What happened to “just” eating?
Long story short: Industry happened. Foods turned into products. And products need to be advertised, marketed and sold.
That’s where the neverending flux of “information” around nutrition and diet comes from. Whenever someone tells you to “eat this, not that”, chances are it’s because they’re trying to sell “this”.
So if you’re confused about what to eat and not to eat, I want you to know that’s perfectly normal. You’ve been bombarded with hundreds of contradicting messages around food, nutrition, health and body from all kinds of people with all kinds of agendas. Of course you’re confused. That’s not your fault. It is, however, your responsibility to get out of that confusion.
3 suggestions on how to reduce confusion & experience more freedom around food:
Food Freedom step 1: Re-evaluate your restrictions.
I’ve been struggling with binge eating for several years. I used to think the binges were the problem and the restriction the solution. If I could just be a little more strict, a little more disciplined, a little more controlled, I’d finally get out of this vicious cycle of starving and overeating.
The truth is: I had it all wrong. The restriction was the problem. The binges were the solution — my tortured body’s way of trying to make up for the lack the twisted mind created.
I do not know what it is that makes us think that a path of restriction and deprivation will lead us to freedom and fulfillment. But it can’t and it won’t. So if you want to experience freedom around food, it is essential to be very mindful of the restrictions you have created around it.
It is important to note that not all restrictions are equal. Some can be helpful, most will be harmful. It takes a lot of self-awareness & constant re-evaluation to know what is what.
Here are some questions for you to ask yourself with regards to your restrictions:
👉🏽 Are your restrictions body-based (feeling) or mind-based (thinking)?
👉🏽 Do they come from within or without?
👉🏽 Do they feel limiting or freeing?
Even though this is a highly individual topic, here are some recommendations that apply to most people seeking Food Freedom:
- ALL foods are allowed.
Mental labels of “forbidden” foods are more toxic than whatever these foods may contain. (Obviously, if you have any allergies or cannot tolerate certain foods, it makes sense to avoid them. Food Freedom is all about trusting your body and making choices based on how certain foods make you feel rather than following rules imposed by others (or diet culture).)
- NO calorie counting.
Learn to eat as much as you need to feel comfortably full.
- NO weighing (of either food or yourself).
Seriously. Just throw out your scale. It doesn’t tell you anything worth knowing.
- EAT when you’re hungry.
It really is that simple. Your body will tell you when it needs food and when it doesn’t.
Essentially, whatever rules you’ve picked up around food, they’re probably not yours. So let them go and find out what works for you and your body.
Food Freedom step 2: Get out of your head and into your body.
This step is closely connected to the first one. It’s all about shifting your attention from what you’ve been thaught to believe to what you know to be true deep inside. It’s moving away from all the thinking, analyzing and calculating that just creates more and more confusion.
It’s starting to tune in and listen to who knows best, who always has your best interest in mind: Your own body. This is your personal, internal nutritionist specialized in you. This is the only expert you’ll ever need.
And the best part is: It’s free and always available. All you need to do is ask and listen. Maybe you’ll also have to re-learn its language to better understand the information it’s constantly giving you. This might take some time and practice, but I promise you: It’s so worth it.
This could help you re-establish a healthy relationship with your body:
- Intuitive movement
This means moving in a way that feels like a celebration of your body, not a struggle of trying to change its shape or a punishment for what you ate. The way, duration and intensity your body wants and needs to move may be different every day. Honor that.
- Breathwork & Meditation
I know these are some buzzwords that are all over the place right now. But maybe there’s a good reason for that. Connecting to your breath is a powerful tool to regulate your nervous system responses, calm your mind and connect to your body. Meditation is something that can occur as a result of that (or many other things, for that matter): It’s being fully present and observing without judging (which is pretty useful for the upcoming step 3 ;)).
- Slowing down (with food & life)
It’s tricky to tune in and listen if you have a thousand things on your mind and a million more on your to-do-list. Truly listening takes time and space, undivided attention and focus. This goes for listening to others as well as yourself. Slowing down and decluttering (physically & mentally) can help create that space. Taking the time to eat consciously without distractions (phone, TV, etc.) is a good place to start.
Food Freedom step 3: Change your self talk.
Let’s be honest: We all have it. That mean little voice inside our heads that tells us all the things we suck at, shouldn’t have done or will never be able to do. That’s our inner critic. And it can be one of the biggest barriers to a healthy relationship with food & body image. I’ve found that changing the way we talk to ourselves is one of the key components to create Food Freedom. This is why I wrote a separate article about 5 tools you can start using today to transform your negative self talk.
If there’s one thing you remember from this article, let it be this: You are perfectly okay just as you are in this moment. What if you got to a point where you could actually, fully, deeply believe that truth? Wouldn’t that be freeing? Wouldn’t that simplify your life? Wouldn’t that be a huge step towards Food Freedom? I firmly believe it would. It’s up to you to take it. And I’m here to support you on your journey.
Which of these suggestions do you find most useful? Feel free to try and share them!
If you’re curious to learn more about these and other tools and find what best works for you, check out my 6 months to Food Freedom program.