Growing up, I don’t remember much about what I ate. If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t know that I had a strong dislike for meat as a kid. Or that according to my dad I used to love raw tomatoes. The one thing I do remember is how food was treated by my parents and “adults” around me. Over the weekend, there was an article making the viral rounds about how women often talk about their bodies when they get together to eat. They talk about this “thing” they’d like to change or that fad diet their trying. And how the idea of learning to love food, enjoy food and not demonize it was a conversation not nearly enough of us were having. If I’m honest, it couldn’t be more true.
Over the last few years, I’ve had to learn how to interact with food in a new way. It seems strange that this thing I’ve had in my life for so long would hold such power over me. But for the sake of my mental and physical health, it was a relationship I had to change. Personally, I believe that there isn’t really a one size fits all diet but that we could all benefits from eating whole foods. I’ve seen people’s health transformed by eating a certain way or by recognizing that how they were eating wasn’t working for them. Inevitably, we each have to decide how to build a healthy relationship with food.
So today, I’m sharing how I went from fearing what I eat to being able to enjoy a few bites of cake, or a whole slice of it, without guilt. I hate the guilt free advertising that comes with food. We should never be made to feel guilty for what we eat or how we look. But I hope that by sharing how I’ve been able to find food freedom, it will help one of you as well. Grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine babes, we’ve got lots to chat about!
I Took Away The Rules
If you read my post about ditching the diet lifestyle a few months ago, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of counting things. For me, numbers don’t help me. Instead, I find they remove my ability to truly listen to my body and understand what it needs. I’ve counted calories and have done intermittent fasting. Both have worked for a time. But in the long run, I always found the happiness and results short lived.
So instead of living with tons of rules, I picked the ones that worked for me. More to come in a second. And I stopped letting what worked for everyone else be more important than how I felt in my own body. Everyday I write in my journal: I am healthy, strong and fit. There’s no weight attached. There’s no jean size attached. It’s just me working daily to treat my body as though I love it. However, in order to start showing myself this love, I had to learn that if I didn’t love myself in this moment at this size, it would never matter what I could or did become.
I took away the rules. No more counting. No more tracking. And no more strict 8 hour eating windows. Do I still have a fasting window? You bet. Intermittent fasting is great for digestion and helping with insulin resistance. I find I do better overall when my stomach as a solid window between dinner and breakfast. But if I wake up starving at 6 am, I’m not going to tell myself I can’t eat until 11 because that’s when my fast breaks. I will tell myself to drink water first because I know my digestion does better when it’s had a good dose of liquids first thing. It’s something I have to frequently remind myself because your girl loves coffee. Nevertheless, I ditched the rules and slowly but surely I’ve found food freedom.
I Focused On What I Was Adding To My Diet
At the time of writing this post, I’m in the process of doing an elimination diet. As someone who has spent months trying not to limit her food, it’s been challenging at times. Particularly, this week when I’ve had to cut back on the chocolate temporarily while I test my theories.
Here’s the thing. I could tell myself: Savannah, under no circumstances are you allowed to have your favorite Hu Kitchen chocolate*. It’s a tie between the cashew butter and hazelnut butter in case you were wondering. You will never find out if it’s breaking you out if you eat it so you will not eat it!
If you’ve learned anything from me by now, you’ll probably know that I do much better with the kindness approach. Encouragement goes a lot farther with me than harsh yelling. So instead of saying, you can’t have that I’ve focused on what I’m adding in. This week I’m working on adding more water.
Do I still occasionally want something sweet and naturally gravitate towards my go to chocolate in the fridge? You bet. But I also know I can solve that sweet craving with a medjool date and some peanut butter. Instead of being so wrapped up in the idea that I can’t have certain foods, I’ve focused on the amazing foods I can have or the amount of water I want to be drinking. Focusing on the positives has given me food freedom and helped me to no longer feel powerless to what I’m eating.
Leaning Into The Fab Four Lifestyle
I know that I wrote a blog post on Kelly Leveque’s Body Love ages ago. I follow her instagram, make her recipes and see the amazing things happening for her clients. Truth be told, I wasn’t ready. Kelly’s approach is a lifestyle method. There’s no crazy demonizing of food. You’re not counting anything. You have some general guidelines to fill in and meals to create: every meal has a fat, fiber, protein and a green.
Let’s be honest. It took me a hot second to get on board with the veggies at breakfast. Have you seen the standard American breakfast? Brown, sugar and more brown. It’s a vibe. But when I opted for paleo pancakes a few months back and felt the immediate sugar rush to my head, I knew I needed a change. And I finally decided to give the Fab Four life a try.
I started by saying that I would try it for a month. At the end of the month, if I felt like nothing had changed, I would try something different. However, what I was doing wasn’t working so it couldn’t hurt. And believe me when I say, it wasn’t easy. I had to work through the idea of wanting to eat things because I thought I couldn’t have them. Then I moved to saying you can have that if you want but you’ll feel better if you have a smaller amount. Giving myself the option to have anything I wanted but in a smaller portion suddenly made it all seem less appealing. I realized before I would eat all the things because I couldn’t have them or shouldn’t have so many. But saying yes suddenly took the power away.
Now, if I want it, I’ll get it. *sings Ariana Grande in head* This might be fries with my salad, dessert with dinner or an extra glass of wine. But now I’m truly enjoying what I’m eating because there’s no fear or power hidden behind my food. Finding my food freedom has given that back to me.
Recognizing Why I Was Creating New Food Habits
Years ago, when I went dairy free, it happened without a second thought. I was getting severe stomach pains and I just wanted it to stop. The why was strong enough for me that it stuck. It’s stayed strong enough that it’s still going today. Finding my food freedom and changing my diet wasn’t about finally finding a diet that would help me shed weight. My why was about more and it’s one that I’ve found strong enough to pull me back in when the tide is strong.
Healing my acne, healing my body and treating myself with love is why I chose to change my diet. Do I have goals for myself? Absolutely. But I’m not about to sacrifice my health or my sanity to lose 10 lbs. My mental health and finding my food freedom is worth more to me than what the scale says. Also, I haven’t gotten on the scale in a few years so I actually have no idea what it says.
I’ve always wanted to have a healthy relationship with food. I’ve wanted to get to a place where I wasn’t stuck on counting or tracking. I wanted to be able to eat and enjoy. I wanted to be able to walk away from a meal and be okay. Finding my why has helped me do that. It’s also been my saving grace more than once on this journey.
I stopped giving food my power
One of the biggest things that helped me find food freedom was taking back my power. The moment you stick a label on something, you give it power. When it becomes good or bad, you give it power. Yes, there are some foods that are probably going to give you a few extra nutrients and there are some that will most likely cause inflammation. But looking at everything in terms of good or bad can do more harm than good when food controls your life.
Eating a fab four diet, focusing on my why and being mindful about what I’m craving has been a game changer for me. Is it easy to do everyday? Not really. Some days, I find I’m so overwhelmed, my emotional energy is down and I need to put my boundaries back up. So I reach for habits of eating to cover my feelings. Or I get frustrated with where I’m at in the process of healing things or how my body looks. I’m human. I’m not perfect.
But I’m fighting to be my healthiest and happiest self. I know that I am worthy of the life I’m dreaming of for myself. So I focus on all the amazing things happening, the things I’m adding into my diet & enjoying, and I press on. I ask for help or text a friend. Learning to heal you relationship with foods doesn’t have to be done alone. Finding food freedom isn’t about being perfect. It’s about taking back your power and no longer letting something so minor control you. You can build a healthy relationship with food. One step at a time.
Are you on a journey to have a healthy relationship with food? Do you have any tips for how you’ve built your healthy lifestyle? I’d love to know! Be sure to leave them in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this blog post with someone you think needs to hear it. Until next time. Xoxo, Savvy
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