Potentially even on this blog but definitely in my life, I have been guilty of calling food choices/lifestyles “better” than others- when referring to my own decisions, that is. Over the last couple of years I have known (whether I incorporated it wholeheartedly or not is another story) that I want to involve foods like kale, spinach and passion fruit into my every-day lifestyle. And all the while, I have known this healthier lifestyle will only work if I, every now and then, have the happily unhealthier treat. On top of that I have been keen to exercise very regularly. These are the three main parts of my health lifestyle but there is a more mental side of it that needs to be talked about more and more.
What a lot of nutritionists have taught me (and also I have taught myself through changing my lifestyle) is that food shouldn’t be about deprivation/feeling guilty/banning what you adore. In terms of the philosophy of healthy, I really now believe that:
- You shouldn’t be judged (by yourself or others) by your food choices
- “Healthy” and “happy” should be interchangeable in this food context
- Eating healthily doesn’t have to be a “diet”
Your food choices are your food choices. Just like any other choice you make. I equally think we all benefit from choosing healthier options but something Ella Woodward says is that what works for one person might not work for another and I think this is so brilliantly true. I personally believe eating healthily helps me in so many different ways. It gives my lifestyle far more purpose than when I’d constantly be craving chocolate. However in the last month I have learnt that it’s so important not to judge yourself if you do overindulge one day or for a few days (or for however long!). My philosophy now is to either just change the guilt into positive energy to exercise and eat well, to just choose not to feel guilty (maybe easier said than done) or to make a conscious decision to change how you’re going about it.
So, a couple of weeks ago I went to a friend’s house on a Friday and there were Pringles. I told myself not to have any because as much as I don’t like crisps that much, I LOVE Pringles. Like I-eat-the-whole-tube kind of love. Then I had one. And then I had a lot more. And then on the Sunday, at a different friend’s house I had the same dilemma. Although I didn’t eat as many as the Friday I still ate quite a few. From that Sunday onward I have given up Pringles. I made the decision because I don’t just overindulge, I seriously really oopsy overindulge on Pringles.
On a really weird flip side of the “feeling guilty” argument, we have the feeling when people make you feel bad for eating healthily. It’s a weird concept but one I’ve felt over the last half a year quite a bit- one time it even lead to me binging on crisps and chocolate with my friends because I got a little bit of stick for having a salad with me. It’s the weirdest type of peer pressure I have ever been a part of and one I regret falling into. The moral of the story was that I hated eating the food and knew I would before I was chided for my food choices and so I shouldn’t have been made to feel bad by my friends’ comments. And I hopefully won’t fall into this trap again.
Food doesn’t exist to make us miserable and drown in guilt. It exists to fuel us and make us happy. I have never been one to skip breakfast (mainly because my mum’s insistence of its importance would make me feel guilty if I didn’t want to eat it) but I used to despise the meal all the same. I never got on well with cereal or any of the other commonly eaten ten-seconds-to-assemble breakfasts. I eventually learnt that you can find other options or brighten up the options you don’t adore!
Because I didn’t like cereal and porridge I’d go through packs of sugary waffles with syrup on top. I found them really yummy but I was aware of their “unhealthiness.” Now I adore breakfast. I’m a massive egg lover, adore bowls of fruit or awesome smoothies and I have conditioned myself into loving porridge with mixed berries. It is healthy to always have breakfast (it really isn’t healthy to skip it!) and by default all of your other meals and snacks. If you find a way to love different “types” of breakfasts/lunches/dinners/snacks you instantly become better at enjoying food. And that’s the healthiest mindset right there. Deprivation shouldn’t be associated with food in any way, shape or form and the happiest way I have learnt this is through realising eating healthily doesn’t mean “eating boring and terrible foods.” And this is what helps me stick to eating chia seeds and quinoa.
I don’t plan for my way of eating to ever change back to how it used to be. I plan to always adore health and healthy foods. But that doesn’t mean it’s a diet. For me, it simply isn’t a “diet” in the sense of it being a short-term (I’m not eating like this to lose weight and then go back to how I used to eat- that’s how I see the word “diet” when it’s thrown about in phrases such as “I’m on a diet”). I prefer eating how I do now so why would I give that up? The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that I FEEL better when I’m eating salads and sweet potato and lots of fruit and veggies. My mind feels happier and my body thrives far better under this way of living than from how I used to eat. And if the most important thing about food is that you enjoy it and it makes your body and mind feel good, then you should fuel it with these foods.
Although I didn’t want to centre this post around fitness, it of course, relates. I’m not working out loads in order to one day stop. I adore being fit and getting fitter and we can always get fitter! And so that’s what I shall do. And my mindset has changed in a healthy way because of the exercise I do. Instead of dwelling on what I don’t like about myself I look forward to seeing changes and congratulate myself on the changes that have taken place so far.
Working out and eating healthily work oh-so-well for me and my healthy philosophy is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
~ Kat ~