A discussion on ‘rules’ surrounding our diets and the food we choose to consume everyday. Do they have a place in our lives?
Scrolling through your Instagram feed, do you ever get the feeling you’re ‘doing food’ wrong?
I see countless bowls of oatmeal with fudge-ripple-java-chip-mocha protein powder, 16 kinds of nut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cookie dough flavored stevia, and, let’s not forget, SPRINKLES. Maybe my breakfast is too simple and bland.
Somebody just started RawTill4, so now their feed is all fruit. Should you start eating raw too?
Another one is doing a Whole 30, so goodbye grains and gluten! Even though I feel fine eating grains, maybe I should try eliminating them.
Lots of show prep going on too so the meals get stricter and stricter…smaller and smaller. Am I not actually fit if I don’t compete?
Some people only eat at certain times of the day and are careful not to combine certain foods. But I often eat fruits with starches, fruits with fats, and a ton of other supposed ‘no-no’ combinations.
Everyone is doing ‘pint party’ ice cream challenges. Maybe I’m not doing recovery right.
All the different diets and lifestyles are enough to make you question your own eating habits. Sure, you try to not be influenced by what others are doing and try to surround yourself with a variety of different eating habits so that you get a well-rounded picture of what works for different people….but at some point, you can’t help but be influenced.
It’s happened to me. And I’m pretty sure it happens to most people to a certain degree. We start to feel a little guilty for what and how we choose to eat in comparison with others. This causes us to abandon our intuition and move towards what we think we ‘should‘ be eating or doing.
I notice trends when a popular account makes a new food decision or food rule for themselves…that same habit seems to crop up among a lot of people all of a sudden. It’s sort of similar to when the media starts promoting a new dietary philosophy or health practice. Everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon and forget that the only person whose food they should be focusing is their own. What works for YOU is what matters and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that it looks different for EVERYONE.
But we’re human. We’re easily influenced and we like to ‘follow the crowd‘. Being like others makes a feel safe, it gives us comfort, but it also detracts from what makes us individuals. Individuals with different needs, wants, tastes, preferences, and desires.
Sometimes you don’t even end up following a specific diet based on what you see around you. It’s more like an arbitrary set of ‘food rules‘ that you’ve collected from here and there and now use to guide your every food related decision. Not only is this dangerous, but there is no logic behind most of the dogma we restrict ourselves with.
So here’s your permission. In regards to food….remember that you have to DO YOU. It’s simple to say and complicated to implement. But if we become more mindful of the little hangups we have surrounding food, we’ll better be able to challenge them and start really listening to the voice inside of our hearts, minds, and…stomachs.
(This next part is meant to be light-hearted! Don’t take it too seriously! 😉 )
Some FOOD RULES that need breaking, in my opinion…
You shouldn’t finish your entire plate of food. Seriously what’s the point in leaving a bite or two? Some mechanism of control, perhaps? Sometime it’s okay to finish your meal because your hungry, or simply because it’s darn delicious.
Fasted cardio is best. Most people just can’t do this. Cut yourself some slack and honor the fact your body needs some fuel before working out. Not everyone is a superhero that can run on fumes!
No carbs after 6pm. Well I’m pretty sure I would be the worst dieter ever. Most of my diet is carbs as it is and I NEVER skip my carb filled night-time snack. Don’t let other people decide when you can have certain foods.
You should eat till you’re 60% full. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Excuse me, but I’d like to eat till I am TOTALLY full. Being satisfied by your meal is the point of eating. And why eat till you’re 60, 70, even 80% full when you can be totally full and satisfied until you’re next meal. I’d rather nourish myself and not be hungry less than an hour later.
Avoid fat before a workout. I’m sorry, but some of my best workouts have come after a high fat (or as I like to say, HIGH ENERGY!) meal. Maybe it doesn’t work for some people…but I feel fine eating fats (or really anything!) before a workout.
Portion out servings before consuming. Let’s be honest. Nut butter straight out of the jar is pure bliss. Don’t deprive yourself of that joy!
Eat within 30 minutes of working out. Sometimes, life happens. Don’t be ruled by an eating schedule. Yes it’s ideal to eat within a certain window after a workout. But don’t kill yourself trying to make it happen! I don’t want you speeding your way through traffic just to make it home for your protein shake.
Only have a 1/4 of an avocado. Really? What kind of serving size is that? To me, avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can consume. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be careful because of their high fat content. Avocados are not something that you should be worrying about. You don’t need the added stress in your life.
A protein bar is all you need for a snack. Well if you know me, you know I AT LEAST eat two bars at a time…and sometimes 3. Let’s be serious, does anyone actually feel satisfied after having a 1.5 oz, two-bite energy/protein bar? If you do, more power to you! But I for one need a little more substance to my snackage.
Almond butter is better for you than peanut butter. Maybe…but I prefer peanut butter. So that makes it better TO ME. Are you really going to spend your time arguing the health merits of almond butter vs. peanut butter? Just go for what you like, folks. You’re causing yourself more harm by agonizing over the minute nutritional differences than if you just went with what you actually wanted in the first place.
Dairy and grain cause sickness. For some. But that doesn’t mean that you should exclude them just because everyone else is. I think all the food groups offer nutrients that our bodies need and want. Unless there’s a medical need, I don’t see the point of cutting things out.
Drink at least a gallon of water everyday. Or, ya know, don’t. There’s no need to water log yourself just to meet a certain quota. It’s another way that numbers can control your life. Drink when you’re thirsty…but also drink when you’re not thirsty. Make sure you’re well hydrated because it’s important not because you want the water to affect your body in a certain way or because you have to hit a certain number of ounces.
No more than one starch per meal. I think I break this rule everyday. You want pancakes and a sweet potato? Do it. Chips AND popcorn at a snack? Have at it! In the long run, it’s better to have enjoyed a meal filled with foods you love, than to feel regretful for not allowing yourself to have what you truly wanted.
Get my point? All of these food rules are silly. Some of them are things that I’ve even followed in the past. But as I’ve expanded my diet and loosened my rigidity around food, I’ve found life is so much more enjoyable when you just eat. Without all the thinking, without all the planning, without all the comparing. In the end FOOD IS FOOD. Do you want to get to the end of your life and only have been known for having self-control and discipline around your food choices? Frankly, I’d rather have had real experiences, memorable moments, and real connections. If food is part of the picture, even better! But I’m done letting it be the focal point and done judging myself based on others.
I encourage you to do the same. 🙂
And one more thing…
I know what some of you may be thinking. “Just stop following certain accounts that are a bad influence on you.” But it’s not that simple. Triggers for bad habits around food are going to be EVERYWHERE your whole life. It’s unrealistic to try to shield yourself from them at every turn. Instead, work on what you can change…yourself and your relationship with food! The less power you give food the less influence those people will have on your life. You’ll be secure and confident in your own eating choices and will be able to view other people’s diets (or at least your Instagram feed) totally objectively.
Do you notice yourself following food trends you see on social media?
What ‘food rules’ do you have for yourself?
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