Food. The word in itself can cause stress, anxiety, depression, happiness, excitement, joy and more. The range of feelings that come simply from the idea of food can be overwhelming but why? Why is it that food causes so many emotions? Why would food cause someone to be anxious or uptight, stressed or angry? Well, I guess if trying to eat the right foods, healthy and priced affordably, as well as try to consume the foods that you love but not feel like it made you gain 7 pounds, if you are going to count calories or macros, intermittent fast, try the Keto diet because apparently it SHEDS the pounds, take into consideration how many extra calories you should consume if you’re breastfeeding, weigh and measure your foods, I mean you get it. I guess if that stresses you out…then it makes sense.
Over the last 6 years of trying to find “the right eating habits” I’ve tried to find a middle ground that worked for me. In that process I discovered that really what it all came down to was fulfillment. What made me feel fulfilled? I found that I always ended up in 1 of 4 different lifestyles.
1. I am counting calories and macros. I am weighing my foods and keying them into a tracking app that tells me if I’m on track or not. My body is in it’s best condition and I’m proud of it. I FEEL FULFILLED IN THIS PROCESS.
2. I am counting calories and macro’s. I am weighing my foods and keying them into a tracking app that tells me if I’m on track or not. My body is in it’s best condition and I’m proud of it. I DO NOT FEEL FULFILLED IN THIS PROCESS.
3. I am not counting calories or macros. I am instead intuitively eating. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t when I’m not. I take time to enjoy the foods that I love including sugary sweets and greasy foods. My body could be better, but I am proud of it. I FEEL FULFILLED IN THIS PROCESS.
4. I am not counting calories or macros. I am instead intuitively eating. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t when I’m not. I take time to enjoy the foods that I love including sugary sweets and greasy foods. My body could be better, I am NOT proud of it, I DO NOT FEEL FULFILLED IN THIS PROCESS.
There was a time that counting macros, weighing and measuring my food, working hard in the gym, skipping out on foods that would be counter intuitive to my goals and having my body be in it’s absolute best condition made me happy and gave me joy and fulfillment. I looked forward to finding combinations of food that would fit into my macros. I went to bed at night feeling as though I had been my best self and I was proud. Eventually there came a time where it was no longer fulfilling but I continued doing it because I felt that I needed to. I wanted cookies and cake. I wanted pizza and burgers. I wanted candy and fries but my app said that I couldn’t and I obeyed. I was going to bed unhappy and feeling as though I could have done more to bring joy into my life and one day it clicked, I didn’t HAVE to do this anymore.
I started eating the foods that I wanted in moderation. I ate more than a tablespoon of peanut butter with my apples which has like a million calories and I was fine with it. I took in foods that made me feel fulfilled and happy. I exercised and worked hard in the gym, my body was carrying a little bit more weight than it had in the past but I went to bed feeling like my best self and I was proud. Eventually the time would come that I would welcome the challenge of shedding the extra weight and would start to count again and so the cycle would continue.
It’s taken me years to learn that food shouldn’t be a reward or a punishment. I shouldn’t eat cookies because I’ve had a bad day and deserve them. I shouldn’t dive into a tub of ice cream because I’m going to the gym tomorrow and will burn it off. I don’t workout so that I can eat. I don’t eat with the intention of burning the calories later. I eat, I enjoy. I workout. They are separate and should stay that way. Certainly you are going to have goals and you SHOULD! Whether it’s wanting to lose weight, have a six pack, bigger biceps, grow that booty, lift heavier, run faster, no matter the goal, it’s going to come with sacrifice. Even during my times of intuitive eating there were nights that I wanted pizza but instead had chicken, rice and veggies because I was working towards losing weight and that was the right thing to do.
So what is your relationship with food like right now? Are you in category 1, 2, 3 or 4 or are you somewhere else? Are you feeling fulfilled in your relationship with what you choose to fuel your body with? Are you finding joy in your daily eating habits? If you are in category 2 or 4 what can you do to improve your situation? What can you change to make your relationship with food help you find fulfillment and move you into a category 1 or 3? Are you currently making food your enemy when it should be your partner in nourishing your body and supporting it through everything that is required of it? Does food stress you out and make you feel guilty after you eat?
The truth is that growing up in a world with so many different ideas of what is “right” is hard. Is it right to want to lose weight and maintain a stricter lifestyle with foods? Is it right to love your curves and enjoy the foods that you love even though they may not be considered the “right” foods? The answer is that there is no right answer. Some people feel fulfilled in their curves and other don’t. Some people feel fulfilled sweating bullets in the gym and others would rather not. Both are okay as long as you are healthy and finding fulfillment in your lifestyle.
Years ago a friend said “I don’t know how you can eat 4 pieces of pizza and not feel bad.” My answer? I don’t know how you can’t. Ultimately it comes down to mental health and how I feel about my choices. If it’s going to stress me out and is working in contrast to my goals to eat 4 pieces of pizza then I shouldn’t. However, if the phase of life I am in is that I am enjoying the extra pounds as well as the pizza and it brings me joy, then I most certainly should eat it.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure that you are on the right track. Am I feeling fulfilled at the end of the day in relation to my food intake and my body? Am I creating habits that are unhealthy only because they are forced and not actually making me happy or in line with what brings me joy? Am I making the sacrifices that are necessary to reach my goals as well as finding a balance in the process that allows me to be proud of my progress without resenting what it takes to get there? Am I setting sustainable goals that are keeping me on track as well as offering me fulfillment?
Your body is more than what you eat. Your goals and what offers you joy is not going to be the same as someone else. The way that you feel fulfillment in relation to food and your body is going to go through changes over the years and you should welcome each phase with open arms and acceptance. Your body will continue to offer you it’s best when you offer it yours regardless of what that may have been yesterday verses what it is today.