It’s human nature to put a label on things in an attempt to simplify complexities. Here’s why eating shouldn’t be one of them.
We’re immersed in a culture where healthy eating messages are prevalent. From fear-mongering documentaries about how our meat is processed to learning in middle school that sugar is “bad”, we live in a society where our education of healthy eating is portrayed as black-and-white.
In reality, there’s a lot of room for gray.
Here are a few reasons why our relationship with food is not something that’s clearly defined.
1. Healthy is so much more than what you put in your body.
Despite how many people have told you “you are what you eat,” that just isn’t entirely true. It’s a funny phrase to say, but it can be harmful to our minds, causing us to believe that eating one unhealthy item will directly cause us to be “unhealthy”. That type of obsession with healthy eating, or orthorexia, is far worse than one cookie will ever have on your health.
“Healthy” is composed of having not only a healthy body, but a healthy mind as well. It’s about not preoccupying your mind about what you should and shouldn’t eat, not feeling guilty for indulging, knowing that perfect eating isn’t possible, and recognizing there’s room for all foods in a healthy diet. It means dealing with your emotions without using food, and not using food as your only coping mechanism. It’s having grace with yourself and remembering that each time you eat is a time to tune into what your body needs.
2. Accept that your imperfection is totally normal.
There’s no such thing as “perfect” eating. End of story. Yes, that girl you follow on Instagram with her beautiful smoothie bowl and daily dose of homemade bone broth may have you thinking that people can eat “perfectly”, but it’s all a facade. As much as we all love to look at a beautifully laid out meal of nutrient-dense ingredients and superfoods, the reality is that your typical everyday eating isn’t perfect by any means. And that’s OK.
Enjoy all foods in a balanced way, even the foods that may not be as nutritious as others. Remember, there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, and eating certain foods doesn’t make you moral or immoral. Let go of the idea that “perfect eating” is possible.
3. Stand firm in what feels good to you.
Even when everyone around you may be talking about the latest diet they’re on or their “results” from the cleanse they’ve been doing, stand firm in what you know is right for you. You know what healthy feels like to you, and recognize it looks different for everyone. You know that a life of dieting is not sustainable or healthy, so you choose balance. You choose foods that make you feel good, knowing there are times when that may look like a slice of carrot cake, while other times, it’s a loaded nutrient-dense salad. All of your decisions about how you eat are driven by one factor: your own intuition.
We’re often misled to believe that we can’t trust our bodies around food and eating. However, when you allow yourself that flexibility, you’ll find that a gentle approach to nutrition is what your body craves in the long run. Rest assured in the fact that your body will take care of you,
And you can trust it.
Adapted from the original article.
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Victoria Yates, RN is a Registered Nurse & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor based in Westchester, NY who focuses on helping women reach a healthier relationship with food and their bodies. She is passionate about guiding others reprogram negative thoughts around food and body image so they may experience a truly joyful life. Learn more about Victoria Yates Nutrition.