After six months of consciously practicing food freedom, I decided the best/most concise way I could sum it up (thus far) would be to list the tendencies, beliefs, habits, and thoughts that had been perpetuating my disorder ways of looking at food, eating, and my body. Finally, one day, I had this breakthrough of like, HELLO!!! Cut the shit, and stop wasting all of your talent and time and energy and vibrations on these horrible and not constructive thoughts. It's time to live a life where I love myself enough to eat what will make me feel good. A life where I look into the mirror and unconditionally love the person I see. A life where the only time I think about food or my body is when I am eating or moving. So here's a list of things that I was doing that were holding me back from living that life. Hopefully, if some of these sound familiar to you, you can now be at ease knowing someone else has been there, and know that you, too, can change your life for the absolute best. So without further ado...
"Disordered" habits, thoughts, patterns, and beliefs that were holding me back from a healthy body image and relationship with food, in no particular order:
Having to “make sense” of the food I ate. Examples: “It’s okay that I ate this much at lunch because I will have a salad for dinner" or "It's fine that I am having a handful of pretzels now because I haven't really had a 'snack' food yet." I have become aware that my brain has a need for a false and elusive cohesion when it comes to food. Like, if I want pretzels but already had chips earlier it doesn't dig that., because that is two "snack" foods "outside of meals". Or if I am eating a food that doesn't "match" the other foods I am eating with it, it disagrees. It took practice to recognize these are simply ALL made up obsessions at an attempt at my brain having made up control.
Telling myself what amount I will eat at the next meal/what I will have. This goes with what I said above. Sometimes when I would have a larger meal for lunch, my mind would instantly say "well its fine, we will eat less at dinner"...even if I was super hungry at dinner. Preconceived ideas of meals and how big they should be are silly and counterproductive (I end up eating a large amount, just in small random spurts of denial that I could still possibly be hungry).
Excessive planning of meals. I think it's totally fine to have a salad for lunch to get greens in because you want a loaded (veggie:D) burger for dinner with fries, but I was overthinking to the point of "If I have this almond milk latte I can't have almond milk yogurt or almond milk ice cream later because thats too much almond-based product so I have to decide now if I want this latte or ice cream later." Things like that. Wayyyyy too much thought. Sooo much unnecessary planning. Again- I am all for planning to get your greens in if you know you won't later, but not obsessing.
Having “safe” foods and meals that I was afraid to stray from. I am 98% carrots&hummus. Half because it was my safety snack for awhile, half because it is still just my fave snack.
Counting calories before, after, or during meals. I do not and will not count calories ever again. It is a game that cannot be won. Calories literally don't matter-for me at least. Some days I probably eat 2000, and others I know I eat at least 4,000. Some people say to "count nutrients" instead, but I am A-okay not countin' a damn thing.
Working out to “earn” food. I essentially felt unworthy to eat if I wasn't working out. Now, I workout because it makes me feel like a damn badass, gives me energy, and makes me strong. *Sidenote: I firmly believe IT IS OKAY TO WANT TO LOOK GOOD and to workout so that our body looks a certain way- just not at the price of mental sanity by any means. But hey- if you wanna workout to lose a few lbs- why is that such a bad thing? It only becomes an issue when, like I said, you are working out to earn your meals or can't love yourself at any weight. If you wanna workout to feel better in your clothes or like how you look naked though, then cool. I'm all about that. People say body love is loving your body all of the time, but just because I wanna dye my hair doesn't mean I don't love myself, and losing weight is the same thing. End note*
Not eating as much when you don’t workout, even if you are hungry. If you're hungry-eat...whether you worked out for ten hours or didn't leave your bed.
Telling yourself you don’t feel well after eating. After a while, I noticed I was in a pattern of expecting not to feel good after eating. I literally had a fake story going on that I had to become aware of, release, and reaffirm over, after I would finish eating. So, over time after meals -and still now- I feel gratitude for the food I ate and tell myself how great I feel for the the fuel. Y'all know how I feel about the mind body connection, so check-in with your stories surrounding how you feel around mealtime. Your breathing is always a good indication of what is going on(my heart rate sometimes speeds up when I get anxiety while eating).
Not eating despite being hungry. Kinda goes with #6, but just a reminder.
Putting off eating until a certain time/until a certain window of time has gone by (not having a snack so that you had gone three hours without eating even though you are hungry, not eating past 8 PM even though you are hungry, etc).
Fasting unnecessarily. To be clear, I now practice intermittent fasting on rare occasion, because I do believe there are crazy benefits (that I have experienced) from it. That being said, this is NOT something to try or to practice while working on regaining a healthy relationship with food and your body. I won't get too into this, but even now that I am in an amazing place and occasionally fasting will bring up emotional "stuff" for me that I have to let go of. Plus, I love eating breaky in the morning with my matcha.
Putting restrictions of any sort on what you allow yourself to eat. Telling yourself you "can" or "cannot" eat certain foods.
Over-desiring food (i.e. thinking about the food at an event rather than the event; constantly thinking about what you will eat or drink next; looking for happiness in food). Don't get me wrong, we should totally enjoy our food everytime we eat, but that is far different than seeking solace in food, trying to escape an emotion by eating, or relying on food for happiness.
....Which leads me to: Eating when we are experiencing an emotion. Eating to cover up a feeling. Numbing ourselves with food. No beuno. None of it. Start to tap into what is an emotional hunger and what is a physical hunger (tummy and energy levels will tell you when you're physically hungry, mind and mood will tell you when you're emotionally hungry).
Not going to events or out with friends for fear of calories/not having control over the food and ingredients. My friends can sadly attest that this caused me to miss out a lot over the years. My best friend (hey Juj!) once asked me "If calories weren't a thing, would you come out with us?" and when the answer was sadly "Yes", I realized I had some work to do.
Going out with friends but not getting dinner or a drink even though you intuitively want to. Sitting there with soda water when you're eyeing the chips and guac and margaritas (with salt around the rim-I die) is just the worst. It isn't good for your soul. Guac is always good for the soul.
Going out with friends and getting a salad when your body is screaming for the loaded pasta dish and a glass of wine. I have been here too many times to count: I have a craving or know what I want; I opt for a "healthier" meal; I go home and eat everything in my pantry because I am unsatisfied. Get what you want and save yourself from the binge-eating (of things you probably aren't even craving cause YOU JUST WANTED THE DAMN PASTA).
Overeating constantly when not hungry (I say constantly because once in a while having dessert after dinner if you aren’t hungry is good for the soul!). If you are constantly overriding the mechanism in your brain that tells you when you are satiated, then you eventually turn it off completely, making it almost impossible to know when you are actually full/satisfied. Body love is stopping when you are full JUST as much as it is eating a donut when you want one.
Feeling the need to make myself sick and/or take laxatives. Been here too many times to count. For me, promoting self-love and self-worth as well as working on my core (physically and spiritually) were saviors. I had to tap into my purpose and release stale emotions in my stomach and solar plexus. When I would get the urge to binge and/or throw-up, I would experience the feeling fully, and just ride it out. I would not label the feeling as good or bad, nor take action on it. I let it dissipate. I would remind myself how worthy I was to not overeat, to not binge, to not purge, etc.
Putting labels of any kind on any food. Good/bad. Healthy/unhealthy.
Comparing what I ate and how much I ate to others.Questioning how others eat so much/so little. Trying to understand how people can be thin who don’t eat only salad/having jealousy (whether conscious or not) of people who have “food freedom” and are still slender. Constantly comparing what I ate to other people's "What I Ate Wednesdays" (I have come to hate those. EVERYONE is different. No one should ever base their food intake or choices on others. Period.).
Drinking beverages in the morning to enable myself to purposefully skip a meal. No no...NO.
Feeling the need to always swap out ingredients for “healthier” alternatives in recipes. For example, I would be craving an old school, homemade chocolate chip cookie, but feel it necessary to swap out the all purpose flour for almond flour. Don't get me wrong, most of the time I do indeed use almond flour because it makes my body feel better and still tastes great, but the sugary, white floury kind is good once in awhile, too :)
Always having food with me-not because I might get hungry, but because I was scared to leave what I would eat up to chance. Not being able to go with the flow in terms of where I ate and what I ate.
Constantly eating foods you KNOW don't make you feel good simply because you like them. I have loved coffee since I was 16. The taste. The ritual. The smell. EVERYTHING. That being said, coffee makes me feel like shit and tends to give me anxiety. Yet there I was, still drinking it. I realized that it was SO routine that I hadn't even considered giving it up. I realized that I enjoyed it so much that I was drinking it simply for taste, though I knew it wouldn't make me feel good. TBH I'm still working on breaking the addiction lol, but I realized that this it isn't okay to sacrifice health for taste and "emotional" comfort.
Okay. So. I just want to clarify a few (a lot) of things. This list is just what has pertained to ME. These may not ring true for you, nor do you have to agree with them. I am just sharing thoughts and beliefs that have held me back from recovery in the past. I also want to point out that I am now at a point where I can in fact decide what is “healthier”…FOR ME. So do I choose smoothies and salads and non-processed foods 99% of the time? Yes. Because I choose to. Because my body likes foods from the Earth- foods that are not processed or genetically modified. I have always known and believed this was the best way for me to eat, but I HAD to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted for awhile, and prove to myself that I would indeed survive eating whatever I wanted. I had to take ALL restrictions off of food and labels in my head. I had to eat the ice cream even when I wasn’t sure I wanted it, just to prove to myself I could. But NOW, my truth that has always been there can be allowed without resistance- that truth being that these organic foods from the Earth are going to make me glow and thrive and give me energy and make me feel fucking amazing. For sure I'll have ice cream if I want it. For sure. But I will also pass on it just as easily. I think that eating fruits and vegetables and salads and food that your body recognizes is demonized for the sake of shouting about food freedom for the roof tops, and I also think food freedom can be tricky. It is just as important to tap into when we DON'T have to eat that donut as when we DO. Do you feel me? Like, I got caught up SO much in intuitive eating that I would eat oreos just to eat them. That isn't intuitive.
One last thing: I want to be transparent with my weight fluctuation during this process. I started my "conscious food freedom journey" two months ago, and during it gained 12 pounds. I am not beating myself up over it by any means, because I know I had to allow myself to cure my fears and to strive for recovery. Like I said, the more I actually understand my intuitive eating, the easier it will be to eat until sanitation, and to recognize when I have an actual craving, or an emotional craving. Now, as I am coming to the best place I have ever been and eating what I want when I want it (and exercising for FUN), the weight is coming back off without even thinking twice.
All in all, I hope this list was helpful to all of you who read it! I know it was lengthy and wordy, but I really wanted to get most of my thoughts down.
If you have ANY thoughts or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out! I am always here to chat.