Coming out of the ballet world I learned to recalibrate my thoughts around food.
I learned to discard of my food rules and I learned to find the joy in eating again without feeling guilty or overindulging.
Here are a few things that helped me heal my relationship with food:
1) Food is Fuel
We need to nourish our bodies. We need sustenance that is going to keep our energy levels steady throughout the day. We can't run on an empty tank or use low-quality fuel. Predominantly choose foods that will give you sustained energy throughout the day (as opposed to energy spikes and slumps) and that you also like because that will allow you to feel good and sated the entire day.
2) Enjoy Your Meal
Enjoy what you're eating. Eat slowly and mindfully. Pay attention to what you are eating. Take note of the flavors, smells, and consistency of the food. This enables you to enjoy every morsel and flavor. One way of creating this type of connection to your food is to be involved in the cooking or baking process so you can enjoy your creation that much more. This will also allow you to quality control the ingredients. For example, I love eating pumpkin bread, banana bread, and lemon sponge cake but I make them with ingredients that won't spike my blood sugar and will give me steady energy.
3) No Labels
Don't label foods as good or bad. Food is not inherently good or bad (with the exception of refined sugar).
İnstead of vilifying certain food groups and labeling food as good or bad instead use another dichotomy: steady energy foods vs fast energy foods. Fast energy foods are carbs and fruits. Steady energy foods are healthy fats and protein. And separately there are sometimes foods which don't have to do with energy. When eating “sometimes” foods we shouldn't beat ourselves up over it. Reserve those sometimes foods for certain times (low frequency if you're subscribing to the 80/20 rule or 90/10 rule), and when you have them be deliberate about it so that you can fully delight in it.
İf we view certain foods as taboo and are super restrictive of what and how much we eat we might end up overindulging and binging, which perpetuates an unhealthy relationship to food. So that's why we need to have them once in a while.
4) Treat Yourself
Treat yourself to the “sometimes” foods. Sometimes foods are what I call the foods that we have when we want a treat. They are the foods that don't give us steady energy throughout the day and could spike our glucose levels. Hence, we reserve them for only sometimes. Whether you subscribe to 80/20 or 90/10 enjoy the moments when you treat yourself. You deserve it. When you have things in moderation it makes them that much more special and when you're deliberate about having a treat here and there you can fully enjoy without feeling a modicum of guilt. I'm not into regretting foods because that zaps the enjoyment out of it.
We are human. We want to enjoy life and be happy. Part of what makes us happy is being able to enjoy meals. Personally, for me, deprivation and restriction didn't work for me and I'm happy now that I'm free from the damaging mindset I had about food growing up as a ballet dancer.
What about you? Have you felt the need to reassess your relationship with food? What's helped you? Share that we us in the comments!