Let’s talk about food for a minute, shall we? After all, it is my favorite subject.
Actually I don’t want to talk about certain kinds of foods, but how I approach eating as a general rule. In the last couple-ish years, I’ve been working A LOT on my relationship with food and I’m happy to say that I’m finally recognizing some great results. I no longer binge, and my emotional eating has been cut way, way back. Yeah sometimes I still eat for emotions, but guess what? EVERYONE DOES SOMETIMES. It’s only a problem if it becomes a habit you can’t control. But I digress…
So, Thursday night is a great example of how I decide what I’m going to eat. My daughter had a band concert that evening and afterwards we went to Braum’s because that’s what we always do after evening school activities. Braum’s is an ice cream/dairy store/hamburger place and if you don’t know Braum’s then I’m sorry that the Lord is not letting you live your best life because, man…you are missing out. Anyway, so we walk into Braum’s and immediately there is a big sign for a new Strawberry spinach chicken salad they are now offering and if you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of pairing strawberries with spinach and chicken. So I’m thinking I’m going to get that salad, but then I smell the hamburgers and here’s how my thought process went down:
- The salad looks really good and fresh
- but the hamburgers and fries smell delicious
- but if I get the hamburger and fries, I’m probably going to feel really full and bloated
- and it’s almost 8:30pm, do I really want to go to bed feeling that way?
- I think I’d rather not feel so full because that wouldn’t make me feel very good so
- Salad it is!
I had the salad because I knew that it was probably more nutritious than the burger, and also because I just didn’t want to feel sluggish and heavy, like I knew I would if I had the burger & fries.
And in case you think me super virtuous, after I ate my salad I was eyeing my daughter’s leftover fries and decided to have some but as I did, this was my thought process:
- I wonder if those fries taste good?
- I’m going to take a bite and as I eat this I’m going to focus on how they actually taste vs. how I WANT them to taste and whether or not they’re actually worth eating
- Hmmm, it’s okay, nothing special really. I mean, they’re alright, but not worth making myself feel too full.
I ate a total of 3 fries and then I was done with them. Didn’t want them any longer. (I know, right?! Who’da thunk it?!)
Now, back in the day, I would have gotten the salad (because that’s what all dieters “should” do – ugh), but I would have been lusting after the burger and fries (and ice cream for dessert) and I would have walked away feeling deprived and probably a little ticked off, but since it was MY decision to eat based on what would make me feel the best in that moment, it was easy to not choose the burger, and it was easy to stop at three french fries and it was easy to say no to ice cream when my husband asked if I wanted any before we left.
This is the piece that was missing for all those years I spent trying to lose weight. It has to be my decision to eat what feels good for me and yes most of the time that’s going to be protein & vegetables, butonce in a while it might be ice cream. I’m taking away the judgment and focusing on what feels good for me in that moment. You can call it mindful eating, you can call it intuitive eating, but really I’m just paying attention to how I want to feel and what behaviors are going to get me there – that is what guides my food choices.
If this resonates with you, next time you have an eating opportunity I invite you to really think about what would feel good for you in that moment. Does your body need something soothing like soup? Does it need a big salad loaded with crunchy fresh vegetables? Do you really even need to eat all…maybe a big glass of water or hot tea is what you need? Maybe you do need that square of chocolate or that spoonful of peanut butter, who knows? Just try to pay attention to your body and ask it what it needs…see how that feels, and then notice how you feel after you eat as well because that matters too.
It’s much more fun to approach eating with a curious mind – just try it and see!