I’m going to guess as someone who is active that you feel pretty knowledgeable about what a healthy diet looks like.
And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to provide your body with nutritious foods.
But food is more than just energy, we are supposed to have a relationship with it, ideally a healthy one.
Feeling anxiety or fear about eating some french fries isn’t normal or necessary.
Food plays many roles but it’s not so powerful that enjoying ice cream, chips, or chocolate will cause you to be “unhealthy.”
You might be thinking but too much ice cream is unhealthy!
Too much of ANYTHING is unhealthy because it likely means it’s pushing out other foods and nutrients we need.
When we have a better relationship with food, it’s easier to have a balanced diet that consists of a variety of things.
So what does a healthy relationship with food look like?
First, it’s removing food rules and moral value from eating choices. I help my clients to see ALL foods as having value. It’s a food if it’s providing energy, therefore it provides value.
When we can see food in this way then we’re making choices not based on what we’ve been told is best but what will work best for us in that moment.
I love cinnamon rolls. I prefer to enjoy them on the weekends when I have more time and I find I feel good when I pair it with some protein.
During the work week I want sustained energy and mental alertness so I have learned that eggs with toast and some fat from avocado or peanut butter works best.
When you remove the labels which means less anxiety, then it’s easier to make meal decisions based on how you want to feel.
Second, a healthy relationship with food means we’re thinking about it intermittently throughout the day, not constantly.
When I ask clients what percent of your day is spent thinking about food they’re surprised by how much because it’s become normal for them. And these aren’t pleasant, happy thoughts like what sounds good for lunch or what would be interesting to make for dinner?
For most people I work with they’re using mental energy to calculate macros and figure out if they need to workout more or eat less later. These kinds of thoughts leave us feeling drained, not inspired.
Improving your relationship with food can not only help your mental health but also physical health and performance.
When you no longer fear things like carbs you can provide your body with the fuel it needs to go hard or longer during workouts.
Your risk of injury goes down and your hormones remain balanced because the body has the resources it needs.
If you feel like there’s some room for improvement with your relationship to food, start by considering what you want this relationship to look like.
After you’ve eaten something how do you want to feel emotionally? Maybe it’s content, at peace, or confident.
What rules and beliefs will you need to drop to feel this way?
What percent of your time and mental energy do you want to go toward eating and meal decisions?
It’s possible to have an uncomplicated relationship with food while supporting your activity and health. I know because I’ve experienced it myself and so have my clients!