What Exactly Is "Healthy" Eating, Anyway?

There are so many ways we judge ourselves nowadays, and eating patterns often top the judgement list. "I am so bad for having this..." "I'm being good this week; I'm juicing." "Nobody should have gluten. Period."

Pardon me for asking, but when did food intake become a litmus test for character? Having survived my own toxic, disordered relationship with eating, I'm quite certain there's no judgement coming from food. The opinions that are stirred into our meals are entirely ours.

So, what's a gal to eat?! Although more challenging than buying a book or trend, how about we eat what our body says? Here are three ways to begin listening:

1. Figure out the "hungry."

The first step for me in eating is figuring out if I'm actually hungry. (You might smirk, but this is harder than it sounds!) We often base our desires on external sources, and food is no exception. In my own life, I've cookied away sadness and starved fear and exhaustion onto the bones of my body; I know I'm not alone in this.

Emotional hunger is real and deserves nourishment... just not from a plate. And, because food affects our brain chemistry, we can eat our emotions away without really honoring them. Ask yourself if you're physically hungry or upset that you got in a fight with your partner and wanting to punish yourself? Or if you're overwhelmed by work/friends/to-dos and are seeking an opportunity to numb yourself?

Acknowledging your emotional tenor only takes a moment but can ground you long enough to assess your hunger. Then, notice if you're actually physically hungry.

2. Break your rules and ditch the diet mentality.

There are so many rules and diets and suggestions out there that it's hard to not feel compelled to listen! Honestly, I do that too. But let's reflect: how can a standardized diet be more correct than our own unique intuition? I have a hard time coming up with a compelling argument for that one. Nonetheless, we have a tendency to bully our intuition in the name of so-called scientifically based diets.

Every time we take an outsider's word over our body's voice, we latently tell ourselves that we're not to be trusted. When we don't trust ourselves, we actually can become chemically or psychically dependent on certain food habits. Worse, sometimes this even "works" encouraging further disassociation and mistrust. Until, of course, our bodies throw a (healthy) hissy-fit! Diets beget diets. Period. Nearly 98% of diets "fail." So, again I ask: why would anyone ever go on a diet?

3. Keep your eyes on your plate.

Distraction and comparison are thieves of enjoyment. You actually do have the time to sit down for a sweet meal. This doesn't make you inefficient; it makes you loving. The fact that Billy doesn't take a lunch break does not make him a better employee. Nor is Suzie healthier than you because she had the salad. Meals are thrice-daily acts of self-care, so treat them as such! What if you remembered, you have all the time and permission you need to nourish you?

Bonus: Repeat (for life).

Like yoga, being healthy is a practice!

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