No matter where you go or who you talk to, there's always someone out there that will criticize the food that you've put on your plate. But, what if I told you that the anxiety and fear that you feel around your food can actually be worse than eating something deemed unhealthy?
I have a couple of clients that eat an A+ diet. These gals are stricter about the food that they put on their plate than I am! Yet, they are struggling to lose weight and reach their fitness goals. They are eating plenty of healthy fats, lots of veggies and rarely indulge in wine or dark chocolate. So, why are they struggling to lose weight?
In Dr. Christiane Northrup's article Food Perfectionism, she puts it perfectly by saying, "The real problem for them is not the occasional piece of chocolate they might have. The real problem is forgoing the sweetness of life in an attempt to reach "perfection" and beat their true appetites into submission." According to Northrup, this is what raises stress hormones to levels as toxic as processed foods. Yes, read that again. If you have massive stress about being perfect with your food each and every meal of the day, your stress hormones are going to be off the charts. This will cause you to hold onto weight, feel boated and inflamed no matter how well you eat.
We are meant to enjoy our food. Food is what helps us rebuild our bodies, feel strong, think clearly and feel happy! Rather than be afraid of food and seek perfection in every bite, take a moment to think about how your food is nourishing you. Lets be honest, sometimes we just need that glass of red wine or ice cream. I know it's not perfect, but the stress that we can put ourselves under in an effort to stay perfect is more degrading than just eating the darn ice cream. Here's a little secret, we are not perfect!
I like to recommend that people live an 85/15 lifestyle. This means that 85% of the time, you are eating whole foods, from the earth. That could mean vegan, vegetarian, paleo or keto, just eat from then earth. Then, the other 15% of the time, enjoy your life and explore all of the amazing food options available to you in our modern age. Leave the stress at the door because if you are truly rooted in a whole foods lifestyle, a little cupcake or glass of wine here or there is NOT going to mess you up.
Now, I feel like I also must say that this is not a hall pass to go home and drink at entire bottle of wine tonight. You are better than that and your body deserves more. It's important to address the emotional side of our food too so that we can take a look into our lives and notice how our feelings are be deeply connected to how or what we eat. For those perfectionist eaters out there, what in your life seems out of control and makes you seek perfection in your food choices? For those heavy drinkers or sugar lovers, are you missing someone or something emotionally when you turn to food to satisfy you?
As you can see, our emotions and food are deeply connected. You must address both to truly find peace with your body and food. So, enjoy your food, let it satisfy your belly and your soul and tap into the emotions that come up when you eat. I'll leave you with another quote from Dr. Northrup to help you move towards finding peace and tranquility with your food and body. "Bring awareness to your stomach. That’s all you have to do. Awareness itself begins to heal the problem. No one eats perfectly all the time. You can enjoy food. You can recover from food fundamentalism. But first, you have to become aware of it."
Enjoy healthy foods because of what they do for your body and brain. Become aware of your emotions around food and address them when you eat. This is the first step towards healing your relationship with your food and truly reaching your health and wellness goals.
Sources: Dr. Northrup Food Perfectionism