This is Part 2 of a 3 part series on having a better relationship to food. It’s not for everyone, you’ve been warned. Missed Part 1? Catch up here first.
No shame today, I’m gonna tell you what I was really like, before I knew my relationship to food wasn’t uh, stellar.
By now, I’ve probably scared at least half of you off from this blog post series, but that’s ok.
For those of you that are still here, I’m just praying that in sharing my story so openly and out there, that you can start to piece together your own story too. To start conversations about it. Between girlfriends. With your hubbies. And most importantly— with your daughters (and sons) and soon too, their friends.
It’s so silly that we don’t talk about this stuff, because everyone has a relationship to food. Some are simple, some are neutral, and some are so complicated, it’s hard to know where to even start.
And most of us, if in between ages 18-45 right now, grew up at a crazy time with food and marketing and diets, with so much conflicting information and no education on the basics of REAL FOOD, it’s no wonder that most of us are aimlessly floating and still trying to figure this stuff out.
I know that I would have been in that same boat, had I not been forced to confront what was really going on, years ago. Had I not studied abroad in Italy. It scares me to think about it, all that time and life and headspace wasted on being anything other than calm and joyful around food.
My life would have been so different. Sliding doors, style.
This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I used to be. The legitimate thoughts that used to go though my head, and how I took them so seriously. They were MY LIFE.
I was always half-thinking about about food…..and trying to be healthy, strategizing, making deals with myself, measuring or counting, etc.
I mean, A for effort. I really got after it, trying any and every thing, struggling to nail the ONE right way to eat. But a lot of my moves weren’t even full diets, they were like little soundbites:
- no matter what you do, do not eat carbs. Ever. Or the fat monster comes.
- eat as much fiber as you can, so it all goes through you (and therefore doesn’t count)
- never, ever order a full entree at a restaurant. That’s what fatty’s do. Eat “light” by just getting an appetizer and save yourself millions of calories.
- eat on smaller plates (but never red ones)
- if you’re going to have treats, make sure they are vegan only.
- as long as it’s fat-free or non-fat, it’s healthy
- as long it’s high protein, it’s healthy
- as long as it’s gluten-free, it’s healthy
- as long as it’s low sugar or sugar-free, it’s healthy
- never drink wine or booze (too many calories)
- eat a huge breakfast, a medium lunch and a light dinner.
- snack all the time, it’s better for your metabolism to eat little things all day long.
- no matter what you do, never skip breakfast.
- egg whites are better than egg yolks
- whole wheat bread/pasta is better than white bread/pasta
- work out more. It’s a simple equation, duh. Don’t ever miss a day. Especially cardio.
- Nuts, fruit and bars are the best snacks. No limits on these.
- bars are the best way to know exactly how much to burn later.
- carrots are too high in sugar and will make you fat.
- apples are a free-for-all (don’t count). Same with most fruit.
- vegetarian and plant based is always healthier
- frozen yogurt is healthier than ice cream
- drink milk for more calcium (always non-fat)
- soy milk or rice milk instead of regular though
- splenda and stevia is better than sugar
- pick low calorie snacks like popcorn, pretzels, cereal and dried fruit.
- cereal and oatmeal on repeat.
- coffee helps you lose weight
- frozen meals help you control your portions, eat them often
- mid-afternoon crash, snack attack
- late night snack attack (pretzels)
- no butter, ever
- no meat, ever
If you’re not overwhelmed by reading that, I feel overwhelmed just typing it.
It makes me want to wrap my old self in a hug, and physcially dump all those silly thoughts out of her head. And then, replace it with a clean little slate that only focuses on the things that matter and make an impact… not all the noise.
Back then, trying to figure out my food puzzle just felt so out of my control for the amount of attention I was putting in. I felt stuck and frustrated a lot of the time.
That no matter what I did or tested or tried, nothing really fully clicked for me.
No matter how ‘healthy” I ate, I still had sugar and carb cravings.
And blood sugar crashes/hangry problems. I was hungry all the time, and thought about food all the time.
I was nervous to eat out or go over other people’s houses.
And would feel guilty if I missed even one day at the gym.
And guilty if I had just one thing that wasn’t “healthy” high in calories/fat/carbs.
And panicky before every vacation or trip, ever.
And no idea how to cook.
And multiple pairs of jeans in a three size range, depending on the day.
And mad at how easy it seemed for all of my friends.
Because I was doing all the right things. So why didn’t I feel like it?
I would tell myself that once I finally figured it out, then THEN I could pay attention to the other things in life. When I felt in control enough, in jean size I wanted, then THEN I could really live how I wanted to (like all my other friends, carefree and able to eat ice cream without flinching or immediate remorse)
I wish someone told me that it was the other way around. And to stop trying to struggle-bus my way upstream.
That working on getting grounded, solid and more joyful with food, makes everything else in life (physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, inspirationally) so much easier. My sequencing was all wrong, because no one ever teaches you that stuff. No one ever talked about having a happy and healthy relationship to food.
It was not a thing.
Just workout tips and diet strategies.
That’s what I so badly want to change.
And I know that I can talk about it now, because if you’ve gotten this far down the page, there’s a reason that you’re here too, reading this. I truly believe that, with all of my heart. That the universe sends us messages we so badly need to hear, if we pay attention.
Some of the other things I wished someone had told me?
That looking at the bigger picture of how much food affects and plays a role in our LIFE, makes everything a lot less cluttered, panicky and random. It makes life more simple, streamlined and easy, not more complicated.
That you can finally understand how exact foods make you feel, and learn to connect the dots.
I wish that someone told me that you get to offload so much stuff, not add more on. Which frees up so much time and headspace for the things that matter more to your life!
And that it’s way more fun, because once all that diet stuff is wiped out of your brain, real food– in all it’s gorgeous beauty takes its place, and tastes and feels better than anything else. With so many options, that you never feel stuck or deprived or like rebelling against it.
How could you when real butter, potatoes, wine, bacon and ice cream are real foods? All things I’d never allow myself to get within a 2 foot radius of.
I so wish that someone told me that eating real food, is just the beginning, not the end to having a healthy and happy lifestyle. That there’s a lot of stuff that happens in between those two things.
That how you are with food (calm vs anxious, uptight vs relaxed and happy) is how you are with everything else in your life. It permeates all, and you can’t hide from it for long before it starts impacting everything else.
It’s the center domino, and you could spend so many years testing and trying to find the perfect way to eat, when in reality, it’s your relationship to it that the matters most to your actual daily quality of life.
kindness and ability to give to others
That solving this confusion around food and having a better relationship to it, fixes and elevates everything.
It calms and centers all. And makes it so much easier to tune in to what your body is saying. To go with the flow of life more effortlessly and for the longterm, instead of trying to tightly control it, and going through good and bad phases with food all the time.
So as we dig in a little more to this whole concept of more food freedom- of what that means and what that looks like (specifically), I guess I just want you to know that it can be done. That you’re not crazy to wonder why it feels so hard to figure all of this stuff out and just be balanced and normal. And happy and able to soak in and celebrate life, no matter what each day brings.
Because that is actually what healthy is, in my definition.
That you don’t have to stay stuck and frustrated, if you don’t want to.
And yes, it requires wanting to change.
And a willingness to stop doing the same things over and over that aren’t getting you any further along.
But that if you have those two things, that it’s possible. And a game-changer for everything that happens after it, not only for your own self, but for the impact it has on your kids and husbands and boyfriends and girlfriends, and within your own family and community.
Because its time to change the way we learn about food and it’s role in our lives.
For us, and for the next generation too. So that they don’t have to waste any precious time or years of their lives worrying or trying to figure things out the long way.
It radiates. And it’s powerful. And possible.
And all starts with you and a willingness to crack open up your world for more joy and freedom. Trusting that it’s there, and making the leap to it, instead of low-grade living.
And while there is never the right time, this next week, I’m going to share with you all the ways and the exact process that I took in my own journey. And what life looks and feels like now, on the other side. Honestly and openly, of course.
What happens next in the story? Because you know that’s not where it ends. Part 3 is coming soon.
Have you heard? The #simplyreallife 10 Day Challenge is happening now! Join in for free and get daily healthy assignments delivered each morning. Join here.