Got you with a picture of me eating a donut didn’t I?
It’s only been just recently that I can snack on something like that and feel totally happy. Complete bliss. I mean, it’s junk food right? The chocolate, the dough, the CARBS, they’re going to make me fat, right? I have to immediately go to the gym and run this all off right?
Wrong. All these are ideas that you may have an unhealthy relationship with food in the same way that I once had a terrible relationship with it as well.
Don’t worry you aren’t alone if you’ve had any of these thoughts when going about your daily life. We’ve been conditioned this way throughout our lives to see nutrition in black and white terms and forgot that there’s actually this fantastic shade of grey that’s perfectly fine as well.
What I mean by this is that we’ve been led to believe things like eating are very simple. Eat bad/junk food (chocolate, ice cream, hamburgers), we get fat. Eat good food (chicken breasts, steak, broccoli, salads) we get skinny, healthy, fit, whatever you want.
Turns out that’s only kind of true. In fact, we’ve proven you can ‘lose weight’ eating something as ‘bad’ as twinkies for every meal.
Now I didn’t post this picture to talk about the fact that I eat donuts 365 days a week at each meal. I don’t because that’s a bad idea for me and for you. Instead I posted to take the opportunity to talk about the importance (yes you read that right) of enjoying a donut, beer, piece of cake, or ice cream cone from time to time.
The first thing I talk to about clients who approach me to talk about nutrition is what your non-negotiables are. For some people, it’s going out for date night with their partner once a week, not tracking anything and eating what they want. For me, it’s one pint of ice cream a week that I don’t worry about. For you, it’s the answer to, what’s one thing you need in your diet that would cause you anxiety if we took it away?
The obvious reason for this is balance. If I told someone who enjoys a glass of wine with their husband every Friday night that they couldn’t have it, what do you think their response would be? If they even wanted to continue working with me, I’m sure it wouldn’t be, ‘hell ya I’m in man.’
Instead, it’s building around that idea and finding a way to bring it into your weekly diet. Same for the mom or dad who wants to take their kids out for ice cream after a soccer game in the hot sun. Who am I to take away that bonding moment from you and your family?
For some of you, this dip into the tainted waters of eating might mean, “okay, today’s diet is already gone, let’s go off the deep end here.’ Don’t worry, I’ve been there before too. If it’s just one spoon of ice cream, let’s have it all right?
This is yet another sign of an unhealthy relationship with food. If you can’t stop at the feeling of full, there’s something wrong there that we have to work out.
What is healthy is finding a way to incorporate that more regularly into your daily lifestyle. Instead of eliminating sugar completely from your diet until you reach the x number on the scale, and then binging on it, why not manage it so we can create a lifestyle change for the future.
In concrete terms, why not have a donut a week for life rather than riding the roller coaster of punishing yourself for ‘eating bad’ then eating ‘good’ for the rest of your life?
At the end of the day, food is food and calories are calories. You don’t deserve a donut any more than you deserve to eat kale and suffer through a salad. Eliminate that word from your fitness and nutritional vocabulary right now. Any label you attach to the food casts judgement on not only the calories on your fork entering your mouth but also who you are and become when you swallow that food.
Food is meant to be gasoline for the engine of our daily lives but it’s also meant to be enjoyable too. It’s supposed to make you smile. It’s supposed to make you laugh with friends. A nicely grilled steak with steamed broccoli can whet the appetite and make you smile over a dinner with family and friends.
But so can the pie for dessert.
A former journalist and sports blogger, I've turned my writing prowess and love of fitness and nutrition into a personal blog where you can find anything you are looking for on the world of health, nutrition and fitness.