There are thousands of articles and tips out there on nutrition, superfoods, weight loss, and health. And if you’re anything like me, you’re easily confused by all of the differing advice and contradictory information.
Sifting through all of the info is a daunting task when we’re constantly inundated with conflicting opinions and research.
When I was in the throes of disordered eating, I would get sucked into a new plan every week, convinced that this one was THE solution that would fix my weight issue.
Whether it was fasting on lemon water two days a week, juicing with green smoothies, following the low-carb craze, or adhering to the “no food after 7 p.m.” rule (because it promised weight loss), I was steadfast in my commitment to follow the latest and greatest nutritional claims.
Except there was one huge problem: Nothing ever worked.
Yes, I would diligently follow something for a few days, weeks, or months, but I couldn’t sustain anything long term. I ended up in a drastic diet/binge cycle that I couldn’t seem to break free from.
I realized after following hundreds of different diets and food rules, I was lost. I had no idea what to eat or how to listen to my body. After I swore off diets forever, I promised myself I would learn how to have a healthy relationship with food.
As I began to slow down, tune into my body’s wisdom, and listen to my intuitive hunger signals, I had a startling realization.
It wasn’t what I was eating that was the problem. It was how I was eating it.
It didn’t matter that I was eating green smoothies for breakfast; kale, spinach, and grilled chicken salads for lunch; and baked fish with broccoli for dinner. Even though my meals were the picture of perfect health (well, at least on Monday, when I had “started over”), I rarely liked what I was eating.
And this is the biggest mistake most people make around food.
- Are you enjoying your food?
- Have you slowed down enough to savor each bite?
- Do you find pleasure in what you’re eating?
- Are you paying attention to the textures and tastes of your meal?
How you eat your food affects your body in so many different ways.
You can eat kale salads, grilled chicken, and kefir smoothies all day long, but if you absolutely despise what you’re eating, it won’t be sustainable long term.
Yes, it’s good to eat whole, natural foods, but when you’re caught in the seemingly endless diet cycle and always starting over on Monday, another green smoothie with chia seeds isn’t going to be the answer to your problem.
The answer lies in addressing the “how” behind your eating. Are you just blindly following someone else’s food rules? Are you paying attention to what works for your body? Are you slowing down enough to know how each meal affects your body?
You see, if you absolutely hate what you’re eating, if you’re rigidly adhering to the healthiest diet on earth and cutting out every processed food under the sun, it doesn’t matter how nutritious your meals are—it won't be sustainable and you'll end up overeating. It sets you up for failure.
If you’re pressuring yourself to eat perfectly, feeling soul-crushing guilt when you eat dessert, and thinking about what you really want to be eating all day (instead of the apple and salad you packed for lunch), then it won’t matter how many carrots and kale smoothies you eat. You are going to be miserable.
You must have satisfaction in your diet if there’s any hope for it to be sustainable long term. Slowing down, enjoying your food, and finding pleasure in each meal are crucial for long-term success in any way of eating.
So the next time you’re tempted to change what you’re eating, look instead at how you’re eating it.
- Paying attention to the food in front of you
- Using your intuition to guide your food choices
- Slowing down
- Taking some deep breaths before you eat to tune in to how you’re feeling
That tasting, savoring, and enjoying will naturally lead to making food choices that will nurture and nourish your body.