. I just say that you keep doing what you’re doing and if anyone seems to have an issue with it, it’s really their problem. Again, a lot of the time it’s just not understanding the approach you’re taking on your way of fueling your body so again, that’s on them. Don’t let it frustrate you or bring you down.
Just Do YOU!
NOW –> recognizing food freedom! This is how it looks for me and it surely is going to look different for everyone of us! I realized a few years back that I didn’t use food as a reward, a punishment or a way to make me drown my sorrows. I used food to fuel my body and that was how I looked at it …..and THAT IS when I realized I had food freedom. For many, many years I used food as a tool. It was what I controlled to make me skinny, happy, sad, sick, a punishment …oh, I think the list can go on but I think you get the point. I wasn’t at a place where food was my friend. It was a total crutch and I made sure to use it as such! When I think about the countless hours I spent listing what I ate day in and day out, counting calories and either binging or purging to make up for how I felt about what I jotted down on paper — ugh, I just cringe! But all that said, it truly makes me appreciate what I have today and the relationship I have with the food that fuels my body to keep going. I appreciate food and what it is really meant for our bodies — nourishment and fuel. With that, I no longer see it as something that should be controlled. I eat intuitively and mindfully. I listen to my body (I mean, really listen!) and go with it. It was then that my body responded in a positive manner and from then on, there was no more yo-yo dieting, no scale and/or sizes going up and down. This truly is when I realized MY food freedom.
Is a Whole30 right for everyone?
I personally have never done a Whole30 and it’s been said that I tend to eat very much Whole30ish so why hadn’t I ever done one? Well, I personally get weirded out when I’m told I can’t have something. Granted, maybe I won’t ever have it or maybe I make the decision not to eat dark chocolate for a short period of time but putting myself on a “plan” so to speak doesn’t sit right with me. I controlled food for too long at one point and I just don’t think it’s a healthy way to go about how we fuel ourselves. I know it’s done great things for soooo many so please understand, this is MY story and the way I have now found freedom with food. I also see way too often from people doing a Whole30 say, “When I get off this Whole30, I’m going to go have some cocktails and a big ol’ dessert” or “I can’t wait to be done with this Whole30 so can go eat all the chips and salsa” etc and so on. For me (personally), I just choose to eat well pretty much on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, so there’s no need to feel like I have to go on a crazy rampage after this certain period of time of eating is done. Again, my take. And I do know that not everyone goes cray after a Whole30! I think it’s a great program for those who need that period of time to dial in and if it works for you, that’s awesome. I just wish it would flow into a healthier lifestyle vs. thinking of it as a “diet” for 30 days and looking forward to day 31 so they can indulge in all the foods that otherwise may have not felt so compelled to have, had they not forbid it for 30 days.
As I said, eating intuitively is more my style. And that really is where the freedom comes in to play. Eating to fuel your body and listening to when it’s hungry or needing something is key. It does take time to realize what you’re body is saying to you but once you rid yourself of the stuff that makes you feel badly, you suddenly get a burst of clarity! Maybe it’s because there’s no more brain fog ….I don’t know but I do know that food became my friend, once I started treating it as such. I didn’t use it as a tool to make me happy or skinny – it was simply a way to fuel my body and make sure that I had energy throughout my day, with all the right vitamins and minerals to keep me going but knowing when I need rest and sleep. I have the greatest energy throughout my day as well as a solid nights sleep! I don’t worry about calories, fat or any kind of macros. I simply eat real food. I eat it when I want it and don’t worry about the hour of the day. If I’m hungry at 6am, I eat. If I’m full after a few bites into a meal, I stop eating. I don’t tell myself I can’t have something BUT I do know what foods don’t sit right so I do steer clear of them. I’m not perfect and do grab that frozen yogurt with the family from time to time ….and my tummy gets a little gurgly but you know what? I’m ok with that and I have to just go with it since I made the decision to eat it. I don’t look at it like it’s “cheating” or eating a “bad food”, I just think it’s a decision I made at the time and I end up with the consequences of not feeling my best. And though I truly try and stay away from what makes me feel badly, I’m ok with my decisions and that my friends, is what I consider food freedom.
Food freedom is knowing what works for YOU. It make look totally different than what I have just explained here.
If you’re struggling to find freedom from food as you use it like I once did, a tool …..then perhaps make simple strides to add in one healthier food per day. So maybe you just add some greens to a breakfast or another veggie at lunch or perhaps it could even be replacing an unhealthy snack to a healthier choice. I think making this addition will be huge in continuing on with other additions and then hopefully, taking out some of the foods that aren’t making you feel the best you can be! Week 2, add in another healthy piece — whether it be another healthy food item or starting to move your body. Or perhaps it could even be some meditation. Adding in bone broth and/or fermented foods will help a lot with promoting a healthy gut! Maybe week 3, you start cutting out a food you know isn’t doing your body any good — whether it be a food, a drink or something you’re adding to your meals or drinks. And finally by week 4, with the addition of a few healthier foods into your system and cutting out a few of the foods that aren’t doing your system any favors, you’ll be feeling a little better & maybe ready to tackle on a few more changes.
This isn’t a recipe for everyone, nor will be be the “cure all” but my hope is that you will start to see food as what it was intended for our bodies – fuel. Don’t get me wrong ….we ALL love to be social with food and that’s great! I don’t ever want you to think that we can’t enjoy food when out with friends or social gatherings. I am merely pointing out that it is a shame that food has taken on such control in our lives when it comes to how it makes us feel. The few steps that I have stated above about slowly adding in more healthful foods is with hopes to get your bodies feeling good and being able to making healthier decisions. Once we lift the toxicity out of our systems, we can see clearer and make decisions on what is right for ourselves. These baby steps will allow us to continue on with the process and then hopefully, taking bigger strides. This will take time depending on you and what works for you. As I said in the beginning, food freedom looks different for everyone BUT I do know the common factor is that we all want to feel good …..we all want what’s best for ourselves so making a choice to move in that direction is dependent on you. I can talk all day (trust me, I can!) but it’s truly up to you to walk the walk. All that said, we need to recognize that we are not perfect and though we strive to make those baby steps into healthier choices and being free with food, we may stumble and that’s OK! Forgive yourself and move on. Holding on to the guilt is just as unhealthy as the bad food choice and that does your body no favors what-so-ever. So let it go and move on.
Food freedom to me is, being able to see food for what it really is. Enjoying food and all that it has to offer …..no matter what time of the day! It’s not tracking or calculating. It’s eating intuitively and listening to what my body is really asking for. It’s also being able to make decisions that maybe aren’t the best BUT being ok with it! And not beating myself up for days on end because I didn’t make the best choice possible. I choose to eat real food and that’s why there are no limits or plans. Eating Food With A Purpose is the most freeing relationship I have ever had with food. What does your food freedom look like? Do you feel like you have freedom? I would love to hear your thoughts. I think we could all use support – whether it be how you got your freedom or what your struggles are. Chime in on the comments section. Let’s chat!