For years I was militant with my eating. I knew exactly what I was going to eat and when I was going to eat it. I had this image of what a “perfect eater” was and did my darndest to live up to that. And can I tell you what? That SUCKED. It was stressful, isolating, and so boring. I couldn’t imagine going through the rest of my life like that, which the motivator for me to improve my relationship with eating.
After finally making peace with food after years of disordered eating, I’ve relearned what it means to feel enjoyment from food. Free from any food rules or restrictions, I now find enjoyment from both a fluffy cupcake as well as a crisp carrot with hummus. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
I’ve learned to enjoy “healthy” foods rather than see them as what I “should” be eating. For instance, I always ate things like salads, raw veggies, or a piece of fruit because I viewed them as “good” foods. I was so caught up in the fact that they were what I felt like I “should” eat that I never took the time to TASTE them. Moving out of autopilot allows you to view and taste these foods differently. Tasting a fresh veggie versus being forced to eat one is a completely different experience.
I enjoy desserts more, but consume them less often. When I was restrictive with my eating and I “allowed” myself a treat, I scarfed it down! Ten minutes later I wouldn’t be able to describe to you what it actually tasted like. Now, when I want a cupcake, I enjoy the full experience down to the last bite. This is because I allow myself to eat one whenever I want. They are not off limits, so there is no scarcity or worry that “Lord knows when I’ll see one of those things again, so I better get that thing in my belly fast!”
Overeating is okay. The other night I got a nice, large ice cream cone. It was a lemon-vanilla twist and tasted divine on a hot summer day. I felt pretty full when I was done and maybe ate a little more than my body needed. Guess what? I’m alive and kickin’ today, did not gain weight, and had a super fab run the next morning from all of the available energy my body had. Our bodies are smart suckers. They’re able to notice when we give them extra energy and will correct that with either extra activity or adjusting your hunger level accordingly, if we listen.
I am able to enjoy food related social situations. Rewind 2 years and I would have avoided a backyard barbecue like the plague. I’ve always been what you’d call a “social butterfly”(mother’s words), but when disordered eating started to take over my life I became a hermit- avoiding any and all food related activities no matter how much I wanted to engage in the social side. Now, I am able to enjoy them and actually seek them out. My quality of life has improved tenfold- I kid you not. Friends and personal interactions are good for the sole.
Food is a form of art. This one is huge to me. I’ve always loved to cook, but since learning to enjoy the end result, it has taken on a whole new meaning. I love the recipe development process, tweaking ingredients to make the different flavors pop. I love styling food and allowing it to tell a story. I love food photography and capturing different angles, lighting, and shadows. I always talk about how food serves so many purposes, and I feel like an important one to me is art.
I am happy. This one trumps them all. Overall- I am now a happy person. There was a time there when I was straight miserable to be around. Well, YEAH! I was basically like I was hangry 24-7, unsatisfied by what I actually did let myself eat. Today, I smile -a LOT- joke around, and try to always see the glass as half full. Am I al sunshine and rainbows? Of course not, no one is. But I can tell you that life is just all around more vibrant.
So, there you have it, six ways that re-discovering the joy of eating has changed my life.
Not quite there yet yourself? Visit my nutrition counseling page to learn more about working with me one-on-one!