Happy Wednesday! So, last night I wanted a quick dinner and after seeing a few inspirational dinner ideas on instagram, I came up with my own that turned out quite delicious. I boiled pasta and added butter and some spinach. And then I sauteed some tofu in a peanut sauce (basically with peanut butter, a little honey, worcestershire, soy sauce and lime juice, plus some water to thin it out), and added it to the pasta. I didn’t even take a picture but you guys…so good. In case you need an idea for tonight.
Otherwise, the week has flown by! I think the eclipse on Monday made for a weird afternoon/half day at work and now we’re just about halfway through the week. I’m just popping in today for a mini rant on the term “clean eating” after reading this article. This isn’t my first post about this topic. You can also see why I hate the term here.
When Clean Eating Becomes Dangerous
I think the term, “Clean Eating” started innocently enough, actually. It probably stemmed from people authentically wanting to be healthier, and understanding healthier food choices. And like anything, we can get so caught up in what is good and start to think that more is better.
I don’t know what it is about the term that irk’s me so much, but I think it’s a guilt ridden food. Once you start eating “clean,” it’s easy to only want to eat “clean” things. And then you’re going down a rabbit hole of labeling foods as good or bad. My point through this post is that food is food; it doesn’t need to be labeled as clean versus dirty or unhealthy. It’s nourishing to your body either way.
Like anything, obsessions can become dangerous. I have so many clients who have gone the “clean eating” route because that’s what people tell you it takes to be healthy. But, what they don’t tell you is the other myriad of problems it can lead to. This obsession with only eating clean, unprocessed, “healthy” foods, has now fueled our culture with orthorexia, overexercise, undereating, amenorrhea and more.
It’s become more of a belief system, and developed a sort of “food police” in many of our minds. But in reality, we’re the only ones policing ourselves.
You have people (some who are credentialed influencers, others who are just people you may know) telling you to cut “x” out of your diet to feel better. And they may speak from experience, as if that is the only way. Get rid of dairy, gluten, sugar, you name it, we’ve probably vilified it in the health world. You may have tried some of these things and felt miserable doing it. Or, you may have tried this and it’s helped with symptoms. I totally get that some people can’t handle or digest all foods, and those aren’t the people I’m talking about. Moreso, the people who take foods out of their diet for no reason because they have vilified it (or someone else has vilified it for them) for some reason.
You don’t need to follow any food rules.
Actually, there are no rules with food – foods are inherently judge-less and come without guidelines and restrictions surrounding them. People just choose to give them rules.
Food is just food, and no matter what you eat, it will nourish you in some way or another. Like those brownies? Yeah, they’re made with oil (fat our body needs), eggs (protein for our muscles) and flour (carbohydrates, for energy for us to live). Don’t let society psych you out about what food really is. And processed foods? They’re not inherently bad. As a matter of fact, I eat quite a few of them daily, depending on your definition of processing. The point is, if you’re eating a few here and there because that’s what happens in life, you can move on with your life and not feel bad about it.
When you lose the idea of food flexibility, or ban foods that don’t fit in your boxed idea of healthy, you’re not following healthy standards. You’ve given up your control to someone else’s rules or thoughts.
It makes eating for fun non-existent.
Food rules makes eating socially difficult. They set nearly impossible expectations for choosing meals based on how you’re feeling in the moment. Rules fuel shame when you cross the lines or choose something outside of your norm.
We avoid gluten because we think it’s inherently bad. Actually, it’s only harmful for a small amount of the population.
We ban coconut oil completely based on certain claims that make it seem like an all or nothing food.
We’ll try to cleanse and detox our systems because non-certified “nutritionists” or others tell us to – they say it’s worked for them.
We drink juices, or chew gum, to starve off our physiological hunger. The sign from our body that we’re low on fuel and need to refuel. This is a sign that we we want to trust and respect, not ignore.
Isn’t it crazy to think about examples of all the different rules out there? All of these are examples of extreme eating. None of them represent the answer.
The answer is finding that flexibility for yourself and your lifestyle. What would that look like? What DOES it look like?
I challenge you to throw one food rule out the window this week that you’ve been holding onto. It may be that you can’t eat after 8pm, you need exactly four 1-cup servings of veggies/day, or you have to exercise for 45 minutes every day. Try letting go and see how it feels. Defying the food police and giving yourself unconditional permission, as we know it in Intuitive Eating, is so freeing.
The bottom line is that strict eating and dieting is not sustainable nor natural. You’re setting yourself up for failure. Because you are human, and you’re going to want a piece of cake or some ice cream at some point. And that’s okay. Heck, that’s normal and part of life’s enjoyment.
But, the internal system of shame, guilt and fear that these food rules evoke just aren’t worth it. If you’re struggling on your Intuitive Eating journey, let me help.
Because most of all, it’s not fun.
What are some of the food rules you’ve heard or you’re trying to conquer? Let’s help each other!