Food Is Not The Enemy: Changing Unhealthy Thoughts About Food
Written By: Health Coach Tiffiney
It seems inevitable that when the topic of “getting healthy” comes up, the first concern is food. Whether it’s the notion that some foods are better than others, or that you can’t enjoy “regular” foods and still be healthy, or that a particular food has magical-like powers over you and can’t possibly be given up… food takes the bad rap of being the obstacle standing in the way of obtaining the holy grail of “good health”. What if I told you the true obstacle was the power you give food over you? I’m here to tell you it only has as much power as you give it.
We’ve all had that moment when we’re watching Netflix and snack more than we intend to or find ourselves at a gathering and avoid the dessert table like the plague because we’re “eating right”. My prior self would make comments like “I got to run this off tomorrow” or “girl, I can’t eat that, I’m being good”. This thought process ruined my confidence in my ability to make good decisions for myself because I like to eat ya’ll. I felt bad for eating some of my favorite foods, bargained with myself that I could eat whatever it was if I worked it off, and even gave off an air of superiority because I didn’t eat “those foods” that other people were eating while out [insert me looking down over my glasses at someone who would dare touch a donut… I was a mess lol].
Thank God I came to my senses! I gave up all the crazy food rules and decided I could in fact eat food for nourishment and pleasure, that a particular food doesn’t make me any better (or worse) morally, and that what I eat one day will not catapult me off into the stratosphere of forever being unhealthy.
Sis, I’m here to tell you food is only the enemy if you make it. Let me share with you how to begin eating in a way that honors your body and your cravings… the two really can co-exist!
Let’s start with you learning to tune into your body and respect the cues it gives you when you’re hungry, satisfied, or have a need that is not related to food at all. Allow your body to sense when it's hungry, remove mealtime distractions so you can solely focus on your meal [don't multitask while eating], and stop eating and remove yourself from the table once you are satisfied (it's okay to have food left over, just save it for another time). This habit teaches you to respect your body's signals for hunger and satiety. Respecting these signals decreases the likelihood of overeating (or in the case of ignoring hunger cues, talking yourself out of eating because you can't possibly be hungry, which can lead to binging once you finally do eat).
Secondly, while I’ll stand behind my belief that there are no good or bad foods, you should determine what foods make you feel the way you desire to feel (or not feel). I don't know about you, but a regular diet of cakes, cookies, chips, fried foods (insert your fave here) doesn't leave me feeling too hot. Just like only eating kale, baked fish, and quinoa would be boring to me and I’d probably feel deprived by giving up my favorite foods. Learn to respect your cravings (so have the cake, chips, or ice cream) AND also respect when your body tells you it's had enough. If you find yourself binge eating foods then feeling bad after, it could be a sign of emotional eating and you definitely want to seek professional help.
Another thing to consider is that while you can use food to deal with your emotions, it’s a temporary fix that will typically leave you feeling worse in the long run. I challenge you to gauge whether you are eating when your body is sending you hunger cues or out of boredom, anger, sadness, etc. Not hungry? Probably shouldn't be eating. Begin practicing other habits for dealing with these emotions. You can use it as an opportunity to get physically active to blow off some steam, journal, seek counseling, or work on a project you've been putting off (it may take some practice if food has been your go-to for a while). In the long run, finding more effective ways to cope with your emotions aids in healing your relationship with food... so you can actually enjoy it without guilt, confusion, or anxiety.
I would bet money that learning to eat in this way (versus dieting) will leave you feeling more in control and less at odds with food. I want to leave you with this scripture that guides a lot of my decisions, but especially what I decide to eat most days. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says “Everything is permissible, but not all things are beneficial”. If you have specific health goals, let this scripture guide you in deciding if what you’re eating aligns with you meeting that goal. Now go eat… but only if you’re hungry ;)
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