Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I take a very relaxed approach to nutrition. I practice what I call Mindful Eating.
But, what does that mean, exactly?
First, let me tell you a little more about me and then I’ll explain what I mean by mindful eating.
See, when I started lifting weights in January of 2015, I also started tracking my nutrition, diligently, because I thought that was how it worked. I mean, I counted EVERY macronutrient and Calorie right down to the last stick of gum, to make sure everything was “on point”! I was constantly looking up nutrition information, weighing and measuring portions to get the EXACT amount, because Heaven forbid my numbers be even slightly off, stressing because no two labels for the same food item gave the same values (that’s a whole other explanation, lol), obsessing over what I “couldn’t” have, and constantly thinking about what I “could”. Food was controlling my life, and I was starting to dread mealtimes.
In the past, during my teenage years and early 20s, I had been in a really dark place with food, and I was starting to see some of that previously disordered mindset trying to creep back in, so in June of 2017, I decided to conduct a little self-experiment. I was going to not track my nutrition for one weekend, just to see how things would go. I knew if it got overwhelming, I could easily go back to daily Calorie math…Nothing lost, nothing gained
Well, that first weekend turned into a week, that week turned into a month, and that month turned into a year, and so on…
Today, I have a really good relationship with food. I no longer label it as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. There is no ”good” or “bad”, there’s only food. I don’t worry about what I “can” or “can’t” have,..I just eat!
Giving myself the freedom to choose has made me less likely to overindulge when I do eat a less than wholesome meal or snack. And, since I stopped tracking, I’ve really noticed the biggest positive changes in my overall body composition.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t just mindlessly eat, I’m always 100% aware of everything I put into my body, whether it be beer and tacos or grilled chicken with broccoli, and quinoa.
See, the trick with mindfulness is to not look at foods in terms of “good” or “bad”…Don’t try to tell yourself what you “can” and “can’t” have; that’s where feelings of restriction and deprivation manifest…Instead, focus on giving your body what you know it needs to flourish the majority of the time. Things that are rich in nutrients, that fill you up and energize you, and that you enjoy eating.
You don’t actually have to give up “junk” foods all together. Lord knows I love me some beer, tequila, pizza, cheese fries, ice cream, burgers, etc, and I allow myself to enjoy those things ANY TIME I WANT…and I do mean ENJOY…free of guilt and shame, because I know I don’t eat/drink that way everyday.
Allowing those things into my diet is a normal part of being human, and indulging every now and then does not, and will not, undo anything I’ve accomplished.
Mindfulness = awareness.
As I mentioned, I am 100% aware of everything that goes into my body at all times. By being more flexible with my nutrition…and a lot kinder to myself…I’ve found that I actually crave less-than-heathy foods much less often. For example, I know if I want a cookie at 12:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s perfectly ok to have one, but I often find myself craving something like apple and cottage cheese or a granola bar at times like that, so those things are what I reach for.
Being mindful isn’t about what you can and can’t have. It’s about being aware and accountable at all times without feeling guilty or beating yourself up.
You don’t have to be perfect to be all in. You just have to give it your best effort each and every day!