Have you ever paused to listen to how you speak to yourself about food? If you have, you know that your inner dialogue may sound like it’s straight out of the movie Mean Girls. The things we say to ourselves can seem downright crazy, and it’s time we turned the conversation around.
As someone who has engaged in every one of the internal conversations below, I can tell you that once you end the negative self-talk, you'll feel free and at peace with food and your body.
If you can change the conversation, you can change your life. Here are five things we say to ourselves about food that need to stop:
1. “If I don’t eat breakfast, I’ll save calories for later in the day.”
The lesson: if you’re choosing to skip a meal on purpose, you should know that deprivation of any kind is a surefire way to sabotage your health.
And, if you’re skipping a meal, chances are your goal isn’t to be healthy — it’s to be thin. So ask yourself this question: what is your real goal? Are you interchanging healthy and skinny? Because here’s a cold hard fact: skinny (or thin) does not equal healthy.
Food is meant to be fun, not feared. As long as you understand your body and know what foods work for you, you can easily eat your way to vibrant health without having to worry about deprivation or calorie counting (because calorie counting is so 90s, right?).
2. “I can’t wait for my cheat day because then I can eat whatever I want.”
The lesson: By choosing to participate in “cheat days,” you’re really just cheating your health.
Whoever decided that cheat days were acceptable for a person striving to be healthy or to lose weight should be banned from giving any advice.
The concept of cheat days plays with our minds and give us an excuse to eat foods we know don’t serve our bodies. The more we engage in the deprivation-reward mindset, the more likely we are to fail in our attempts to eat healthy.
Do yourself a favor and strive for balance instead. It is possible to eat healthy and enjoy your life simultaneously. If you’re eating well 80 percent of the time, that’s a solid victory.
3. “If I run six miles, it won’t matter if I have a burger and a few beers later.”
The lesson: Exercising won’t undo the damage of poor diet choices.
Now, I’m not saying that a burger and fries is a diet killer. I love a good grass-fed burger with sweet potato fries. But telling yourself you have to workout in order to enjoy foods you truly love is not a healthy way to live.
Exercise is meant to make us feel good, physically and mentally. It's not meant to serve as punishment for the self-proclaimed “bad” foods we’re planning on eating (or have already eaten).
If you’re killing yourself at the gym just so you can eat pizza, chances are you’ll start to dread your workouts and find yourself working out less and less.
The key here is to reframe how you think about exercise. When it comes to how you decide to move your body, take food out of the equation and enjoy every minute of whatever heart-pumping activity you choose. Enjoy the foods you love while paying attention to the quality.
4. “Low-fat! This is the healthier choice for sure.”
The lesson: although we’re slowly moving away from the low-fat craze, it still rears its ugly head in savvy marketing campaigns that we need to steer clear of. Why? Our bodies actually need healthy dietary fats in order to properly function.
As a former “if it has fat I won’t eat it” person, you can trust me when I say that eating a diet low in fat will leave you hungry and fatigued to your core. Plus, most manufacturers will swap the fat for added sugars and artificial ingredients.
The source and quality of your fat is what matters most. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, and telling yourself you can’t eat fat will only deteriorate your health further.
5. “I’ve tried every diet. I might as well give up.”
The lesson: the diet mindset doesn’t work, and there’s no such thing as the “perfect” diet.
Instead of jumping on the latest diet bandwagon and giving it a try only to fall off, what if you let go of diets completely?
Here’s the truth: there's no universal diet, and until you’re ready to learn for yourself what foods work for you, you’ll be running in endless circles chasing around diet books to find the answers. The best part? Your body already has the answers. All you have to do is listen.
Interested in switching up your approach to being well? My “Happy, Health, Me” Food Journal is the perfect way to figure out what foods work for your body, and more importantly, which foods don’t. You can download it here.