You may have noticed that food is gaining an ever larger presence on this blog, and that’s completely intentional. I started this blog as a safe space to talk about living a life of balance, and I intend to keep it that way. Sometimes we talk about the fun, low-key stuff around here (see: Friday Favorites), and sometimes we talk about serious topics (examples here and here), but ultimately this blog is about the balance in this crazy thing we call life. And that includes food.
I don’t have it all figured out
…in fact, I doubt I ever will. Growing up, I was a relatively healthy kid. I was even on the Oprah show in elementary school because I would get made fun of due to my healthy, “boring” lunches. And over the years, my relationship with food has dramatically changed.
After going out on my own, I continued to be relatively healthy, compared to most college kids. I’d cook a lot and workout a few times a week, but what I was eating was far from well-balanced. I didn’t gain a ton of weight, but the Freshman 15 and I were good buds. I knew I wasn’t being my healthiest self, but I also knew that I was only going to be in college once and I let it be.
Being a Grown Up
After graduating was where the real cognitive dissonance came in and I went through a whole series of emotions with food. I (thankfully) never went to what would generally be defined as an unhealthy level, but I definitely counted calories, then gave two sh*$s, then went only Paleo, then who knows what else. While all of these can be healthy, I took each and every one to an extreme, seeing swings that would take a toll on my overall mind and body health. It tore my relationship with food to be purely a fuel, rather than something to be enjoyed. Eating each day became a source of stress and eating what was “going to be best for me” became an issue that filled my days with constant angst. Throughout all of these experiences, I always thought I was doing what was best for myself, but something was off in a big way. (Please note, some of these tactics are right for some people, but for me, they are not.)
I am an “abstainer”
Finally, I took some time to think about my relationship with food about a year ago. (Which guided my decisions for my wedding fitness and diet plan.) And I realized that there are people that are moderate people (those that can get out the ice cream container and just have a few spoonfuls) and there are abstainer people (people that eat the whole thing because it’s in front of them.) I’m an abstain person through and through. (A great description of this concept can be found on Julie’s blog, too!) Essentially, on the opposite side of eating ice cream, if I decide to follow a diet, I take it to the extreme – and that’s not a good thing. Diets are not meant for me, because I stress out about them and can hardly live outside of those boundaries. While “healthy is a lifestyle” hits home for a lot of people, for me, feeling like I need to live a “healthy lifestyle” would be a lifestyle with feelings of constant stress and restraint. This is not what I want for myself, nor what I want for you.
My relationship with food today
Now, I’m proud of my relationship with food, because I focus on how it makes me feel. At the end of the day, will I feel like I fed my body with whole, healthy foods? Or will I feel like crap because I fueled my body with crap? It’s my decision and in my best interest to feel good… only I can make those decisions for me. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat pizza or ice cream, or that I sometimes cave to what other people are eating when we go out to lunch. In fact, I’m obsessed with good gelato! But I pay attention to how I’m feeling and I make sure to plate everything to cater to my abstain nature. Like I said, I don’t have it all figured out. But I’m comfortable understanding that “healthy lifestyle” means something different to everyone – including me. I had to find what worked for me – it’s something that I’m still working on and it’s taken me a long time to get here.
“What I Ate Wednesday”
I say this all to lead into my first “What I Ate Wednesday.” I want you to see usual days to understand that not every day needs to be perfect, but you should make your best effort to fuel your body with foods that make you feel good. No need to feel full, either – eat slow and eat to the point that you’re no longer hungry. At least for me, feeling full and not feeling hungry are very different points.
Have faith in yourself, but be intentional with your decisions to live your healthiest life.
The below meals are from yesterday (Tuesday.) It was a busy day, and I was on the road most of the time. For comparison, I usually eat more in the mornings and a smaller lunch if I have everything perfectly aligned.
Chocolate Chip generic Kroger-brand granola bar. I love to start my day with these because they start my metabolism and they have a teeny-tiny bit of sweetness to start the day.
Cup of tea. I usually have this early in the morning and an apple around this time, but I knew I’d be on the road in a few minutes. Cup of tea it was.
I was a bit hungry after not having my mid-morning snack, so an Ester-C was in order to get a couple of calories in my system to tide me over.
Grabbed lunch with Ray at a spot called Mercantile in downtown and ordered the Italian because I hadn’t had any protein today. Ate half and Ray took the other half for lunch tomorrow. (Note: Here I’m thinking about how I’ve had very little veg and no fruit yet today. This will impact my decisions later on in the day.)
Knew we wouldn’t be eating until a couple of hours later and I didn’t want to go into that meal starving (because I tend to over-eat when that’s the case.) Because of that, I went with a handful of chips with hummus to tide me over.
Ray and I focused on having only protein and vegetables for dinner. I ate half of the pork, then switched to the asparagus, and decided I was no longer hungry. (A flash back to the portion control being the most important lesson I’ve learned regarding my relationship with food across the year.)
While we’ve pretty much stopped dessert in our household, I still often have a sweet tooth before bed. Tuesday night’s treat was a fresh peach and fresh whipped cream. So good.
Does all of this food follow somebody’s created version of “what is best for the human body”? Probably not. But at the end of the day, I feel satisfied and proud of the decisions I’ve made. My body is feeling strong and not depleted – even though I did eat less calories than my usual day. I know I could be eating better, but the stress of following something more structured does more harm to my overall system than good.
If you’re going through the same stresses with food that I had and still sometimes have, then I encourage you to try a different approach. As always, I’d be happy to talk further and please leave comments below to share your experiences. None of us are alone, and this community has made me comfortable realizing that we are all in this together.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
How would you define your relationship with food?
Do you think you’re an “abstainer” or “moderator”?
Create a great day!