Obsessed: Two Variations of Food Consumption
Over the past couple weeks I have had numerous conversations about nutrition, daily diet habits, things that people are doing well, places they get stuck and dietary habits that have become big weaknesses that trip them up. While listening and advising, I’ve also been doing a lot of self reflection and realizing that there are two types of people when it comes to nutrition and our diet!
Here are the thoughts I’ve been spending a lot of time sorting through and trying to make sense of. I believe we all have a relationship with food, after all, we need it to survive. Some people have a healthier relationship than others, but we all have one that can be healthier. I have yet to talk to anyone that has a perfectly healthy relationship with food. We’re human, none of us are perfect at anything. Here are the two sides I tend to see people on: 1) they are either out of control of what they eat and find saying no to things they will regret impossible. These people are mass consumers. They see food in front of them and usually finish it, but immediately regret it. 2) Completely controlled by what they don’t eat and can’t relax about how hungry they might be. These individuals are ok being hungry, though.
Both ends of the spectrum are unhealthy and don’t serve our bodies well.
For me personally it is very easy to stamp “I am very disciplined” on my unhealthy relationship with food. Don’t get my wrong I am not saying a healthy diet and the discipline to stick with it is bad. However, when there are moments where I am completely unable to enjoy myself because I’m obsessing over what I can and can’t eat, then it becomes a problem. For example, a couple weekends ago I was at my nephew's wedding. It was gorgeous and everything was perfect. Even the meal was, from what I was told, incredible. However, because I am so “disciplined”, I couldn't eat much. Nothing except the veggies was in my “diet plan”, so I ate broccoli for dinner and then was grumpy for a long time about how hungry I was. Truly felt miserable and not at all how I wanted to spend the evening celebrating my nephew and my new niece. I then regretted not eating more.
An example on the opposite end would be how my husband ate that night. He LOVES all kinds of food and when it is in front of him he has no ability to stop eating it. Long after he was completely full, we was in line for another full plate of the delicious meal being served. He does this enough that he knows how it will end. He knows he will soon be incredibly uncomfortable and unable to enjoy his evening because his stomach hurts and he doesn’t feel well. He then regretted his decision of eating too much.
Both ends of the spectrum are unpleasant and tend to mess with us physically, along with our emotions.
So what is the happy medium?
How do we get out of a place where we’re not controlled by cravings, but also not controlled by a fear of food?
One giant step is education. Understand what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Learn what your body truly needs to perform your daily task optimally and then make that a priority. Find out what body type you are so you know what macros to prioritize. Understand what soda does to your body and what water does to your body. That way when you make decisions about what to eat and what not to eat, you are informed and at least understand what is happening when you consume what you’re about to put in your mouth.
Another massive step is to take a deep breath and relax. If you’re overly stressed about what you eat, the stress is going to take a big toll on your body. You will probably end up making poor food choices. Allow yourself to eat a large variety of foods and occasionally include the things you’re afraid to eat, in moderation. This way you’re body learns what to do with it when you enjoy something sweet, sugary, or salty. If its occasional and intentional you’ll lose the regret of “slipping up”. You’ll also lose the stress of being in situations where you want to enjoy yourself and have a good time, but can’t eat what is served.
Finally, one of the best things to set up is to set boundaries and ask someone to help you. If you know you’re weakness is being unable to stop when you’re at a party with unlimited amounts of food or if the ice cream in the freezer is more than you can ignore, tell somebody who you know will help keep you in line. It might seem embarrassing at first, but support goes a long way. Decide how many trips to the party buffet line you will allow yourself ahead of time. Or how many nights ice cream is going to be a part of your plan, on a monthly basis (not weekly). Then share that with someone close to you. Those who love you enough to check in an hold you to YOUR plan, will help you in the long run.