Earlier today in stories I shared how I just completed a 36-hour fast. It was my first “fast”, and I had a great experience. I gave it a try for a lot of reasons – but mostly because I needed to make a “shift” mentally and physically, and it did just that.
But regardless of my experience of “fasting”, I’m nervous that sharing my story may have sent the wrong message. A message that I believe, or support, our world’s crazy diet culture and being tough on our bodies. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
So I want to take a moment to share a little bit about what is my never-ending and ever-evolving relationship with food, my body, and me.
She said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that there are two relationships, that for as long as we’re alive, will never end – One is with ourselves and the other is with FOOD, and both depend on each other.
That in order for us to be healthy and well with OURSELVES, we must have a relationship with food and our daily food habits that are healthy & well too. They intertwine.
Carmel’s idea of us being in a lifelong “relationship” with food really stuck with me and put into words exactly how I’ve been feeling. For a while now, I’ve been trying to treat ME, MY BODY and MY DIET like I would a best friend. With kindness and compassion and deep gratitude.
I don’t deny or deprive myself. I don’t torture my body. But instead, I try and listen to what I need. Listen to what my body is asking for. What it’s craving. What it needs.
And that my friends is always changing. Because I’m always changing. So what I “need” one day may not be what I need the next, and that’s ok. Our relationship with food should be HEALTHY but that doesn’t mean it has to be strict, rigorous, or black and white. It can evolve and change and have lots of grey.
I start every morning with a big healthy smoothie, except on the days I don’t.
I drink lemon water before coffee, except on the days I don’t.
I don’t eat a lot of refined sugar and carbohydrates, except on the days I do
I don’t drink a lot of caffeine, except on the days I pour myself a second cup
I’m mindful with my alcohol intake, except on days I’m not
The point is, I try and live by some basic rules, guides, of what I know serves me well, but more importantly, I allow for the exception WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.
I know that when I eat really “clean”, I typically sleep better, feel more focused, energized, and lighter. So my day-to-day diet is mostly whole-food, plant-based. But you guys, I LIVE for bread. I have a serious sourdough obsession (and with cheese and wine and chocolate). So I EAT IT AND SAVOR IT AND ENJOY IT. Because it brings me JOY. And that’s a very real thing. It’s ok to enjoy food just for the sake of ENJOYMENT. In fact, it’s more than ok by me – it’s necessary for balance.
Live by the rules, but allow and savor and enjoy the exceptions
I talk a lot about listening to your body and knowing what it needs. But there are a lot of times I’ve found myself sitting on my couch eating an oversized bowl of popcorn watching BRAVO because I was pretty sure that’s what my over-exhausted body said it “needed”. You know what I’m talking about. (I probably just needed a nap. But whatever. We can’t all be perfect.)
But in all seriousness, I’ve really been trying lately to stop myself before doing something and asking myself what the intention is. Why do I feel like I “need” this right now (glass of wine, a bowl of popcorn, fasting, whatever)?
It doesn’t mean I deprive myself of that big ol bowl of popcorn (heck no), but maybe now I’m just a little more conscious of the “why” behind it so I’m not just mindlessly making choices or putting food in my mouth.
Knowing why I’m grabbing for that cookie, why I’m eating my kid’s leftovers, or why I’m feeling like I need to pour myself a glass of wine is so eye-opening. It doesn’t mean I don’t do it. It just means that I recognize that there’s usually a feeling driving that action that probably needs my attention.
Probably the most important part of my relationship with my body and food is learning to let go of all shame and guilt. Which if we’re being honest, is really hard….for all of us.
We’ve been so trained that certain foods are “good” and others are “bad”. Certain bodies are “ideal” and others need to be “changed”. So it’s no wonder we find ourselves constantly shaming ourselves, our food choices, and our bodies. It’s a vicious cycle. That we all need to put in the effort to change. Starting with the way we shame ourselves after enjoying certain foods, the language we use around food/diet, and they way speak about our bodies.
I feel like I just dumped a lot of thoughts on all of you (sorry). To be honest, I don’t know if my relationship with food is great. It’s something I’m constantly working on, and that’s definitely changing and evolving (especially as I age). And I’m sure there are a million “experts” (and even more books) that would give you different advice.
But what I do know for certain is that only YOU know what’s good for YOU. Only YOU know what food makes you feel good in your skin. What makes you feel happy and good and well. No fad diet, or food expert, or book can tell you what you need. So above all, trust your instincts and listen to your body. They are pretty magical creations that usually know a lot more than us.