When you ask me “Are you allowed to eat that?” or “Dang, you’re going to eat all that?” do you feel empowered and entitled, or do you actually want to know? Because from the tone of voice, most of the time, it seems like the former.
…and as I chuckle with slight apathy for your implied opinion about me and my long-developing relationship with food and don a superficial smile and politely respond “Hah, yeah…”
I actually want to say “Well, I’m already eating it… after taking a lactaid for this cheese I can’t typically digest… but YES–I’m ‘allowed’ to, MOM. Am I going to get ratted out now because I’m eating food that you don’t think aligns with your expectations of a person who still values health and fitness despite a single food choice?”
The image above is a personal pizza from Pequod’s Pizza–a local pizza joint where I grew up in a Chicago suburb. On my birthday this year, I went to get this delicious, maybe even gluttonous, dish… and it is the freaking. bomb. if you like deep dish pizza.
Despite the fact that I’m lactose-intolerant, and I just don’t feel that wonderful (lazy, bloated, a little inflamed, riding the struggle bus during a training session the next day) after eating something like this, I do enjoy it every so often, as I’m sure some would.
Now as a nutrition coach, the point of this article is not to say that you can eat deep dish pizza anytime you want, suck it up to feel a little off, and expect to live a pretty healthy life. NO. There is SO much more involvement with education, coaching, support, practice, application, providing feedback, and communication that goes into my work with my clients, and this article is not a one-off to give out free passes to anyone to just go ahead “eat whatever, whenever”
However, I’m not a coach that believes that policing, criticizing, or judging anyone for the food choices they make is the way to go about creating habit, mindset and lifestyle change.
FURTHERMORE, as a human being, I can completely empathize.
Whether you have specific fitness-related or sport-related goals, or are even just trying to be more health conscious, sometimes we simply want to enjoy a meal that satisfies their flavor palette every once in a while, as a mental and emotional break from the monotony or routine of the usual well-balanced meal from whole foods (lean protein, veggies, healthy carbs and fats).
It’s called finding balance and re-creating a mindset and in turn, a lifestyle.
I used to come from a place where I used food as a means to cope or reward myself. Some very short-winded examples of this could be:
“I ate X, Y, Z (probably salads, smoothies, very few nutrient-dense meals) all week long, and since I’ve dropped a couple of pounds (probably water weight), I am TOTALLY going to go out for X, Y, Z this weekend because ‘I deserve it.‘”
“I just spent so much time doing tasks X, Y, Z, and…holy CRAP am I hungry (stress). Ugh, and I still have so much left to do… (anxiety) How are there not enough hours in a day?? Why didn’t I plan ahead?? (anger/frustration) It’s fine–I’ll just order for takeout this time, but next time FOR SURE I’m going to do it right. Ugh, damnit. (self-depreciation)”
But things have changed. My mentality has shifted. My life has changed.
Yes, I can eat this.
And no, it’s not because I am trying to find comfort or because I feel like I have ‘deserved’ it.
I can eat this because I have a healthier relationship with food today.
I can eat this because I have control over my food choices upwards of 80% of the time.
I can eat this because after this, I can very easily go back to eating well-balanced meals.
I can eat this because I understand what role food plays in my life – a source of energy, nutrients, a means of living and thriving.
I can eat this because I understand how much food I need to be successful – in my work, fitness, my mood and in my life.
I can eat this because I track and log my food intake 80-90% of the time, which I have proved to myself that a consistent, committed approach will win over a perfectionist approach.
I can eat this because I have the knowledge to understand its impact on my body (and mind) and that one food choice does not define or change who I am or how hard I have worked to be where I am.
Thank you to a friend of mine who brought this conversation up with me yesterday. As I learn more about others through their fitness journey, it sheds light on a lot of the deep-rooted past of my developing relationship with food.
If you’re interested in chatting about yours, or just want to learn more about habit, mindset or lifestyle change regarding daily nutrition, feel free to fill out this pre-assessment form on my coaching page. I look forward to learning more about you!