I eat bread. I eat ice cream. I really like pizza.
At the same time, I really enjoy breaking a sweat. And I like fruit and vegetables. And salad.
I drink lots of water. I don’t drink soda. But I do like iced coffee and sweet tea.
I finally understand that, for me, balance is more important that being an extreme fit person or an extreme donut eater.
To love yourself as a whole person means to nourish, sustain, and care for not only your physical body but also your mind and soul.
Restricting my favorite foods tends to make me moody and a tad miserable, but over-indulging on sugar and pizza oftentimes leave me lethargic and bloated (let’s be honest).
I really like an iced coffee with caramel swirl from Dunkin Donuts, I’m not opposed to caffeine, but I probably drink about 70 ounces of water a day.
It’s a fact of life: when I eat well, I simply feel better – with more energy and a better ability to focus. And that’s marvelous news. But, when I eat my favorite foods (that wouldn’t be put in the ‘clean eating’ category), I also feel good.
It’s taken me a long time to get to this place.
A place where I recognize that a healthy, good attitude towards food is as important to me putting nutrition in my body.
When I was running track in college, we/they were obsessed with our food intake, light on the sugar and processed foods. If you have a specific purpose or goal, and this is your strategy, power to you! That can be wise. But after that chapter of my life was closed, I realized how exhausted I was from obsessing over every single meal.
A helpful perspective for me in the day-to-day is the small choices. If I know I’m going to want dessert after my lunch at work, I won’t eat a huge meal (or I’d be asleep by 3pm). If I know I want to add an extra mile to my run this weekend, I need to fuel myself well so I have the energy and attitude to accomplish it.
These days I give myself more grace, but still try to be disciplined. I genuinely enjoy a well-made salad, but if you’re offering cookies and cream ice cream for dessert, I hardly ever say no. On the other hand, if I’m craving a big juicy burger and fries, I probably won’t feel up for dessert. Not because I’m against sugar, but because I’d rather savor the burger and fries and not smother it with excess calories.
Being conscious and thoughtful with the small choices keeps me happy and healthy.
I don’t make extreme decisions anymore, to never have a chocolate chip cookie or handful of salt and vinegar chips (my favorite) – my cravings would be off the charts and I’d probably be mega moody. But I also don’t over-indulge on the foods considered ‘bad’ because they would lose their fun, and wouldn’t taste as good.
In the diet community, you’ve probably heard that the answer is willpower. “Ignore those cravings, eat a carrot” or “Mind over matter, go work off that cupcake.” Sometimes that is wise advice, I’m not discounting it.
I personally have learned that I am one whole person. My heart, mind, soul, and body are all one person. Seems like a silly + simply statement, but if I’m mentally stressed out because I can’t enjoy the occasional cookie, the rest of me is affected. Then again, if my body needs real, whole nourishment and I emotionally want Zaxby’s and Bruster’s, there’s a problem.
I’ve learned to listen to my body, and make choices that are appropriate, helpful, and enjoyable at the moment.
Loving myself best means balance.
This isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! I believe it’s all about finding YOUR balance. It might look different than mine.
I can say, with a happy dance, that I’ve finally found a happy relationship with food.
Maybe this can spark a new perspective for you?
PS – All of these images are the work of Death to Stock, a great place for lovely stock photography.