We’ve created a strange and troubling approach to food within our society. Foods that nourish our bodies and minds are considered “good” and “healthy,” and yet they come with a negative connotation. Because healthy food can’t taste delicious, right? Then there’s the flip side: foods that taste decadent must to be filled with “unhealthy” ingredients and are considered “bad.” This way of thinking, completely engrained in our minds at an early age, leads us to make terrible and oftentimes life-threatening choices about food.
As women, we’re especially susceptible to this way of thinking about food. We’re bombarded with images from movies and television shows of women cheating on their diets and gorging on their cheat days, stuffing their faces with brownies to make themselves feel better. All that does for us is show us that while it’s obviously not the right way to eat, it’s what’s expected. We’re taught to order the salad on a first date so we look dainty, cute, and coy. Meanwhile all we really want is that plate of French fries covered in cheese. And we get those French fries; after the date, when we’re home in our pajamas, hiding our bad food from the world.
But what if “bad” foods and “good” foods didn’t exist? What if we could approach a kale salad and a plate of doughnuts with the same emotions and mindset? What if we had the ability to listen, really listen, to our body’s hunger and satiety cues and then be brave enough to honor what we’re hearing?
1. Ditch the Diet Mentality
Toss any diet books still hanging around your kitchen. Lose the scale (seriously). Stop counting calories, macros, what-have-you. Take a week and eat whatever you want with one caveat: Listen to your body. Before you order something, grab food from the fridge, or sit down for a meal, think about how this food will make your body feel in 30 minutes. Think about how your body will be nourished (or not) based on what you’re about to consume. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. No matter what. This doesn’t mean gorge on mac and cheese and ice cream all week. This means choose foods you know will make you feel good while not beating yourself up over the muffin you ate for breakfast
2. Respect Your Body
Respect: honor, regard, admiration, reverence, esteem, politeness, curtesy, civility, deference, dignity.
When was the last time you used any of these words to describe your body? The first step to thinking about your body in these terms is to accept the body that nature gave you. Your body is destined to maintain its genetic blueprint. A person with a size 8 shoe wouldn’t expect to squeeze in to a size 5; it’s equally as futile to have the same expectation with body size. Once you accept the genetic blueprint nature gave you, that one beautiful vessel for your soul and your mind, you’ll be able to truly see change. Surrender to the body you were meant to have. Treat it with love, respect, and gratitude. Then allow yourself to focus on life goals that are truly attainable.
3. Honor Your Health
Make food choices that make you feel well. You don’t need a perfect diet to be healthy. Progress, not perfection, is what counts. A healthy eater has both a healthy balance of foods within their diet and also a healthy relationship with those foods. Your food choices are completely separate from who you are as a woman.
A few quick nutrition tips:
– Variety is the spice of life: Eat fruits and veggies in varying colors!
– Focus on nutrient dense foods: nuts & seeds, beans, avocados, kale, blueberries, egg yolks.
– Limit added sugars: This includes sugar substitutes. LIMIT – don’t deprive.
– Eat healthy *for the most part.* Focus on what you can do, and give yourself grace if you choose something that isn’t the healthiest. THAT’S where the real change comes from.
It takes a lot of work and dedication to change our mindsets when it comes to food. When nearly everything we’ve been taught about food is in direct conflict with what our body deserves, it’s so difficult to break free. But with a little time, focus, and determination, we can repair our relationships with food to create a healthier, happier life.