Nutrition is not meant to be binary. Ones and zeros. Black and white. Good and bad. Clean. Cheat. Strict. Splurge.
Clawing and tugging at our emotional eating heartstrings, these words play with our minds and elicit a response of either joy or guilt. They may even foster a little hate towards ourselves for eating “this” instead of “that,” even though we know eating “that” is better for us.
Why do we beat ourselves up like this?
May you please also define what’s “better” for us?
Define that guilt you want to lay upon someone for eating a certain way. Please, keep walking around with that superiority complex that you wear so proudly like a badge of honor because you eat organic, “clean,” and avoid all sugar. Go ahead, show everyone how much better you are than them. Maybe that makes you feel better… but, in the process — whether you realize it or not — you’re marginalizing everyone else around you unless they eat exactly like you.
That’s no fun.
How dare you try to force the feeling of guilt onto someone for eating a certain way. You likely don’t know their story, their background, their emotional ties to food, and you certainly don’t know if they can even afford to eat organic or grass-fed, let alone put food on the table for their family. How about you drop everything you think you know about nutrition right now, and you just listen to their story.
Truly listen to them, and start with where they are.
Meet them where they are.
That’s what you should do when you care about their well-being and only have their wellness in mind.
Food is so much more than what can be captured in a single word, especially if those words embrace negative connotations. With negativity, often comes negative emotional responses. How about we do our best to avoid that going forward? Can we at least agree on doing that?
Yes, there are foods that are more nutritious for us because they’re nutrient-dense and brimming with all of the vitamins and minerals we need to sustain life and make it more vibrant. But, since when did an occasional splurge in moderation ever hurt anyone?
Since when does walking the middle road between extremes ever hurt anyone?
Today, try embracing that middle road. The middle road loves balance and moderation. Try to find that balanced approach that includes eating what would be most nutritious for you, as well as something that you’re craving. Pick an apple with some nut butter as a snack. Add some freshly-sliced avocado and a hard-boiled egg to your toast. Have a small brownie square after dinner (or for breakfast — I’m not judging).
If my clients aren’t quite ready to commit to weighing and measuring all of their food in order to track their macronutrients diligently from the beginning (using the flexible eating approach outlined in my previous blog), that’s okay. Instead, I ask them to make small changes with their food choices first. (Emphasis on the word small.) This often starts with them incorporating nutrient-dense foods into their meals on a regular basis (this includes vegetables, fruits, and lean meats or plant-based proteins). Then, they start to incorporate foods they often enjoy — in moderation, of course. This act alone is so freeing for them. It allows them the opportunity to realize on their own that they can have the foods that they enjoy while still eating nutrient-dense foods. This is beyond empowering for them!
So, start with your next meal: ask yourself what choices you can make to include more nutrient-dense foods in that meal. Then, pick something that you often crave, and include (a moderate portion of) that food in a meal later on in the day. Make small choices that have a huge impact on your health. For me, I often enjoy a piece of dark chocolate or some frozen yogurt before bed, and I find having that balance in my day keeps me happy and not feeling like I was missing anything. Deprivation is the breeding ground for failure, so why deprive yourself? Unless you’re making temporary sacrifices to make a weight class for your sport, or are prepping for a bodybuilding or figure competition, there is really no reason to deprive yourself of anything.
Try to make small choices that have a huge impact on your health.
As long as you’re eating nutrient-dense foods at most (or all) of your meals, that brownie (and the sugar, gasp!) won’t have any major impact on you other than keeping you sane — keeping you sane from the clawing and tugging of these binary words that are ingrained in our vernacular.
Eat the damn brownie.
Enjoy your life a little more.
And don’t you dare let anyone try to make you feel guilty for it, including yourself.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?
Interested in learning more about flexible eating and how to tell your feelings of guilt to shove it? Comment below or email me, and I’d be more than happy to help you make sense of it all.
If you’re interested in having your macronutrients personally calculated for you to meet your goals, or having a customized nutrition plan built just for you and paired with attentive coaching, then check-out my Services page first to see what I offer. Message me and we can arrange a time to chat for a free consultation.