Yesterday, I sat in a cafe across from my client and we were talking through her relationship with food. Frustrated, she had written me an email prior to our session saying “…all this mental stuff sometimes leads to a paralysis around food because I just sit there having no idea what I want to eat when I have options. I don’t know what to eat or do and sometimes I just get exhausted from it and don’t even want to eat anything because I’m just fed up.”
I get it. I remember when I first started to “eat intuitively” and not diet, I was so confused.
What do I want to eat? What do I even like? What makes me feel good?
I know so many of you can probably relate, and how can you not when we live in a society that constantly bombards us with external messages about how we should and shouldn’t eat? It’s no wonder we are all so disconnected from OURSELVES and what we actually like and want.
I had my client open her journal and I said how do you WANT food to feel for you?
She said: satisfying, delicious, and exciting.
Great. I had her write these words at the top of her page.
So I said, if for just a few minutes, we put calories, “health”, and fears aside (ie. if I eat pancakes I will surely gain weight), I want you to write down what you actually would LOVE to eat for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. What would feel satisfying, delicious and exciting?
She looked at me like a deer in headlights for a minute, unsure how she would be able to access what she actually wanted, but then she slowly, timidly started writing.
I could tell she was stumbling at first and could almost see the fears popping up in her head as she wrote (“you can’t eat that! That is not healthy enough!”) and reminded her not to let those fears be a part of this exercise.
Minute by minute, I saw her relax. I saw her get excited. I saw her pen writing faster and faster and faster. I saw a smile spread across her lips. I saw JOY.
I saw her inner foodie finally coming out to play. Finally, it was being let out of its cage. And she was having FUN.
For years, she had denied her inner foodie in favor of eating foods she thought she “should” eat. She had repressed this part of her that actually loved delicious, interesting food. Finally, she was letting this part of her have a place in her life, even if just for a moment.
When my client was done, I read through what she wrote, and we discussed what she noticed when she looked at all this delicious food.
The biggest thing she noticed? What she truly, genuinely wanted to eat wasn’t atrociously unhealthy. In fact, it was really balanced. Sure, she wanted to eat a burger sometimes, but she also wrote that she wanted greens on the side. She wanted pizza too, but also included that she’d love a small salad alongside her pizza. Some of the lunches she wrote down were more indulgent, and some were lighter. Her breakfasts were all extremely nutritious. Sure, she wanted pancakes sometimes, but not every day. And when she did want them, she wanted them with fresh berries.
I looked at her and said “You can trust yourself.”
And that’s what I want you to take away from this…
We really can trust ourselves. I have had so many clients do this exercise and they are always shocked to see what comes out of it. They don’t want fried chicken + a burger + pizza + chocolate cake + a quesadilla all in one day. That doesn’t sound appealing, right? Because that’s not what we truly want.
Naturally, we want to feel good. Naturally, we want balance. Naturally, we want pleasure. And pleasure isn’t (usually) pigging out on 6 slices of pizza. It’s eating pizza in a way that’s actually enjoyable.
The problem is, we don’t actually believe that we can trust ourselves. We don’t believe that if we let our inner foodie out to play, that we wouldn’t gain 100 pounds and become horribly unhealthy.
But the cost to not letting our inner food out is that we’re going to be eating for the rest of our lives in a way that isn’t true to who we are. It isn’t pleasurable. It is confusing, rigid, not “us”, and ultimately, not satisfying.
So my challenge for you is… let your inner foodie flag fly. Decide how you want food to feel, and then write down what you would LOVE to eat and what would make you feel that way. For a week, see what it would be like to eat that way. You deserve it. You are “good enough” to eat that way. You don’t need to earn it. You’re there. Go for it, and have fun.
And after a week of playing around with this, I hope you continue to eat like that forever. There doesn’t need to be a “going back to dieting”. This actually can be your new normal. You and your inner foodie can take it all the way.
As my client and I left our session, I saw a spark in her for the first time. She was so excited to let food back into her life in this kind of a way. She was finally free.
Let me know how this goes for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear.
P.S. As always, you can join the 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge at anytime: the program that thousands of women have participated in to heal their relationship with food.