Having a Healthy Relationship with Food

healthy-relationship-with-food

Honestly, I'm feeling kind of anxious approaching this topic... but that probably means it's interesting, right? That's what I'm telling myself.

A while back I started counting my macronutrient intake. I had daily goals for protein, carbs, and fats, and I tried to hit them (to the gram) every day. I meticulously measured/weighed everything and tracked it. Recently, I started getting weird symptoms that felt like anxiety + a food allergy or nutritional deficiency (that adventure can be an entirely different post). I took a good look at my dietary habits and realized that I wasn't getting a lot of real, whole foods. I was filling my carbs and fats with garbage food because I knew I could get away with it without losing any leanness. 

I felt bad about the amount of carbs in an apple, which made me never want to eat them.

eat-fruit

That really got me thinking -- am I really prioritizing having visible abs over actually being healthy and nourishing my body? How did this happen? That's not how I started with macros, but that is where I ended up. Am I really that vain?

I also started to notice how awkward and obsessive I seemed in social settings. I even looked unhealthy at some points. For example, a coworker commented about how I was using an artificial sweetner. He suggested that that was less healthy than just eating raw sugar. I've never been the type to eat artificial sweetner. I've heard too many negative findings from studies done about them. But again, I was caring more about the macros than the nutritional value/potential harm. 

blueberry-salad

I was also just feeling really obsessive. In an unhealthy way that I hadn't felt since I went through my extremely restrictive, 500-calories-a-day phase in college. I definitely didn't want to lose the progress I had made with my mental health/relationship with food. 

I realized that I spent more time counting/tracking my food intake than I did reading the bible or praying - not cool. I would only halfway invest my attention into conversations because I was too busy working in Myfitnesspal. I already spend a ton of time on my phone for blog stuff. I don't need any additional phone time haha. 

And at the end of the day, who cares if I have a visible six pack? That is not where my value comes from. My worth is in Christ alone. I am created in the image of God, and I have been asked to treat my body like a temple for the Lord - giving it proper exercise and nourishment, but not becoming so obsessive about aesthetics that it starts to become an idol. 

You are beautiful. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You have value. You are worth more than you know. You are not a number on a scale or a progress picture on Instagram. You are a daughter of the King. 

psalm-139.jpg

So I stopped counting. Not because it is inherently bad/disordered, but because it didn't work for me mentally.

Yes, I have lost some definition. I think part of that is simply because I went a little crazy on my birthday last week (I'll give you more deets about that splurge on Friday). 

So I'm back to intuitive eating. I'm eating whole foods when I'm hungry and not tracking any of it.

green-juice

I've gotten really into listening to podcasts lately. This past week I've been listening to The Delightful Life and Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty TipsThese have been really influential for me as I've been processing all of this. The Delightful Life has influenced me because it is about balance, happiness, faith, and joy. It's helped me realize that my priorities are out of whack. And the Nutrition Diva had a podcast titled: Disordered Eating that provided 9 signs that you have an unhealthy relationship with food. I listened to it thinking - oh, this could help me better understand my readers who are struggling with an eating disorder. And then I realized that I empathized personally with a lot of the stuff mentioned. 

Note: there is a difference between disordered eating and having an eating disorder. According to the podcast, Disordered eating is the less serious, but much more common version of an eating disorder--is an unhealthy, obsessive relationship with food. Disordered eating is so common that it’s arguably, and unfortunately, “normal.” While 10% of Americans will experience a full-blown eating disorder at some point in their lives, a 2009 national survey of over 4,000 women ages 25-45 found that 65% struggle with disordered eating. 

I felt like my mindset with macros was very unhealthy based on these signs - not that I was seeing all of them or anything. But I was seeing more than I should see - especially as a healthy living blogger and nutrition coach. I don't want to set that example for you guys. I don't want to be the obsessive girl, I want to be the holistically healthy girl who cares more about health than aesthetics. The podcast is really short, so I recommend that you listen to it, but here are the 9 signs:

  1. Thinking of foods as either all good or all bad - black & white nutrition 
  2. You're basically on a permanent diet
  3. You weigh yourself (or look at your abs) too often, and the number on the scale (or the amount of definition) directly affects your mood
  4. You measure your exercise in calories
  5. You think about food all the time - what you're going to eat, in how long
  6. Your weight is in a healthy range, but you think you're fat
  7. You eat lots of non-caloric foods like diet drinks, sugar-free Jell-O, gum, tea, coffee, or ice to try to save calories. In addition, you might use caffeine—or smoke—as an appetite suppressant
  8. You get anxious about social situations involving food 
  9. You eat to procrastinate, to entertain yourself when you’re bored, to reward yourself, to console yourself when you’re sad, or otherwise connect food with emotion 
prepping-chicken

What does that mean for me, practically?

  • Eating real, whole foods and not being afraid to eat fruit or drink juice because of the amount of carbs
  • Still prepping a lot - grilled chicken, salads, sweet potatoes, etc. 
  • Paying attention to diversifying my vegetable intake and taking in a lot of leafy greens 
  • Eating vegetables and fruit for carbs instead of breads and sweets
  • Allowing myself splurge meals once a week
  • Spending more time in the Bible and in prayer
  • I'm also thinking about trying an elimination diet to try to figure out my potential food sensitivity/allergy issue (Does anyone have experience with doing one of these?)

What does your relationship with food look like? Be honest. Is it healthy? Is it loving to your body? Is it nourishing? I challenge you to really think about that this week.