Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I can’t eat that. It’s bad for me.” I think it’s a pretty standard comment stemming for an understandable sentiment. I caught myself saying the same thing last Wednesday when I had to choose between a fried chicken sandwich and a salad. I opted for the salad and when I went home later that night I could barely finish my workout. I realized it was because I didn’t fuel properly so I lacked enough energy to exercise. I also forgot to snack when I was hungry during the day. This upset me for a for a few reasons:
1. I was hungry all day.
2. I couldn’t work out and that is just unacceptable.
3. I try to make a “good” choice because I felt guilty.
4. I was hungry all day (too important to mention only once).
Even though I’m not on a traditional diet, I’m guilty of trying to “eat clean” or be “good” with my food choices. These words weigh heavily on me sometimes when I’m looking at a menu. The guilt is palpable. This is something many of us aren’t aware of: the emotional beating we give ourselves because of our food. It’s so prominent that we end up hating or resenting our food and ourselves no matter what kinds of food we choose (healthy or unhealthy). We can’t even enjoy our food.
So what’s the answer? Practice mindful eating. It doesn’t mean we have to be super conscious of making extremely healthy food choices. It means to be present when we eat. Eat slowly and savor each bite. Be aware of what our food gives us: health, enjoyment, comfort, and energy. Let go of any guilt assigned to food and find that balance of moderation. Often, we eat too fast to even really enjoy and savor our food. Or we dismiss our hunger/satiety cues. When you’re hungry, choose a small healthy snack to tide you over until your next meal; when you’re full at mealtime, stop. It’s all about being mindful and aware.
Going forward, I’m going to let go of the guilt. I’m going to trust that I eat healthfully on a regular basis and that one meal is not going to ruin my overall health. And if I have a donut, then I’m going to have an effing donut. A donut once in a few weeks is not going to hurt me. [If you’re ever in Santa Clara, CA, do yourself a favor and go to Stan’s Donut Shop. They’re known for their freshly made glazed. Literally, they can’t make them fast enough because there’s always a giant line.]