When I was going through my dieting phase, I literally thought about food all day (and not in a good way). I thought about every little ingredient that went into the recipes I tried. I thought about every calorie and macronutrient that I planned on consuming that day and the timing of it all. I’m not kidding when I say that it also took me all weekend to meal plan and prep.
At the time, I thought all of this was okay because I was trying to live a “healthier” lifestyle. I thought it was normal and that this type of thinking would keep me on the right track and help me to stay healthy.
This way of thinking did in fact work for a while. Almost all of my meals were home cooked, I was staying super active, and my body stayed trim and toned. I thought that having all of this would make me happy, and it did (for a little bit), but eventually, I got so sick of worrying about food all the time.
This is when the binges started to happen.
I lived this restrictive eating lifestyle for so long that I wanted to just give up “healthy'“ eating. How in the world does everyone else eat “clean” and stay sane?! At this point, my mindset around food was tainted by diet culture and my relationship with food was in a horrible place. I thought I could try to “balance” my food choices but this did not work. I felt too guilty when eating anything labeled in my mind as “bad” and this always led me into a downward spiral.
After a binge, I would feel a million times more guilty and would end up restricting for the next day or two until I found myself in another binge. This cycle continued for the greater part of my early twenties.
When I was finally able to get out of this restrictive and binge eating cycle (thank you therapy and IIN), I realized that constantly thinking about meal planning, cooking 24/7, and exercising 24/7 wasn’t bringing me any mental wellness. My mind was taken up by all things food related that I had no space for anything else that may have mattered to me. I was too worried about tracking calories on my phone to try a meditation app. I was too worried about planning my meals to plan my life goals. I was too worried about exercising 24/7 to enjoy a quiet night of reading or socializing with friends.
I wish my younger self would have known how much happier she’d be once she let go of the food rules that had been controlling her every move for years.
I know that you think the way to overall wellness is to track and control everything you put into your body. This may work for a while but eventually, you are going to get sick of restricting yourself. You are going to realize that even though you eat “clean” all the time, you are unhappy with your life outside of food and exercise. When you give yourself more mental space and energy to focus on the things that actually matter in life, I believe you will start living and not just existing.