We’ve all been there—fresh from a new diet and feeling good, we think we’re making healthy decisions for ourselves no matter how unrealistic it is to keep up with the new lifestyle changes. They’ve been called holy grails, life-changing, and my personal favorite, fads.
But how do we get away from them? By finding food freedom.
If you are reading this and struggle with talk of dieting, calorie counting, or fast/binge habits, please click out of this post. There are conversations we are ready for and those that are best left unspoken—as much as I encourage people to choose a diet fit for themselves, it can be much more complicated than that. I also would like to take the time to say I am not a registered nutritionist or dietician so this is all personal advice and not that given by a medical professional. When in doubt, always contact your dietician or food therapist when making lifestyle changes, and good luck with your endeavors!
Like many young women, I’ve had my fair share of discomfort in my own skin and played games with my diet until finding what worked best for me. Unfortunately, this meant trying intermittent fasting, cutting out my favorite foods and food groups, and restricting to try to be “healthy”. What I didn’t know was that these are all telltale signs of disordered thoughts surrounding food. They can easily become an obsession when you believe they are linked to being healthier.
I’m grateful that I now know the healthiest thing I can do for my body is cater to its needs. My hunger pangs are for me to find sustenance, not for me to ignore. There should be no guilt associated with eating, even if it’s not “clean” eating. You are keeping your body alive and that is something to celebrate.
Finding Food Freedom
There are many different aspects of food freedom and why it is so important to keep in mind every day. First and foremost, it defines your individual needs and allows us to cater to our unique bodies. Illness, disability, slow/fast metabolism, active/immobile lifestyle, and many other factors play into our eating habits and there is no point in shaming ourselves for personalizing our meals the way we do everything else.
Your body is a living thing and should be given suitable dietary needs to thrive.
Just as we spoil our pets and care so much when our plants begin to wilt, you should be taking care of your body as though it is your most prized possession… because it is! Keep yourself alive and thriving—this is our first priority in life.
Eating what your body is craving is more important than sticking to a fad diet that generalizes people’s health differences for the sake of gaining popularity.
These diets aren’t curated for your lifestyle: activity rate, what you’re eating, and your natural metabolism are unique and affect your weight, fat distribution, and muscle distribution. Pushing off a craving will only make you want it more and there should be no guilt assigned to having a treat.
Your body has unique needs—so cater to them!
For some it’s bloating, others get inflammation, and some of us get cramps. An irregular eating pattern could cause issues with acid buildup just as overeating can cause bloating. For consistency, eat when hungry and eat until you are full. The restriction will only make things worse until you start eating for YOUR body.
It is normal to eat more when you are hungry!
There is nothing wrong with allowing your body to have more if what it has already gotten is not enough. Like a plant needs fertilizer and water, you need a little extra sustenance too!
Celebrate your ability to maintain!
You are eating for your body on its natural metabolic schedule and that can be difficult! Some tell you to pass it off as boredom, but it’s best to listen to your body. As long as you aren’t dehydrated, those hunger pangs are going to be solved by one thing: food. Bonus points if you have a big glass of water with each meal!
There’s no shame in having a different plate than someone else.
You are eating for your body. They are eating for their body. Your bodies are not the same and do not have the same wants and needs. You have different preferences and thus different eating habits. There is no pressure to eat the same foods or the same amount of food as your peers.
We all need variety!
There’s no fun in eating the same thing every day as part of a “healthy meal plan”. Of course, it can be cheaper to make many meals with the same ingredients, but that doesn’t mean eating the same thing all week long. Mix and match sides and have different snacks based on your daily preferences! Though, if you are craving the same thing several days in a row, have some each day rather than pushing off the cravings.
Trying new foods is exciting!
Whether it be going to a restaurant and trying a new item off the menu or cooking a new recipe, food should excite you. There is always comfort in having an old favorite but that doesn’t mean you can’t try new foods without fear. Experiment with new food combos and see what does and doesn’t work for you, then experiment some more! A lot of recipes found on my blog are from at-home experimentation with the ingredients found in our fridge and cupboard. Here’s a fun food challenge: clean out your fridge once a week and use any ingredients that might go bad soon to make a franken-food!
Find a new love for cooking!
You should feel pride when making a new recipe, even if it doesn’t come out picture-perfect. It takes a lot of effort to prep all the ingredients, set aside the time to complete it, and then follow through with it!
Despite it being challenging at first if you’re not used to cooking your own meals from scratch, it’s a habit that brings pride in its footsteps. Whenever I cook a meal, even if I use another blog for inspiration or exact instruction, there is pride in the final outcome! Eat that delicious meal and savor every bit of effort put into making it!
Understand a balance of wants and needs!
There is no such thing as a ‘cheat day‘. There is only the normalcy of having a piece of your favorite candy or eating a larger meal because you were still hungry. Just as there is no guilt associated with eating our favorites, there is no ‘cheating’ when it comes to nourishing our bodies.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t post about food freedom and preach how easy it is to love yourself and nurture your body properly. It can be so difficult if you don’t already have love invested in yourself, but it’s worth every moment of struggle to look back at yourself and see growth. It took me years to go from a young girl with self-doubt to a young woman with genuine confidence—and it was never a race!