I often wonder how I got to a point in my life where food controlled literally my every move. I can't necessarily pin point an exact moment or an exact experience that led me down that path; it was a combination of a lot of things and what I learned from those around me. What I do know is it took a lot of time and effort to unlearn those thoughts and behaviors because switching from a diet mentality to a food freedom mentality is no easy task.
For a majority of my late teens and early twenties, food was not just food. Food was calories. Food was macronutrients. Food was either good or bad. I never simply enjoyed food because everything I ate had to be counted a certain way and labeled a certain way. When I was in this mindset, I did not enjoy any social event that revolved around food (which was pretty much all of them). I dreaded having to avoid any "bad" foods at these events, so I would eat something beforehand to avoid hunger. If I did eat a "bad" food, I would "make up" for it at the gym the next day. During these years, I was so focused on having as much will power as other dieters that I forgot how to listen to my own body.
Years of constant restriction and eating "healthy" eventually led to years of binge eating. I was still restrictive with my food choices but there were days where my body would go into starvation mode and want all the food. At that point, my binges were mostly physiologically driven; eventually, these binges were emotionally driven because I felt horrible about the fact that I had zero will power.
The issues I had with food had nothing to do with will power. Will power is not the issue when it comes to food. The issue lies in the fact that we choose to follow the words of someone else rather than listen to our own bodies. I think a lot of us know that whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, and grains help our bodies more than cake, ice cream, chips, etc. We do not need fad diets to tell us that. We do not need fad diets to tell us when and how much of these foods we are allowed to eat. (Honestly, when someone tells me NOT to eat something, it makes me want it more.)
Breaking away from a diet mentality is not easy. It is difficult to train your mind to think of food as just food when you are used to categorizing it in every way possible. It took me almost two years and a lot of personal growth and acceptance to get a place where I am at peace with my food choices and with my body.
What steps are you taking that are allowing you to shift to intuitive eating and a life of food freedom? Please share so others can take note. Please reach out if you need any help at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Insta @JessMalingowski.
Enjoy your food. It's just food.