I don’t put nearly as much thought into food as I used to. Sure I now meal plan, browse recipes and enjoy cooking, but even with all that, I’m spending so much less time and effort focusing on what I eat. How is that even possible, right? Here are a few myths I used to believe that might explain it…
1. Calorie Counting Is Just a Way of Life. I seriously used to believe that everyone must count calories. How the heck did anyone really maintain or lose weight without assigning a numerical value to every morsel that entered their mouth? I prided myself on being able to eyeball calorie counts to an almost scary degree of accuracy and spent hours recording calories and/or macros into online food diaries. If I didn’t know a food’s count, I’d usually skip it. This led to me eating more processed/packaged foods because the calorie count was clearly displayed.
Now… most of the foods I eat don’t have nutrition labels and even when they do, I find myself going straight to the ingredient list instead of calorie count. It took years, but I slowly learned to embrace listening to how my body felt when eating certain foods. Ah,the mythical intuitive eating IS a real thing. I know now that I feel pretty awesome when I fill my plate with real food and try to eat in accordance with that as often as possible.
2. Food Is a Reward. I made it through finals! I deserve to eat an entire sub sub from Little Italy, an entire order of Pokey Sticks and a pitcher of cheap beer by myself because I earned it goshdarnit. Look, I ran! So now I’m going to down a pint of ice cream. I earned it. You get the point.
Now… I am pretty committed to food not being a reward for me or my girls. I found when I used food as a reward for myself, I’d end up obsessing over it, overindulging or putting certain foods up on a forbidden pedestal, only making me want them more. Now, if we want ice cream or a cheeseburger or a beer (me clearly, not the kiddos), we have it, but not because we earned it in anyway. Food is food. I make no difference in how I present broccoli with how I present a bowl of ice cream to Hailey. The ice cream just shows up a lot less often.
3. Healthy Eating is All of Nothing. I remember eating raw vegetables and grilled chicken breast (ew, flavorless much?) and being pretty proud of myself. Then I’d end up snagging a few bites of chips and onion dip and BAM. I had blown it. My skewed logic said it I was off the wagon, I might as well go all out and I’d stuff myself silly with dips, indulgences and desserts because the next day I’d have to be back on the healthy train. I’d end up uncomfortably stuffed and greasy feeling.
Now… I’m not going to spew the 80/20 rule all over you. There is a lot of logic to it, but my crazy mind would end up trying to do elaborate equations to figure if I’d gone over my 20% or not- haha. Now I am really in tune with my body and I truly eat whatever I want. Cringe, right? I remember people used to say that and behind my nodding head and smile I’d be thinking ‘sure, must be easy if all you want to eat is spinach and chia seeds!’’ Now that I’m here, I just want to shout BUT IT’S TRUE. Once I no longer viewed food as good or bad, once I really could tell a difference in how I felt when I ate or didn’t eat certain foods and once I learned how to cook real food in a tasty way, the rest just fell into place. Sure I overdo it now and then, but I’d say 95% of the time I feel good about my eating habits.
Healthy eating looks different to each person. For me, it’s about focusing on how food makes me feel. It took me years to reach this place and I am grateful I am here now. I feel healthy and I sure as heck don’t have time to be counting every calorie with two kids underfoot.
How has your definition of healthy eating evolved over the years?
What is a health myth you used to believe that you no longer do?