Do you feel like you have a healthy relationship with food when you’re strictly eating “healthy” foods? Do you feel “on top of it” with your relationship with food when you’re avoiding all of the “junk” foods and only eating “organic” foods?
Unpopular opinion: when you’re strictly eating healthy foods you actually are NOT at your healthiest relationship with food.
Yep, I said it. You know all of those food “rules” we’ve been conditioned with? The ones that say:
- Don’t eat past 7 PM at night.
- Don’t eat any bigger meals after 5 PM.
- Don’t go back for seconds.
- Only buy organic fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t eat snacks in between meals.
- You’ll ruin your appetite if you eat too close to a meal.
- Make “healthy” desserts instead of eating ice cream, cookies, etc.
And these are only a fraction of them. Do they sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, these “rules” only set us up for an unhealthy relationship with food—not a healthy one. If you read my last article, I want to reiterate that it is OKAY to make food choices that help you FEEL your best physically. However, if you’re just following these rules because it’s what you were taught to do or it makes you feel better emotionally about your relationship with food, then it is not healthy. For example:
Physically: If not eating past a certain time helps you sleep better or helps your stomach not get upset, then it’s healthy and okay to make that choice for yourself.
Emotionally: If not eating past a certain time is something that you’re doing just because it’s what you were taught; or you were told it would help you lose weight; or you feel guilty when you eat past a certain time, THEN it is not healthy to make that choice.
Are you starting to see the difference between physical and emotional decisions regarding foods? If you feel better physically eating a healthy dessert like ice cream made of frozen bananas instead of “regular” ice cream, then go for it! But the real point here is that I want you to be okay with eating real, “regular” foods, at whatever time of day, without the false guilt setting in just because of some “rule” that you’ve been conditioned with.
It is OKAY and HEALTHY to eat foods that maybe aren’t labeled as “healthy” or the most “nutrient-dense.” Want to know why? Because restrictive eating is 100% unhealthy. When you’re following all of the rules because you want to have a healthy relationship with food, or you want to be your healthiest physically, or you want to lose weight, what you’re really doing is restricting your relationship with food. Instead of building a healthy, loving relationship with food, you’re putting rules around it and you’re setting yourself up for failure. When we restrict our food intake and don’t allow ourselves to eat the foods we love, at some point we will start to resent food, we will start to eat unhealthy amounts of said foods we restricted ourselves from, or we will start to have unhealthy eating habits and patterns.
Bottom line? Please eat and enjoy the foods you love! Stop restricting yourself from “unhealthier” foods just because it’s what you’ve been told to do.
Eat when you’re hungry, and stop with the rules of when you’re “allowed” to eat.
All of our bodies are different. All of us respond differently to different foods. But ALL of us deserve to have a healthy relationship with food, to enjoy our food, and to feel good—physically and emotionally—on the foods that we eat. Remember, you are not alone and food is your friend!
Abby Horst Mallard
A podcaster, wife, health/wellness coach, beach lover, and musician. She specialises in nutrition education, meal planning, and developing sustainable habits. She passionately works with her patients to help them build healthier and happier relationships with food, exercise, and themselves.
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