13 Rules I Live By To Maintain A Healthy Relationship With Food

Written by Katie Dalebout

As health and wellness become more prevalent in mainstream society, it's important to remember that a focus on the "health" movement can have its dangers. Yes, food is necessary to live and it should be real and whole, but in the end, it's just food. Here are 13 food and body rules to live by to make sure you approach health and wellness in the "wellthiest" way possible.

1. Labels are for containers, not people.

It's easy to get wrapped up in labels like Paleo, vegan and gluten-free. But if you're denying your body what it actually needs and craves simply to "fit in," you're missing the point. Listening to your body trumps all labels.

2. Your body is not an art project to manipulate by force to look a certain way.

Your body isn't a "project." It's not something that needs fixing. When you're wholly focused on dogmatically following a diet or way of eating, you can't focus on your life. You only have so much mental bandwidth and willpower, and when you use all of it to control your food and body, it doesn't leave much space to accomplish anything else.

3. Stress and deprivation are worse for you than gluten, dairy and sugar combined.

If not eating the cake or cookies is going to stress you out and you feel like you're depriving yourself, just eat it, be present, and enjoy the sensational pleasure of the food. Denying yourself could cause stress and result in a binge later.

4. Pleasure is an important and crucial part of life and true health.

When we deny ourselves pleasure we feel deprived, and deprivation is likely lead to a rebellion. Would you forever deny yourself something that feels good just to look a certain way? Focusing on how you want to feel physically is valid, but get honest with your intentions. Typically, enjoying something decadent in moderation won't drastically alter your health, how you feel physically or how you look.

5. Isolation is sad and lonely and unnecessary.

Food is meant to connect, not divide us. Look at the way you're eating and notice if food is still a source of connection or if it's creating separation in your relationships. While you don't need to eat the same thing as all the people you hang out with, occasionally it's powerful to share a meal, snack or dish and not obsess about the ingredients or calories.

6. "Thinness" isn't a beauty standard.

Since the beginning of human civilization, beauty standards have existed in one capacity or the other. But it's only in the past 100 years that they've included thinness. These "ideals" aren't going anywhere and that's fine — I follow mainstream beauty trends every day and enjoy curling my hair and wearing mascara. But I will never physically harm myself through manipulating my body size in an unhealthy way just to look like a magazine cover.

7. Your life as a whole is beautiful, not just your body.

This includes your spirit, relationships, home and career. When you're hyper focused on your physical body, you're only capable of achieving a fraction of what you're capable of in the other, more important areas of your life. Ask yourself what you want to be remembered for: How 'clean' your diet was? How often you went to yoga class? Or the legacy you left.

8. Obsessing over food, exercise and weight are a waste of time.

When I realized I could write a book, start a business and change the world with the amount of mental bandwidth I was using to shame my body, control my food and make sure I was exercising enough, I knew it was time to make a change.

9. Your worth isn't inherent in your physical appearance.

You're perfect as you are. You don't need to compensate for not feeling "good enough" by being thin enough instead.

10. Authenticity trumps skinny every time.

People don't care how you look or how you eat. They care if you're being real with them.

11. Self-acceptance is better than any diet.

Loving and accepting yourself as you are — even if it's different from how you want to look — is the healthiest thing you can do. Hating your body never made anyone healthier it only results in negative behaviors.

12. It's liberating to be your true self.

You don't need to validate your worth and find community through your body, weight and appearance. When you're authentic and vulnerable, the people who are meant to be in your life will be, and those who aren't will fall away naturally.

13. You are human and your body will change.

Fear of getting fat or of your body changing is silly and out of your control. It will change constantly throughout your life, and loving it at every stage makes for a happier life than constantly fearing what's inevitable.

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