Last week I told you how much I HATE food rules and gave you a few tips on how you can free yourself from the avalanche of 'eat this/don't eat that' lists on the internet. This week is all about MY personal food rules and how I've found FREEDOM, health, and happiness. The information I’m about to share with you has been in the making for YEARS.
First, a few disclaimers:
- This is NOT intended to be a how-to guide for you. The things I mention here may or may not work for you. My intent is to show you how I’ve been able to FREE myself from patterns of restrictive eating and distorted thinking about food.
- I have never had an official eating disorder, but I have had several periods of disordered eating. This is not meant to be a solution for those with eating disorders. If you believe you have or have had an eating disorder, I recommend that you seek professional help.
- You are NOT wrong if you do things differently. Eating is not one-size-fits-all. It’s best if you find out what works for YOU and do that…always.
I'm a woman with a 25-year history of dieting, restrictive eating, and being dissatisfied with my body more times than not. I’ve spent years constantly trying to fix myself, frequently waiting until I lost enough weight to be acceptable, beautiful, and happy.
I’ve always known, deep down, that this wasn’t the way I was supposed to be living life, but I wasn’t sure how to do something to get out of this cycle.
It took a while, but I finally realized that changing the way you eat for the better isn't just about choosing different food...it's about shifting your mindset.
And I've done a lot of mindset shifting over the last few years.
So, here they are…my personal food rules (NOT set in stone and subject to change whenever I feel like it):
- I eat according to how I want to feel everyday. If food doesn’t give me energy or pleasure, I don’t eat it.
- I don’t think of food as good or bad. It fuels me, nourishes me, and brings me pleasure. It’s an essential part of living a healthy, happy life.
- I listen to my body. Sometimes my mind, mouth, and stomach all want the same things....sometimes they don't agree and I'm ok with that.
- I do NOT track calories, points, or carbs, because I don’t like mixing math and food. I trust that my body will tell me what it wants and needs…and I LISTEN to it.
- I eat 4 or 5 times day...not because of what I think it will do for my metabolism, but because eating is one of my favorite things to do, so why not do it all day long?
- I love vegetables and I have them at almost every meal (including breakfast). It feels weird to not have something green on my plate, not because I think I should, but because I love the way veggies taste and how they make me feel.
- I eat carbs after dark…because, why not?
- I eat sugar…not a lot, and definitely not as much as I used to eat when I was dieting and restricting certain foods.
- I have found ways other than food to deal with stress, sadness, disappointment, and fear. Years of experience has taught me that using food as a way to cope will leave me feeling WORSE (physically and emotionally) than when I started out. Walking in nature, talking to a friend, meditating, or exercising are all things I’ve invited into my life when things get out of control. Even still, there are times when a big burger and glass of wine or a piece of cake can make it all better.
- I don't have cheat days or cheat meals. Everything I eat is a treat, because who wants to wait until the weekend to finally have good food???
- I give myself permission to have anything I want, any time. Once I decided that I could have cake, cookies, or pizza whenever I want to, they lost their special powers and weren’t as desirable as they once were.
- I trust myself to make decisions for myself. It's up to ME... not the food, not someone else telling me what to do. Food has no power over me anymore...I'm running the show.
- I love to dine out with friends and family…freely and without restrictions.
- I let go of other people's food rules. The freedom in letting go of what you should or shouldn’t be eating is UNBELIEVABLE.
- I don’t tolerate other people making negative comments about what I’m eating or not eating. The people in my life KNOW BETTER than to say anything about what goes in my mouth. Most of them are smart enough to not put themselves on the receiving end of the words that would come out of my mouth if they crossed that line.
- I don’t make negative or judgmental comments about what other people are eating. I keep my eyes on my own plate.
- I have given myself permission to eat anything I want, whenever I want…without guilt or shame.
- I finally eat like I love myself…because now I do.
It's taken a lot of practice, awareness, and observation (NOT obsession) to come to these conclusions. My relationship with food is still a work in progress. I don’t ever expect it to be perfect because perfection is not my goal…freedom, happiness, and pleasure are.
This new way of thinking has given me the FREEDOM to live life the way I want to and I no longer feel like I'm hitting the RESET BUTTON every Monday morning.
Do you have a personal food philosophy? If so, share it in the comments below. If not, experiment and observe to come up with one for yourself. You can always schedule a time for us to talk to see how I can help you with yours.