For as long as I can remember my mother was making home cooked meals for the majority of everything I ate.
Breakfast was a well-balanced sandwich of egg, cheese, tomato or maybe a green veggie. Lunch was mostly from a brown bag my mother prepared. Dinner was served at the table, with the family - a protein, a vegetable, a green salad, sometimes a starch and if we had dessert it was fresh fruit.
My mother knew it was important to eat a balanced meal full of whole foods and lots of veggies and she passed that knowledge on to her family through meals.
That’s how I learned. Eating that way so early helped me realize how my body felt when I ate nutritious foods vs when I didn’t.
And I ate food that wasn’t nutritious a lot.
I did it because I was bored with healthy food and I was bored with leftovers and not going out to eat a lot.
Adventure was lost when it came to food.
In college I rebelled and, like every one of my friends, my diet consisted mainly of pizza and beer. Then came the ranch phase. We all dipped our pizza in ranch dressing and it blew our minds.
IT WAS SO GOOD.
My best friend and I discovered the Frito Burrito at a taco place and I’d crave that every week (sometimes multiple times). It was a burrito with a flour tortilla and they added Fritos to it so not only did you taste the meat and cheese mixture, there was an added crunch with the Fritos.
We weren’t sure we would find something that could top that.
All these food choices seemed to not really affect me or how I felt until I was at lunch with my friends one day. They all lined up to get pizza and I followed them but found my attention turned to the salad bar.
It looked so good. There were a bunch of colors from all the different vegetables. Everything was fresh and chilled. I piled up my plate with every different item and sat down and scarfed it all. I had forgotten what fresh, whole food tasted like and I couldn’t stop.
For the next 2 weeks I ate salad. I was craving it every day.
I could wrap up my story here and say everything came together after that experience and I never wanted anything that wasn’t nutritious ever again but that would be a lie.
And it would be boring.
Who wants to never eat chocolate again? Or cake? Or queso? Not me. And I didn’t. I haven’t to this day.
What that experience gave me was a way to look at food with a different perspective.
I have stopped (and been totally fine with) eating too much of the stuff that’s not a benefit to my body. I’ve found a balance and a way to perceive food and eat healthy in a way that allows me to meet my health goals in a positive and productive way.
I don’t diet.
I don’t work out obsessively.
I find foods and workouts I’m curious and excited about and I allow that to drive my interest in staying healthy.
I don’t focus on foods I can’t have or shouldn’t eat. I look at the huge array of food that I can eat that helps my body feel its best.
I savor the flavors and enjoy that I can taste whole food without deadened taste buds.
Over time and through the ups and downs of eating the bad stuff and then the good stuff, I’ve learned to listen to my body.
If I want to eat unhealthy foods, I know the consequences and I’m mindful if I decide to do it. I know I’ll feel awful and not have energy and it could possibly affect my mood in a bad way. I could lose productivity for the next day. I could feel more out of shape and not be motivated to work out.
If I’m okay with all of those things then I’m okay to eat whatever I want.
The goal is to not beat myself up over decisions I make. Sometimes it’s worth having bad food just to taste and savor. It’s an experience that I really enjoy from time to time and for me, that’s ok.
It’s not an all or nothing thing. It’s harmony with food.
You can see my story isn’t one of extreme weight loss or eating disorders. Mine is a story of a love of food and experimenting with diets, cooking methods and ways of thinking about how food affects us and the relationship we create with it.
It’s about mindful eating and choosing foods so I don’t feel deprived while staying aware of the result of my choices.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
Choosing foods that help you reach goals instead of hindering you is a lot easier than you think. Are you ready to change your story with food and be in harmony with it?
Click below to find out more.