How do I find balance with healthy eating, making progress, but not becoming obsessed with food?
It's easy to get caught up in your goals and focus on nutrition and training "perfectly" but for anything to be maintainable it has to fit your lifestyle. So how does anyone find food freedom? It's important if you notice yourself leaning to the extreme that you make an effort to incorporate the following tips to find balance again.
Food freedom tips:
1. Have someone else cook or go out to eat
Having someone else make a meal for you will take away the knowledge of what exactly is in the meal. They can cook with oil, add some butter, maybe introduce a new food you would never make, etc. Meals out don't always to be super extravagant or unhealthy but it's important to relearn how to enjoy yourself and relax. One meal will not ruin your progress just like one healthy meal doesn't suddenly cause fat loss.
2. Do not eliminate foods unless allergic, intolerant, or ethics
Food restriction, when not necessary, often leads to a bad relationship with food. If you truly do not have a legitimate reason for avoiding certain foods it's important to add them back into your diet and see if you enjoy them. Check in with yourself and evaluate how that food makes you feel- mind, body, and soul. Did it give you energy, did it make you happy, did it make you tired, leave you hungry? Explore the foods you have written off.
3. Food journal for physical and mental feelings
After eating a meal/snack take the time and write down your thoughts. Include both the physical feelings of fullness, hunger, satisfaction, bloating, etc. as well as the mental feelings. As you are trying to find food freedom it is okay to slowly transition off of always tracking your food but it is helpful to start logging the physical and mental. You will be able to now identify what foods feel the best, fuel you, and what thoughts or feelings are triggered. This is where connections can begin to be made where we can separate the feelings from the food.
4. Food tracking-days off
If food tracking has been part of your life and now the balance is out of wack, it's a good opportunity to take time off from tracking. Foods eaten do not even have to change at first. Start by eyeballing portions rather than measuring. If you normally track and measure everyday start by taking two days off during the week. As that becomes manageable start adding in more days away from measuring and tracking. Tracking can be a great tool but should be used as such. When a specific goal is in mind it can be useful but should be phased for those just living a healthy lifestyle. Once you understand portions, measuring and tracking is not always necessary, especially for those that fall into the all or nothing category.
As with anything, START SMALL and realistic! Maybe it's one snack untracked or a night out when you normally would have stayed in due to fear and anxiety of eating out. It will take time and effort but every step forward gets you closer to food freedom.