Thoughts on Food Freedom (Revisited)

What images pop into your head when you think about living a healthy lifestyle?

Perhaps your mind wanders to fresh-pressed green juices, a plant-based diet, and regular yoga classes.

Maybe images of “skinny” lattes, egg white omelettes, and grueling workout sessions dance around in your head.

Or maybe it’s a leisurely meal enjoyed al fresco in the countryside complete with fresh, and seasonal ingredients and great company to go with it. (Oh wait, I think that’s one of my images ;))

Of course we all have many different ideas when it comes to living healthily, and they by no means fit so tidily into the boxes I mentioned above.

The ultimate question that matters the most though is whether these ideas serve us well in our life, or if they hold us back.

Do they feel restrictive and leave us “on and off again” a diet?

Or do they feel liberating and pleasurable, like we could live this lifestyle forever?

I talked a bit about beliefs in my post last week.

These beliefs can be so deeply ingrained that we never stop to consider whether they even make sense anymore.

But maybe we should. Especially if those beliefs make us feel miserable.

It always saddens me when I see grown women still caught up in this miserable game. Spending too much of her precious life force obsessing over what to put in her mouth, rather than enjoying her life, and her food.

I believe the key to sustainable eating is finding the place where fuel, nourishment, and pleasure ALL intersect.

This is what I get most excited about when working with my clients – helping them to relate to (and experience) food in a whole different way.

I call it food freedom, and I wrote a post about it a few years back.

Some people believe that food freedom means indiscriminately eating up anything and everything whenever they desire, and that to actually let themselves experience it would surely mean throwing in the towel, or giving up on their health and body goals (whatever those may be).

But the kind of food freedom I’m speaking of here, doesn’t come at the expense of feeling great in your body or overcoming health challenges (because that wouldn’t feel very freeing, now would it?).

Please don’t equate food freedom with a lack of self-discipline, because in my opinion, you can’t have true food freedom without it.

Okay, so experiencing this freedom isn’t likely the reason why somebody initially comes to work with me and they may not word it in this exact way, however, I find that it’s often an underlying desire, whether a conscious one or not.

Perhaps they want to figure out their stomach issues, their digestion, lose the weight, or prepare their body for a healthy pregnancy.

And of course, we’ll work on these things.

You see, education is the easy part. Some people really just need the knowledge and the guidance to put all of the pieces together in a way that jives with their body and life best. They take the knowledge and hit the ground running.

If only it could be this simple for everyone.

Implementation is what trips people up the most. And not because they don’t want to make the required changes, but because sometimes those changes can be really uncomfortable.

When the soother is taken away, we’re forced to deal with the negative emotion head-on. No numbing out.

Of course a soother can take on many other forms (i.e. alcohol, shopping, work), but for many of us it’s food.

And while the journey may not always be smooth sailing, I think it’s worthwhile to hang in there for the ride and figure it out.

Because living in a diet prison = no fun.

By the way, just to clarify, it is completely possible to be on a restrictive diet (out of necessity) and not feel like you’re living in a diet prison.

Sometimes not eating “the food” (whatever it may be) is actually MORE liberating if doing so leaves you with debilitating symptoms or feeling lawful.

In other words don’t get sucked into a false sense of freedom and then let restriction slip in the back door (in the form of unpleasant symptoms that restrict your life).

Remember, the freedom I speak of includes feeling good in your body.

At the end of the day, each of us gets to decide what we choose to believe about healthy living and eating as a whole.

That’s the beauty of free will, my dear.

You can choose to live behind the bars, or break on out of them.

Didn’t you know that they were self-imposed, anyways?

All love,

Elaine

p.s. I always love hearing from you. In the comments below, let me know which beliefs about health have been serving you well in your life. Are there any beliefs that you’re ready to give up?

An Ode to Food Freedom

Do you ever write down and keep track of your daily food intake?

Back a little while ago, I found a scrap piece of paper tucked away in a stack of old papers in my desk drawer that had my hand-writing scrawled on it.

It read:

– Orange juice, apple cup.

– Baby carrots (handful), 1 small apple, little bit of salad (teeny bit).

That’s it.

Clearly the list was incomplete, not to mention unbalanced.

I can only imagine that based on what was listed I must have been starving by the afternoon and binged out on everything in sight throwing the list (figuratively speaking of course) out the window, which is why nothing else was recorded.

I don’t know what year it came from but it’s clearly from another time. What I do know is that I haven’t purchased store-bought orange juice or apple cups (apple sauce?) in years. My guess is that I wrote it sometime in my early twenties, but I honestly don’t know for sure; it may have been earlier.

It was clearly at a time in my life when I was heavily restricting. At these times I would make lists tracking everything I ate in hopes it would help me control my food intake.

I never stayed on the overly restrictive side of the pendulum for too long though before it swung back full speed to the other side. Riding the perpetual diet roller coaster and trapped in my own self-imposed prison.

At any rate, it brought up old memories of a time in my life where restriction, deprivation and guilt around food was the norm. I remember at times it was like living in hell–or as I now refer to it–diet prison.

My relationship with food and my body has changed drastically since those days. It honestly feels like an eternity ago.

Today I feel a sense of freedom around food and ease in the way I eat.

I naturally gravitate towards wholesome foods that I also derive pleasure from, that nourish my body because I highly value my health and vitality and prefer feeling my best–strong, energized, light, clear-minded, and with a calm belly.

But, I’ll also happily enjoy an almond croissant or ice cream from time to time without any feelings of shame or guilt, and, without throwing in the “proverbial towel” for the entire day or weekend, only to start “fresh again on Monday”.

I also no longer have weird obsessions or hang-ups around food (that often go hand-in-hand with an overly restrictive diet), so it doesn’t have the same strange-hold over me that it once did.

It’s occurred to me for some time that many women are trapped in diet prisons of their own. Sometimes by no choice of their own; other times willingly, even if they’re not aware of it.

I’ve consulted with enough women over the years to know that many of them have hang-ups around their body and food. And it’s not only women struggling to lose weight or overcome food addiction, but also those struggling with health problems of their own that may require a restrictive diet in order for them to heal. Then there are others who feel enslaved by the very same diet that once made them feel great but now is not working so well, and they’re left feeling confused yet determined to make it work. Really there are tons of reasons why someone might be trapped in a diet prison.

So where am I headed with all this?

Food Freedom

This is what I wish for all the women in my life.

Young and old; near and far.

Daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts and mothers.

Each and every woman who comes to work with me; short or long-term, and regardless of end-goal.

Whether they want to lose weight, heal their digestion, or balance their hormones.

I want each and every woman to walk away with a new-found sense of freedom around food;

To know how to nourish her body without feelings of restriction or deprivation.

This is what I wish for all women.

Food Freedom.

This is my ode to each and every one of you.

How does that sound? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Much more to come.

All love,
Elaine