One day, I found this beautiful picture on Instagram that caught my attention. It really made me think about not only how I was living in terms of my diet, but also how people generally do. I remember how people would generally respond to this question as I saw it and was really intrigued.
I’d always hear that if calories never counted, people would go nuts. They’d raid bakeries, fro-yo bars, In-n-Out, Starbucks, and sushi buffets multiplied by seven. I used to feel the same way around four to five years ago before I was healthy. Then again, I really didn’t care about calories, but if someone were to ask me this question, I’d just eat until my stomach exploded.
Now, I’ve actually found that my response is different, but believe it or not, not extremely different to how people would reply. To be quite honest, my ideal day of eating is probably only 70% similar to how I actually eat. Normally I wouldn’t eat as many carbs and fats as I would in an ideal situation. I found that when thinking about this, I often wanted whole healthy fats from eggs and avocados, as well as carbs from complex grains and fruits. It actually made me cry about how I treat my body–I’d start the day off super clean and then let loose at night. I wasn’t explicitly thinking or saying that the foods I craved were bad, too high calorie or unhealthy–but for some reason, I always picked the supposedly “better” alternative such as egg whites instead of whole eggs, berries instead of apples, sweet potatoes instead of toast, etc.
With this being said, I’m really going to make an effort to carefully listen to my body. Intuitive eating is actually very hard. Sometimes you question if your hunger is actually thirst/boredom/stress, or if your craving is legitimately a nutrient deficiency. It’s not easy to trust your body when there are calorie counts, ingredients lists and nutritional labels that tell us what’s good and what’s bad. Your body will wire itself depending on what you put into it. A little bit of corn syrup isn’t going to kill you or make you fat, nor will a slice of pie or bowl of mac n’ cheese.
But in all honesty, I love to eat healthy. No, I would not go to town and binge on pizzas, ice cream, donuts, french fries, etc., because I don’t feel the need to. I can easily make healthier versions at home such as this cauliflower pizza crust or almond meal cookies. I just don’t think it’s right to discriminate within the “healthy” realm just because of a widely held stigma. What doesn’t work for some people may work for you–it might even be what you need for sanity. Even though a lot of the bloggers/gurus I look up to avoid gluten, biting into my first whole wheat pizza crust for a while brought me such a joy I couldn’t even explain. It was like gaining a sense of freedom and fulfillment–I didn’t need to stay away from gluten to be healthy because I’m not even born with celiac disease. It’s not very friendly to my skin, but still. (Of course, many gluten-laden foods are quite unhealthy and I would still stick with whole grains if those are an option)
So are you ready to challenge yourself? Here’s what I suggest if you feel as if you have a disordered relationship with how you eat, whether you fear certain foods, or you just eat everything you see without caution. Get to know hunger, thirst, and appetite. Hunger occurs in the stomach and the brain–if your stomach is rumbling and your brain is foggy, then eat something. If you’re energized, sharp and focused, you don’t need to do anything.