Yes, I am saying you can eat whatever you want.
AND that you can be healthy while doing so.
Common arguments I hear against this:
“There’s no way it’s healthy to eat fast food every day.”
“If I eat whatever I want, I’ll never eat another fruit or vegetable again.”
“I’ll only ever eat chips and cookies if I just let myself eat what I want.”
You hear the fear in these statements? The fear that their true desires for food will destroy them. This distrust of the food goes much deeper – all the way to distrust of one’s self.
Living in a fear-based relationship food is not going to allow you to truly eat intuitively. Your desires for food will be muddied by the judgments you have against the food and against yourself.
What I am advocating for is not a free-for-all with food.
I’m not saying you should eat whatever you want, whenever you want, without regard to your body and the signals it sends. Examples of signals your body sends:
- Satiety (different than fullness)
- Thoughts about food
These are all appetite-related signals.
Our body also sends us many, many more signals:
- Vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature)
- Lab values (e.g. blood sugar, liver enzymes, kidney function tests, blood counts, electrolytes, hormones, cholesterol, etc.)
- Energy levels, fatigue
- Digestive issues (bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, stomach aches)
- Other physical symptoms such as hair loss, dry skin, bruising, infections
- This list could go on and on….
We must factor in all of these signals and “listen” to what our body tells us to help guide our eating as it relates to our health. For example, if your body is telling you via your blood pressure that it is too high, then you may benefit from eating less sodium and more potassium in the foods you choose (along with medication – many people don’t want to take meds, despite the benefit they offer). In this way you are “listening” to the message that your body has conveyed.
Limiting your sodium and increasing your potassium intake to help care for your body’s blood pressure is a VERY different mentality than dieting. Isabel Foxen Duke wrote a great article on this recently.
What I AM saying for eating and health:
- Listen to your appetite cues for hunger/fullness/satiety and your cravings for what sounds good.
- Listen to the other messages your body sends you about it’s functioning (e.g. medical tests).
- Combine your desire for food + intellect about health to eat in a way that is BOTH satisfying AND healthful.
- Don’t try to be perfect with your eating. There is no such thing. You will “fail” if you try – because it’s an impossible standard.
- Keep in mind that eating is NOT the only determinant of health. (In fact, it’s not even the primary determinant of health.) So chill out about it.
- Food is meant to be satisfying. Aim for this. Don’t force yourself to eat unsatisfying foods, no matter how “healthy” they may seem.
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