Healthy eating and healthy living is definitely a lifestyle. A lot of time, effort and self-control goes into making the right decisions when it comes to food. But sometimes, it’s hard to always say “no” to your favorite things to eat. It’s easy to fall into a deceptive web of self-pity and negativity when we eat the things we consider “not good” for our health. While I’m a huge believer in healthy eating, I am also a believer in self-care and self-love. After all, you can’t take care of your body, if you’re not taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally. You may be one of those people who is often very hard on yourself. Here a few tips on Guilt-Free Eating to help you balance healthy eating with living well. In the long term, it will help you be happier and stick to your goals.
The Vicious Cycle
Scenario: You’ve been doing well for a week. You’re working out, eating healthy, seeing results, and then you start to get those cravings. You try to avoid it so much it becomes your focus. You eat the forbidden food, and then you feel guilty. Next, it leads to a spiral of binge eating that leaves you feeling disappointed and upset.
My advice: Mentally prep yourself to know you WILL eat it. Give yourself permission to eat a small portion of the food. And that it is OK. If you already know you’re going to eat it, it won’t engross your thoughts and you are less likely to binge. Enjoy yourself without all the push and pull.
Get Back Up
Scenario: You go to a party or get together and end up eating more than expected. Or, maybe you had a heavy breakfast that leaves you feeling gross and tired. Or you binge and all is thrown off. This might lead to you feeling disappointed and result in making some unhealthy decisions throughout the rest of the day or cause you to throw in the towel.
How to stop this: Train yourself to remember that healthy eating is NOT a straight and easy path. Some days we will eat too much and some days we won’t eat enough. It’s just life. Get back up and get back in the game. Go for a walk and let go of all those negative feelings. Let those endorphins get you back on the right track. After all, it’s just one meal. You have plenty more to enjoy. Start fresh again. You got this.
The goal is not to demonize any kind of food. There is nothing wrong with a cookie or a piece of pizza. However, it is important to be mindful of how much and how often we eat certain foods. Seek balance and practice moderation. Remember that food is necessary for both nourishment and enjoyment. Work on not only having a healthy body, but also on having a healthy relationship with yourself and with food – this is truly Guilt-Free Eating.
Liz Rodriguez, Dietetic Intern