How Do You Define Healthy Eating?
This is currently one of my fav breakfasts. Some cheese, apple slices, blueberries, and grapes.
It's delicious, takes zero effort to prepare, I love being able to pick at it with one hand while getting some work done with the other and I feel terrific when I'm done eating. Happy, satisfied, energetic, capable, trustworthy... awesome. And I don’t even think about food again until my belly tells me it’s getting hungry again.
It really doesn’t get any better than that.
But according to "healthy eating rules", I really "shouldn't" be eating this, should I?
Let's assess just some of what "they" say:
Fruit: Omg, that’s too much because it’s too much sugar. You can’t do that, sugar causes cravings and crashes, weight gain, and inflammation, and all manner of other horrific outcomes. Don't you dare enjoy so much of it, especially for breakfast.
Cheese: Omg, dairy… you can’t have that because of inflammation, and there’s not enough protein (and a dozen other ridiculous justifications for oppressive food rules).
Cheese and fruit together: Omg, you can’t do that because you can’t eat fat and sugar together because it instantly makes you gain weight.
Now, to all that ridiculousness, I say.. “screw you. I’m an intelligent, capable adult perfectly capable of being trusted to eat what I want.”
(and so are you, by the way)
But, once upon a time, I would have heard those incessant reminders in my head a thousand times a day… and there were reminders like that for damn near every single food in my entire house.
When I was still planted firmly within diet and healthy eating culture, I may have felt like having this for breakfast but I never would have allowed it.
Instead, I would have had what I thought I “should” based on other people’s “healthy” rules.
I would have felt deprived. Oppressed. Distrusting myself. Annoyed. Resentful.
And would have been thinking about food the whole rest of the day… until I finally caved and ate all the other things that make me feel terrible the whole rest of the day.
Yanno, because I was “bad” after caving anyway so I may as well all the things I can’t have when I start being good again.
I’d desperately try to “be good” and follow the rules… over and over and over again. I’d shut out, ignore and resist what I wanted in lieu of trying to follow the rules.
Because I didn’t think I could be trusted to decide what I wanted. I can’t do that. I want to be healthy so I have to keep trying to control myself, I thought.
Left to my own devices, I’d just sit around bingeing on ice cream and donuts all day, I thought.
MUST. CONTROL. EVERYTHING.
Except that when we’re trying to control our food intake, food is actually the one in control.
And the harder we try to control it, the more out of control we tend to feel.
The rebounds of caving, overeating, and bingeing that I was doing after following the rules for awhile… none of that was because I genuinely wanted to be eating in those ways.
They were the result of my attempts to control, follow the rules and “be good with food”.
Talk about an exhausting (and soul-crushing) way to live.
And a completely unnecessary way to live because our bodies are sooo friggen smart.
They KNOW what helps them feel their best, they KNOW how to communicate that information to us AND, they are more invested in our health and well-being than anyone else on the entire planet.
The act of trying to control and “follow the rules” was one of the things that drove my “bad” eating habits.
I never wanted to binge on ice cream and donuts all day... my conditioning (created in large part by all the "healthy" rules) was driving those behaviors.
When I learned to understand the conditioning behind those behaviors (+ how other people’s supposedly “healthy” eating advice created many of them) and I started working on changing my conditioning (and tuning out other people's advice so I could tune into myself)… low and behold, I (and my body) could be trusted after all.
What and how I ate, naturally shifted all on its own in the most beautiful ways.
Even many other practices that supposedly help create “food freedom” still typically promote the “healthy vs unhealthy” rules around what we should eat. That’s no different than “good vs bad”. Creating a binary approach to food results in the same outcome.
Rules and restrictions keep us disconnected from what our bodies need and want.
And it's so ridiculous because:
- Nutrition scientists, dieticians, nutritionists.. none of them can even agree anyway. They're all busy arguing with each other over whose way to eat is supposedly the right way. The world of nutrition is a shitshow of questionable studies, misinterpreted or misconstrued results, and frankly, flat-out lies.
- Our bodies are different. What makes one person feel their best, may make another person feel like crap so the idea that any one diet or food is always best simply isn't grounded in the reality of actual life. The best way to know if a way of eating is healthy for you is to see how your own body responds to it so you may as well cut out the middle man and just listen to it in the first place.
- You can't stick to it anyway and when you can't, you end up feeling shame, guilt, resentment, angry at yourself and you trust yourself a little bit less each time you feel like you failed. That makes it actively harmful and unhealthy.
- It keeps us disconnected from ourselves and our bodies. It's really difficult to be connected to ourselves, our bodies, and what they're trying to tell us from a solid foundation of trust and worthiness when we're spending all our time trying to "resist temptation" of the things other people say we shouldn't eat and force ourselves to eat what they say we should.
And even traditional “mindful eating” still has rules around how we should eat, suggesting that we shouldn’t be eating while doing other things.
But I enjoy picking at breakfast while I’m working. And I’m more than capable of working while thoroughly enjoying my food, maintaining connection with my body, and hearing it when it tells me I’m full.
It’s just taken some practice because it’s a skill I lost after years of trying to follow all the “healthy” rules.
Unlearning the rules has been one of the greatest lessons of my life.
I’ve learned that my body is more than capable of knowing (and telling me) what foods help it feel its best, and it tells me when it’s hungry and when it’s full.
I trust it now.
I don’t need or want anyone else telling me what or how to eat. Their rules almost destroyed me.
Their rules are destroying us. You don’t need more people telling you what or how to eat. It’s an enormous part of the problem you have with food because it’s keeping you disconnected from yourself and the wisdom of your own body.
It fosters disconnection from ourselves, our bodies, and our needs.
It creates distrust in ourselves and our bodies.
It contributes to (or creates) low-self worth, anxiety, chronic stress, overeating, emotional eating, binge eating, self-punishing behaviors, disconnection, depression, eating disorders, and feeling out of control around food.
If no one has ever told you this before, let me be the first.
I believe in you and your ability to make your own choices for yourself and your body.
I believe in your body and its ability to be trusted to tell you what, when and how much you need.
And I believe in your ability to learn how to believe in yourself in those ways again, too.
Wholehearted Being: The Path to Connection and Trust
I've been working with women around this whole healthy eating and living thing for 12 years and the longer I do so through this work, the more convinced I am that the path to truly healthy eating and living is through wholehearted being.
We’ve been taught to treat healthy eating and living as though it's an information problem, which is why all we get are rules about what we're supposed to be eating and doing.
But that's so condescending.
We already know what we need, we're just completely disconnected from it. Years of trying to follow rules (+ numb uncomfortable emotions and trying to be who and what we think we "should" be to feel accepted, or loved, or like we belong/fit in) will do that to a person.
Healthy eating and living aren't external, knowledge-based problems.
They’re an internal problem, a crisis of connection.
That's why I'm on a mission to redefine how we approach healthy eating and living.
We must start refocusing our attention away from the external shoulds… “I should eat this not that” and “I should exercise every day” and towards wholehearted being.
Being present, connected, curious and intentional with our thoughts, words, beliefs, and behaviors. Intentionally showing up for ourselves, our bodies, and our lives from a place of love, trust, kindness, and compassion that's grounded firmly in a solid foundation of our own worthiness.
After spending almost a decade as an award-winning personal trainer and (traditional) health and wellness coach and switching to spend the last number of years doing this work, I’m more convinced than ever that true healthy eating and living can ONLY be achieved through wholehearted being.
The real solution to what keeps us from truly eating and living well is wholehearted being: a way of eating, living and being that transforms from the inside out.
EMBODIED COGNITIVE EATING TRAINING CAN HELP YOU
The Academy is a specialized group coaching course. It combines a wide range of scientifically proven, evidence based modalities into an easy-to-follow step-by-step process that helps you understand why you can't stop eating in ways that don't serve your best interests and how to stop. It has been meticulously crafted and tested for almost three years with one goal in mind - helping you move past all the things that are keeping you stuck repeating the same self-destructive patterns so you can find peace and start living and feeling better.