Greetings! Just have some things on my mind I wanted to share over here on this blog thing.
This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but after traveling and listening to the way some friends talk about food/eating/working out, and the way the Real Housewives of Orange County (side note:why is it this group that does it the most? Real Housewives of NY seem to eat normally…) talk about food/eating/working out, and the way some of my fitness-hyped friends/gyms talk about food/eating/working out, I’m at my breaking point. Time to write!
I wanted to discuss a few things that I continually hear that are NOT HEALTHY behaviors. Sadly, society has made them ‘normal,’ so I can’t classify them as NOT HEALTHY NORMAL behaviors. Maybe some day.
Anyways, society has warped people’s ideas of what it means to be healthy. Even in the nutrition world, I see people I know take it too far. Nutritionists I follow on Instagram post their daily workouts and show all their pristinely healthy foods.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with regular exercise or black bean brownies, but like, it’s okay (actually, healthy) to have a bit of flexibility in your diet. Eating too healthy and working out rigorously all the time isn’t healthy; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
It can cause stress, anxiety, food-fear, guilt, and tumultuous relationships with food that can spiral into an eating disorder, or cause people to flirt with disordered eating thoughts and behaviors for years.
Admittedly, this is a lesson I learned with time. We all make mistakes, grow, and learn. So here are phrases I have banned from my vocabulary, or, at the very least, phrases or thoughts that I recognize as unhealthy if they creep up in my brain or in conversation. I encourage you to read them and assess your relationship with food:
1. ‘I’m banning sugar/fruit/carbs from my diet.’
Are you? That sounds difficult, sad, and downright impractical. Glucose is your body’s preferred source of energy, and it needs it!
I have no idea who decided bread and pasta are like, the worst thing ever, OR who decided that that the only ‘acceptable,’ sources of carbohydrates are quinoa and sweet potatoes, but it’s time to recognize that carbs are an important part of a healthy diet, as are sources of fat and protein.
So important, in fact, that it’s recommended you eat a majority of your calories from carbohydrates. So embrace that bread baby! And the fruit. All the fruit. And unfollow anyone on Instagram who tells you fruit is bad for you. They are bad for your mental health.
2. ‘I feel so guilty if I eat ____.’
Eating should never make you feel guilty. You are a freaking living organism for crying out loud. Do you feel guilty drinking water if you’re thirsty? No, you probably don’t.
So why on earth would you feel guilty giving your body fuel when you are hungry? Eating when you are hungry is the same as drinking when you are thirsty. Give. Your. Body. What. It. Needs.
And if you have guilt or anxiety around certain foods, perhaps you need to assess your relationship with eating. Food is just food. If you want an apple, eat an apple. If you want a cupcake, have a cupcake. Your body will break it down, digest it, and give you energy. So eat food. Enjoy it. And move on with life.
3. ‘No food after XX:00pm.’
Hey just another reminder that your body is a living organism, not a clock or a machine. You should eat when you are hungry. Period. Want lunch at 10:00am? Eat it. Want it at 2:00pm? Also cool.
Clocks don’t always match up with your hunger cycle, and every day is different. Instead of judging when you want to eat, or setting up windows when you can, start listening to your hunger/fullness cues instead of eating on a schedule.
4. ‘I didn’t work out today, so I can’t eat any __________ or go out to dinner/dessert.’
That sounds like a rigid, unhealthy relationship with food and movement. If you’re moving your body with the sole intention to burn calories, OR you feel you do not ‘deserve’ certain foods if you haven’t worked out enough, you may have an unhealthy relationship with exercise.
Here’s a fun fact: you burn calories all the time. When you’re sleeping, when you’re digesting food, when you go to the bathroom, even when you think – all of those things burn calories.
The human brain consumes roughly 420 calories per day, so you should be eating enough to fuel your brain, organs, and body enough to live through each day with ample energy and mental clarity.
Exercise should make you feel good; it should make you feel stronger. It isn’t a box you have to check off your list every day in order to eat appropriate amounts of food.
I don’t want to look back on my life and regret missing fun dinners or desserts out because I didn’t work out enough that day.
5. ‘Never miss a workout! #Noexcuses! #MotivationMonday.’
No excuses? What if you’re sick, tired, sore, or having a really stressful day where adding exercise to your routine will greatly increases your stress level? Those sound like darn good excuses to me…
Exercise should enhance you, not stress you out. And you should be able to ride with the ebs and flows of life and skip exercise when you aren’t feeling it or it isn’t convenient and not feel guilty or anxious about it.
Overexercising can increase stress hormones like cortisol, and cause all sorts of nasty impacts on your body/health. Making overexercise unhealthy.
If you think it’s more important to burn calories every day than to maintain your health, you should seriously check your relationship with food/eating.
6. ‘I was so bad last night….I ate _____.’
If you are labeling eating behavior as ‘good,’ and ‘bad,’ you may be flirting with (or have a full blown) disordered relationship with food.
People ask me all the time “Is X food or Y food better?” To which, I always respond, “Foods are very complex and everyone is different and in need of different things, so that’s a very complicated question.”
Try not to view foods as ‘good,’ and ‘bad.’ Sure, there are foods that have more fiber or protein or vitamin whatever than other foods, but just because a food is high in sugar or lacking trace minerals doesn’t make it ‘bad.’
Sometimes you gotta eat for your mental health or to enjoy social experiences. For example, if you choose not to eat cake on your friend’s birthday even though you want to eat it, simply because you think it’s ‘unhealthy,’ you are doing yourself more harm than good. And sometimes you just need a damn cookie after a long day because you are craving it.
Same goes with travel. Tasting new foods while traveling should enhance your travel experience, not cause anxiety. EMBRACE IT.
7. ‘I feel insane if I don’t workout every day.’
Do you? Because that is a little insane, and sounds a bit like exercise addiction, especially if missing exercise causes you to have anxiety. See numbers 4 and 5.
8. ‘I’m at my calorie limit for the day, so I can’t have any.’
If you count calories or track macros, I urge you to stop.
Can I ask you a question? Is your body a calculator? No. No it is not. So why are your treating it like a math equation. Every single day is different, so your needs are different each and every day to reflect that.
Some days you may be crazy hungry and need 5 meals and 4 snacks. Other days you may have less of an appetite. Both are totally normal. So why would you try to achieve a specific number each day, you’re actively disengaging from your hunger/fullness cues and REALLY messing with your body’s ability to naturally maintain homeostasis and body weight.
Do yourself a giant favor, and skip the counting. You’ll feel free, and more in tune to what your body wants, and what it actually needs.
9. ‘Earn/Sculpt Your Body.’
This is something I often hear at gyms or boutique fitness studios. Even at a boutique fitness studio I really love and have a membership to, I see/hear this all the time and it bothers me.
Here’s why: I just don’t think you should feel like you have to treat your body like it’s a goddamn piece of clay for some art show or something. Your body breathes. It digests food. Your brain thinks. It helps you learn, create, share information, and interact with others. It also helps you be able to exercise, and do all other amazing tasks you may need to do throughout the day.
Your body is FREAKIN’ AMAZING. So instead of viewing it as something to manipulate, how about showing it some gosh darn well-deserved appreciation?!
10. ‘I’m on a cleanse/doing a non-toxic lifestyle thing.’
Lol…I have no idea what people mean by ‘cleansing’ or ‘detoxifying foods.’ These are sexy phrases that have no scientific backing/evidence. No food has shown significant evidence to cleanse or detoxify you…your liver and kidney remove any real toxins so you can consider yourself all good on that front.
All of these cleanses and detoxifying powders and pills and potions and are simply a way for unregulated supplement companies and the ‘health influencer’ Instagram stars who promote them to make money off vulnerable people who are innocently looking to improve their health. Which is pretty shitty and irresponsible of them, if you ask me.
Same with ‘giving your digestive system a break.’ Hey guess what, you still digest things like juice. And your digestive system is designed to digest food on the regular. Like I said in #9, your body is FREAKIN’ AMAZING.
Would you put your pet on a cleanse? No, you probably wouldn’t. Because you’d think to yourself “No, that’s not normal. My dog is supposed to eat every day and would be grumpy if they didn’t.” Well then. Same goes to YOU!
So skip that cleanse, and buy some delicious groceries and EAT. Because eating is satisfying, delicious and fun.
I challenge you to recognize when these phrases come up in conversation, on TV, on a magazine cover, on an Instagram ‘health influencer,’ star’s stories, or on the wall at a fitness boutique and ignore them. You have the power to do so and it is oh so very freeing.
This takes time and practice to do so be patient and forgiving with yourself. But your brain and body will thank you!