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.
By now, I’ve probably scared at least half of you off from this blog post series. Which is totally fine. Because for those of you that are still here, I’m just praying that in sharing my story so openly, you can start to piece together your own story too.
And to know that you’re not alone in maybe not having the most calm and peaceful relationship to food (at least in your own head). That’s the thing about this subject— so many of us struggle with it, but silently. In the conversations that go on in our own heads, that people on the outside can’t see.
But the impact of those thoughts are huge– they affect so much of how you show up in your own life. They affect your self-confidence and self-worth, your close relationships (oh do they ever), your body image, what you believe yourself to be capable of, your work life/home life etc.
My hope is that at the very least, this allows more open conversations to start 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 with food. Some are simple, some are neutral (oh, you lucky ones out there), and some are so complicated, it’s hard to know where to even start. But for the most part, it is not something that the majority of us have ever learned how to build and create in a healthy way.
In fact, if you are a woman between the ages of 18-45 right now, you grew up at an especially crazy time with food and marketing and diets. There are no rules as to what can be said/claimed/marketed/pushed on us.
But that’s not actually the real problem.
The real problem is that we don’t know the difference. We can’t filter helpful advice from straight up food marketing/short-term fixes because of one sad thing:
We all grew up without a stable & calm basic education on REAL FOOD, like almost every other culture of the world does and teaches from a young age.
Every single week, we’re bombarded with new studies and conflicting info about what the best way to eat is. It’s no wonder that most of us are aimlessly floating, confused, and have probably attempted at least 5 things over the course of our lives to “get healthier”, “get fit” or ” lose weight”.
All of which perpetuates a negative relationship to food, with their black and white rules. That you’re either being GOOD or BAD. PERFECT or FAILING, depending on the day. Feeling righteous and on top of the world if it’s the first, or guilty and beating yourself up inside, if it’s the second.
For some of us, it’s that we know too much and feel so limited by what that means (if you’ve ever gotten a health diagnosis, food sensitivity diagnosis, etc and you’re trying to be perfectly perfect with every morsel). For some, it’s that we know too little, and the info keeps changing.
It’s exhausting, especially over time, because most people swing back and forth between the two extremes, taking their body, and their hormones on a wild and taxing ride.
And no diet really works in real-life. Why?
1) Circumstance wise, it’s hard to be perfect all the time, while also being fully engaged in life. Aka, while also enjoying the beautiful parts of life.
2) Our bodies are all different and are constantly changing over time. There is no such thing as a “perfect” diet for all people. Diets don’t work because they encourage people to TUNE OUT and blindly follow a set of rules, vs the thing that truly helps you be healthier & happier longterm: eating real food, and learning the harder task of how to actually TUNE IN to your own body, and figure out what’s best for you.
So although I spent most of my life in denial of this– always on the search, and always trying every new trend– it scares me now to think about what might have happened, had I not made the shift away from all that noise.
Of all the time and life, and headspace and LIFE wasted on being anything other than calm and happy around food- internally and externally.
Life would be so very different than it is now. Business wise, marriage-wise, self-worth wise, and health-wise.
This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I used to be. The legitimate thoughts that used to go through my head, and how I took them so seriously, although I never told anyone else about it, and you couldn’t tell from the outside (I thought, at least). I figured it was just normal.
But truthfully, my brain was always thinking about food…..and trying to be healthy, strategizing, making deals with myself, trying not to be hungry, measuring or counting, etc.
A lot of the thoughts in my head came from a mish-mash of theories & strategies that I had picked up somewhere along the way in my reading, the fitness & health magazines, etc. I can’t even imagine how much more there would be if Instagram was around back then (seriously, this is so scary to think about). I had no internal compass around what was truly healthy, and how to tell if something worked for me (instead of just following what other cool people were doing).
They went a little something like this:
- no matter what you do, do not eat carbs. Ever.
- 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. 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 and healthy
- 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 cocktails (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. Always keep them on hand.
- bars are the best way to know exactly how much to burn later.
- carrots are too high in sugar and will make you fat.
- eat fruit as your snacks.
- 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 milk
- 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
- no meat
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 shake all those silly thoughts out of her head. And then, replace it with clean slate that’s way more simple, calm and freeing.
Back then, trying to figure out food felt like a full-time job somedays. I felt stuck and frustrated with my progress a lot of the time. It was never good enough. I was never good enough, fit enough, etc.
But no matter how ‘healthy” I ate, I still had:
- Chocolate cravings mid afternoon, needed coffee to get through the day, and craved carbs at night (although I’d try to resist them).
- Blood sugar crashes most afternoons around 3 or 4pm (when I’d crave a little treat to keep going). I was hungry all the time, and thought about food all the time.
- I’d get nervous to eat out or go over other people’s houses.
- I’d feel guilty if I missed even one day at the gym.
- And guilty if I had just one thing that wasn’t “healthy” (aka, high in calories/fat/carbs back then).
- I’d get panicky before every vacation or trip, trying to “tighten and tone things up” the whole week before.
- I no idea how to cook (I mean, really, who actually had the time?!)
- And multiple pairs of jeans in a three size range, depending on the day.
- I was mad at how easy it seemed for all of my friends.
- I was so convinced that I knew the right things to do, it was just a matter of doing it all the time (aka, trying to perfect at it).
- I’d get mad at myself anytime I fell off the wagon (aka any social occasion where I couldn’t control things).
- I would tell myself that once I cracked the code on the right way to eat and workout, THEN I could pay attention to the other things in life.
- When I felt in control enough, in a 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 that someone told me that it was the other way around.
I wish that someone told me that working on getting grounded, stable, and more joyful with food, makes everything else in life (physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually) so much easier.
I wish someone told me that my rationale was flipped upside down: that being truly healthy, is not about doing MORE, pushing harder, and getting more strict with yourself.
It’s about learning how to get quiet and TUNE IN to your own body, instead of tuning out and letting all the noise overflow into your own mind and body.
It’s about the quality of your life, and your ability to live it fully, vibrantly and with joy, in every moment. Taking care of your body, your thoughts, your dreams and ambitions, and your soul.
That you can’t separate one from the other.
And food is always the starting point. How you are with it, is how you are with most things in life.
But, back then, no one ever talked about this piece. About how food is involved and intertwined into every area of your life. A having a happy and healthy and peaceful relationship to it makes everything else so much easier.
And I mean everything. Food is connected to our whole lives.
So while we’re on the topic.
What are some of the other things I wished someone had told me?
I so wish that someone told me that eating real food is the easiest starting point, because it will never change based on a new study or fad.
That you could spend so many years testing and trying to find the perfect diet or theory on how to eat, when in reality, it’s your relationship to it, and how you talk to yourself internally, 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 things.
This is what makes it easier to finally tune in and LISTEN 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.
I wish someone told me that I wasn’t crazy to wonder why it feels so hard to figure all of this stuff out.It seemed like it shouldn’t be so hard to figure out.
That feeling more naturally balanced, energized, and without a million things in my head at all times was possible while also eating healthy and feeling and looking better than I ever had. And that I didn’t have to workout every single day, killing myself in the gym either, to accomplish the same thing.
That you don’t have to stay stuck and frustrated, if you don’t want to.
Because that is actually what healthy is, in my definition. It’s about your whole life.
And yes, it requires wanting to change and grow and learn how to do your food life better (learning to eat like a real grown woman or man, versus having a teenager mentality with food–you know, just doing whatever everyone else is, piecing together random bits of advice, and not knowing how to tune in to the wisdom all our bodies have, etc).
And, it requires 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, brain power, or years of their lives trying to figure things out the long way.
It makes a world of a different in your WHOLE life. A better relationship to food radiates. And it’s powerful. And possible.
And all starts with you and a willingness to crack open up your world to another, much easier way. Trusting that it’s there, and making the leap to it, instead of continuing any kind of low-grade and low-vibe living. Yes, even if it’s just happening in your head.
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.
What happens next in the story? Because you know that’s not where it ends. Part 3 is here.
Have you heard?! Next week, I’m doing something really fun: 5 daily mini inspirational masterclasses on the 5 surprising things that will help you create and design a healthy lifestyle and better relationship to food in more sustainable, more joyful and more vibrant way.
I’ll be popping on daily to teach quick 10-15 minute lessons that you can take and put into practice in your own life. They’re all free, and things I wish that every woman knew. Missed it? Catch the replays here.
photos by Carina Skrobecki