Welcome to the third installment of my Thursday blog series called Free Fitness. Here are the links to the first two posts in case you missed them.
Today I am discussing the importance of not setting ANY food rules. While they seem like they would be helpful, they aren’t and only make things worse. So what do we do instead?
Get your cup of coffee and pull up a chair. This is a long one.
No Rules Allowed
In case you are new to the blog, I dealt with anorexia and then bulimia for a whopping 17 years. During that time, I heard many times over that dieting never works but I just couldn’t let go of all of my “rules”. How could I? I was always either on track (well, what was “on track” in my mind) or binging. I had to keep it together somehow! There was no way I could just let go and eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Little did I know, that was exactly what I needed to do.
Why No Rules?
When we feel out of control with food, we do the only logical thing…we attempt to control it. But trying to control our eating habits is the best way to end up completely out of control. How many of you have experienced this exact scenario? You gain weight, so you go on a diet. This works or doesn’t work for a bit. After a few weeks or months of dieting, you eat your whole pantry and then some until you literally can’t move all the while thinking about how you will start a brand new diet tomorrow. The next day is a new day! You begin a new diet or just try the same diet all over again. You start “Day 1” all over again and stay “on track” until you end up binging on your pantry again, and the cycle starts over. And if you are like me, the times between binges keep getting closer and closer together.
The good news is, there is hope! The bad news is, it’s sure hard to find it because there are so many diets out there claiming they are NOT diets. Has anyone else noticed that almost EVERY single diet plan out there these days states that it isn’t a diet? If it restricts anything; certain foods, food groups, or portion sizes (yes portion sizes), it’s a diet.
I know what you are thinking because I thought too.
“Well, I can’t just throw caution to the wind and eat however much I want of whatever the heck I want! I’ll get even fatter!”
Look, you have to be honest with yourself. Between you and me, we know that you end up eating the off-limits stuff anyway, right? Eventually, you give in and eat it. A LOT of it. Or maybe it’s not junk. I had eventually gotten to the point where I ONLY ate “clean” foods, but because certain foods were fewer carbs or calories than others, I ended up binging on healthy food! But a binge is a binge, and I swear the healthy food binges are way more uncomfortable. Fiber in large amounts does not sit well at all. Haha!
So how do we have our cake and eat it too?
Believe The Fact That It Is OK To Eat Your Cake
Right now, DROP EVERY FOOD RULE YOU HAVE EVER MADE FOR YOURSELF.
Forget every diet you have ever tried. Forget it all. If you truly have an intolerance to something, of course, don’t forget about that but I urge you to be honest with yourself about whether your intolerance is in your head or if it is real. I am by no means belittling intolerances to gluten, dairy, etc. I know people who have true intolerances and how miserable life is for them when they not managed. But I do know that “faking intolerances” is a trick that one with disordered eating may use as a means of control. Don’t forget, I spent many years doing so.
Now, this is obviously easier said than done. There is a blue million (my dad’s term) programs and plans out there trying to convince you that their way is the right way so that you buy into their plan and they make money. If you are an expert dieter like myself, you know that for every plan or program, there is another one to contradict it. They all have “scientific backing”. They all have success stories. If we all took the advice of every one of the programs and plans saying they were the best, we would die of starvation because we wouldn’t eat anything.
I said all that to say that getting your brain back to “zero” is not easy and will take some time. But here are some things to remind yourself of each time you eat…
- I eat food to sustain life.
- I eat food for energy to live life.
- I eat food because I enjoy it.
The last one is the one we have all forgotten. Food is meant to be enjoyed. If God didn’t want us to enjoy food, why would He make it taste so good? We have totally lost the ability to enjoy food because we are all so busy trying to control it!
It is OK to eat cake. It is OK to eat pizza. It is OK to eat cookies. It is OK to eat chips and dip and candy. It is ok to drink hot chocolate and have the cocktail or whatever it is that you have been wanting to eat, but the feelings of guilt and shame have sucked all the joy from.
Why Is It OK To Eat These Things?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
Jesus is God. He knew the past and the future. When He spoke these words, He knew what we would be eating in 2018. If it wasn’t ok to eat certain things (even Little Debbie cakes), don’t you think He would have mentioned that in an exception? Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body. That is for the future generations. No! He said DO NOT WORRY about what you will eat or drink!
But isn’t sugar and junk food killing us and making us fat?
We all have an appointed day that we will die. Friends, it doesn’t matter if you eat donuts and hot chocolate every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If God’s plan is for you to die in a car accident when you are thirty, that is what will kill you. If His plan is for you to live until one hundred and die peacefully in your sleep, nothing will kill you until then! It wouldn’t be wise to eat donuts and hot chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. You would likely feel terrible and have tons of cavities.
But won’t sugar and junk food make us fat?
Not if the number of calories in the junk and sugar you are eating doesn’t exceed your daily energy expenditure.
See! I need to worry!
No. You need to eat exactly what you want.
Cookies For Lunch
We all know I love cookies so I will use them for my example. 🙂
Look, when we drop the guilt and shame and allow ourselves to have whatever we want, we end up satisfied. It takes a bit of practice, maybe a lot of practice. But when you get it, there is nothing like the freedom of eating like the “normal” people you have watched during your years of bondage.
This is how you start. When it is lunchtime (or whatever time you get ready to eat), think about what you really would like to eat. Anything! What is it? Eat that. If that is cookies, then eat cookies for lunch.
At first, you will feel really guilty. But remember that there is nothing to feel guilty about! It is 100% OK for you to eat cookies for lunch.
Do not be afraid. Eat until you are satisfied. But you have to remember one very important thing, it is OK to have cookies for lunch tomorrow too, or the next day or the next day after that. It’s 100% fine. It is THIS thinking that will eventually keep you from eating ALL the cookies.
When I first began eating this way, if I wanted cookies for lunch (which happened often) I would have maybe five or seven cookies with coffee as lunch. In the beginning, I felt a little guilty but guess what? Nothing bad happened. When the next came, I didn’t eat all healthy things because I ate cookies the day before but instead got to have fun deciding what I was going to eat just like the day before. NOTHING was off limits!
If you need something to make you feel better, read this article. I love sharing it because all of these people who live to be over one hundred lived in food freedom. No one had and strict regimes. It just goes to show that Matthew 6:25 is spot on. Do not worry!
Things to Remember While ENJOYING Cookies For Lunch
Here is a list of things to remember to help you squash the guilt and continue on being free from bondage to food rules. Go back to it again and again so that it becomes your new normal.
- I am thankful to God for blessing me with _______. (Cookies, pizza, french fries, etc.)
- This food is not harming my body.
- Sometimes I want junk. But many times I want a healthy meal. This meal does not define my diet.
- If I want _______ (cookie, pizza, french fries, etc.) for lunch (breakfast, snack, dinner, tomorrow) I will eat it!
- If I feel guilty or shameful after eating this meal, I will remember that the guilt and shame are just FEELINGS they are NOT facts. I will not believe them.
*IMPORTANT- Give yourself grace when practicing this. If you end up eating all the cookies or too much of whatever it is, it is very important to not diet the next day but to allow yourself cookies for lunch again. You spent many years developing the deprivation way of thinking. It will take some time to change your mind.
I know for many of you reading this all seems absolutely reckless. I promise you it’s not and when you practice allowing yourself to eat without any limits that after a while, you won’t even want indulgences every day and an amazing balanced approach to food will be your normal. But don’t think about that now. You just have to be patient and trust God that you do not have to worry.
Need someone to pray for you in this? I will! Just let me know in the comments or in a message, and I promise I will.
Blessings to you!
Stay tuned every Thursday for more Free Fitness posts. Next week’s topic is portions sizes! *Spoiler alert: Your friend’s portion size is not YOUR portion size. Keep your eyes on your own food. 🙂