Stop making a big deal about what you eat

There was a time in my life when I would spend every waking moment thinking about food. What I would eat, when I would eat it, and how much protein I could get per meal. Simply put, I was obsessed. And honestly, I would tell anyone who would listen what my plan was and how damn awesome I felt about it (spoiler alert, I didn’t feel really great).

Here’s the thing. If you create the program or plan to follow a big cause, it becomes THAT what you do. Because of its nature as a “thing,” it naturally has a beginning and an end. If any of the following sounds familiar, read on.

“I eat low carb so I can lose weight.”

“We plan to do keto this summer.”

“I fast intermittently, but I take a break to enjoy the vacation.”

As a health coach, I can empathize with those of you who really believe it’s a big deal. At long last, You change your eating habits, you share your newfound wisdom with friends and family, you march down the street to a better you. It’s exciting, I see. Especially if you think you’ve found the secret weapon that will help you reach your target weight or target pants.

Why you are obsessed about food

For a reason it is because food is everywhere. At home, on our social media feeds, at social gatherings, weddings, funerals, you name it. This is how we celebrate, pity and treat each other when we feel bored, happy, sad or stressed.

And when we decide to follow a meal plan that has certain rules in place (i.e. 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day), this suddenly becomes all we think about. Imagine how much energy is wasted planning and talking about food!

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Seriously, how many times have you been in a situation where you proudly declare that you don’t eat bread? Or that you’re sugar free. It’s like a badge of honor. Diet culture tells you that if you follow strict eating rules, you can be sure of three things:

  1. You belong and fit in with it
  2. You are in control
  3. You will receive a confirmation

You’ve likely spent a lifetime bombarded with flawed beliefs about good health. These messages tell you that moderation shouldn’t be easy. The food should always be judged and controlled. And that limitation is the price you have to pay to keep yourself from feeling fat, foggy, and tired.

How personality matters

There is a term called orthorexia nervosa that describes what happens when health conscious people go too far. According to Dr. Steven Bratman, the holistic doctor who coined the phrase, is about being extremely fixated on eating the right things and avoiding the wrong things at all costs, which ultimately affects your mental, social, and physical wellbeing.

Following strict rules can place you in this category depending on your personality. In this study of 459 college students, researchers looked at whether orthorexia nervosa could be predicted based on the demographic variables of gender and BMI, as well as the personality variables of self-esteem, narcissism, and perfectionism.

After participants completed online questionnaires about healthy eating behaviors, problems related to those behaviors, and positive feelings related to those behaviors, the researchers concluded Men with a higher BMI, as well as men and women with characteristics of narcissism and perfectionism, were more likely to develop disordered thinking about food.

5 Ways To Make Good Health Effortlessly

When you’re tired of shouting from the rooftops, remember this: if you don’t feel the need to ponder your eating habits, you never need permission or ask for forgiveness. You will never have a cheating day. And you will never fall off the car. Sounds good? This is how you do it.

  1. Leave the “all or nothing” setting behind. If you’ve ever decided to eat healthy again tomorrow because you are * ruined * today, you know what I’m talking about. The all or nothing attitude is another way that perfectionism stands in the way of progress. Life is not black and white. It’s full of ups and downs and inconsistencies. Instead of feeling very strict or guilty all the time after you’ve eaten a cookie, be comfortable in the gray area because that’s where real life happens.
  2. Keep the big picture in mind. When you’re constantly counting calories, following macros, and expressing disgust for bread, it’s easy to lose track of what you really want. Take a step back and see your situation from a different angle. Would you like to micromanage your food at every meal? Or would you rather be out there enjoying life and not worry if you put an ounce over your carbohydrate intake for the day? Have a little faith in yourself and in the process.
  3. Eat to support your body. If you knew how hard your body was working to support you, you would treat it like the miraculous organism that it is. An effortless relationship with food means that when you are hungry, react with food until you are full. It’s not a sign that you should hold back on your next meal as you run out of macros. Also, just for your information, it does not mean that you are being unkind to your body if you eat something that you normally think is unhealthy.
  4. Check your belief system. Society teaches us that happiness is conditional, which means that once we hit our target weight or get the right job or partner, we can be happy wherever we are in life. This is a limiting belief that is sure to get in your way. The stories we tell ourselves create our unconscious reality. So if you have thoughts like, “I have to do paleo so I can be thin” or “Keto is the only way to lose that muffin top” or “Bread is the enemy” I’m just hurting myself. This is your friendly health coach reminder that you are just enough as you are. You don’t have to squeeze all the carbohydrates out of your day or break the world fasting record to prove you’re worthy of being part of it.
  5. Have self-compassion. When you have a kinder attitude towards yourself, you can better decide what is best for your body. Research shows that the more understanding you can be, the better motivated you to eat well. Not only that, it often keeps you from getting off the rails, which can happen when you feel like you have failed in some way. Self-compassion (and a forgiving and curious mentality) will help you eat more mindfully so that you don’t have to label what you do or how you eat.

Is What You Eat A Big Deal?

Everywhere you look people are screaming for food. So yeah, it’s hard not to make a big deal about what you eat. But what if you traded all of the obsession, micromanagement, and feelings of guilt and shame for something a little more effortless? That could be just as rewarding. Follow the steps below:

  1. Leave the “all or nothing” setting behind
  2. Keep the big picture in mind
  3. Eat to support your body
  4. Check your belief system
  5. Have self-compassion

Do you have anything to add? Go ahead and share in the comments below.

About the author

Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish loving and trusting relationships with their bodies – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.

If you are passionate about health and wellness and want to help people like Erin for their clients every day, you should consider becoming a certified health coach yourself. In this special information session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson, you will learn the three simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in a maximum of 6 months.

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