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How to Make Friends with Food

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What does it mean to be “healthy”?

Health can be defined by a dictionary: “Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans, it is the general condition of a person‘s mind and body, usually meaning to be free from illnessinjury or pain (as in “good health” or “healthy“).” – Wikipedia

Or, in a broader sense, by the World Health Organization: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

So the conclusion we can come to, based on these two definitions, is that “healthy” generally means that one’s mind and body are free of disease, injury and pain. In a broader sense, healthy can mean many things to many people, so it is pretty tough to define, individually, what that means. Many people are living with chronic illness or injury and yet would still consider themselves to be “healthy”.

“A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement” ― Jess C. Scott

For today, I want to focus in on just one aspect of the broader umbrella term, and zoom in on a major component of our lives, food. Do you have a healthy relationship with food?

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf

Lizdevil 1a

My heaviest weight at the end of my final year of high school. About 185lbs. on my 5’4″ frame.

 Having been both obese and anorexic and , I know what it takes to really have a healthy relationship with food. Observing the people around me though, would lead me to believe that not many people actually possess a healthy relationship with their food. Again, this can mean many things to many people, so let’s break it down like this:

Signs of an unhealthy relationship with food:

  • Guilt or shame after eating certain foods
  • Making excuses for not eating
  • Hoarding or hiding food
  • Eating only in private
  • Persistent worrying about becoming or being fat
  • Distorted body image
  • Laxative abuse
  • Excessive exercise
  • Fasting after eating
  • Frequently checking in the mirror for flaws
  • Eating to excess
  • Inability to stop eating/loss of control over food intake
  • uncontrollable emotional eating
  • Judging others based on their dietary choices
  • Constant dieting
  •  Resources:Go Kaleo: Stop Dieting

Liz Short Cut 1

Full blown anorexic, abusing laxatives daily, never ate before dark, only drank coffee during the day. 

Signs of a HEALTHY relationship with food (via Ellyn Satter):

  • Eating until satisfied
  • Being able to choose foods you enjoy guilt free
  • Giving thought to the healthfulness and nutritious aspects of food but also eating for enjoyment
  • Being okay with overeating at times, or under eating or eating and leaving some food on your plate
  • Normal eating is flexible and varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food, your emotions and your fitness goals
  • Mexico - Sept 23 - Oct 1 2005 017 smaller

2005 – I had gained about 25lbs and I was very unhappy with my weight at this point. Still struggling to get a healthy relationship with food. I often starved myself all day and then overindulged at night.

Based on these parameters, I can come to the conclusion that pretty much everyone I know in real life and on the interwebs has an eating disorder. We all obsess over our bodies and our food, and then we obsess about everyone else’s bodies and the food they eat. This all turns into unhealthy relationships with our food and ourselves.

Truly the only way to have a healthy relationship with our bodies and our foods is to commit to our own goals and live in the present moment. Commit to goals for yourself, be it a physical goal or a mental goal, both are of utmost importance. When you deviate from your goal, don’t punish yourself, just get back to it as soon as you realize you left the path you were on. Or just accept the fact that the path is a meandering one and not a straight-away. My path goes all over the place, but ultimately has led me to every life goal I’ve ever had. Achieving simple goals on the way to bigger ones gives you a more optimistic view of life.

Babes in the woods

Did I have a healthy relationship with food here? Probably…

My own personal beliefs and goals get me through life, they make my marriage amazing, they make my relationships with my kids a wonderful thing and the positivity flows because of it. Being okay with the fact that nobody is perfect, including yourself, is a great achievement.

The major reason I wrote this post was because of this image I posted on my social media over the weekend:

apple fritter

Some people chose to get rather heated in their comments because this was a picture of a doughnut that contained sugar, flour, gluten and many other horrible poisons! But why are people so concerned with what I’m eating? Is it because I’ve talked about the paleo diet or been vocal about trying strict-paleo or vegan or raw or…..?

But after almost five years in the food/health/fitness blogging world, I’ve come to some conclusions. Mostly, that people are judgemental, critical and hurtful when behind the keyboard and monitor. Would you walk up to someone coming out of a bakery and ask them, “Why the hell are you eating that doughnut in front of me?! I can’t even see  a doughnut or I might eat seventeen hundred of them RIGHT MEOW!” Whereupon they begin eating all the donuts in the bakery and blame you for their overconsumption and inability to have self-control.

You see, that would never happen in real life! Why? I think we all know that it comes down to what can only be called, the human condition. Some people thrive on negativity, or have no self-control and choose to blame others for their shortcomings. Every one of us is different. There are no right ways for us to live, eat, run, walk, shit, party, raise children, garden, mow our lawns, drive our cars, vote, buy groceries, exercise, talk, move, etc.

We are all different. 

Can we all just take a second and remember where the name of this blog came from…Guilty Kitchen. It came from my inability as a teenager/young adult to not feel guilty about food every time I ate it. I became anorexic, abused laxatives, over-exercised and underate, drank only coffee before dark, drank too much booze, gained weight over and over and then finally learned what it means to be healthy. After 15 years of battling my weight and my food choices, I’m finally in a place where I’m happy.

I love my body, my strength, my curves. I love eating fresh local produce and fruits, grass fed meats and pastured chickens, but I also love doughnuts and cake and pie and cheese and cream and butter. I strive to have balance in my life and I hope that you do as well. If we all just spent a little more time trying to balance our own lives and cared less about what others were doing in theirs, I think we would all have a much healthier, happier life.

How to Make Friends with Food:

Set Goals

Setting goals around your food, health or fitness will help you determine what, when, how and what you need to eat and what you need to do to achieve your fitness or health goals. Want to be a marathoner? You’ll need to determine what foods best fuel your training. Want to be the next strongwoman? You’ll need to step up your food intake and hit the weights accordingly. Want to lose weight but are not sure how? ASK SOMEONE. Get help if you aren’t sure where to start. Look up local dieticians, doctors or coaches in your area who have viewpoints similar to your own

Get Close to Your Food

Visit farms, farmer’s markets, local food producers and locally owned grocery stores and restaurants. These people know what’s going on in your cities.

Be Okay with “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back”

Life is not a straight path to the grave, it is a meandering walk along the seashore. Take time to enjoy your life (you only get one!), don’t think about everything so much. Relax and let go once in a while. Be okay with a little failure and then get back on that horse and ride!

Find Like Minded People

Surround yourself with positive people who help (not hinder) your ability to achieve your goals. Get rid of negative people and people who show jealousy at your achievements.

Get Sleep

However you need to!

Eat the DAMN FOOD

Stop starving yourself and eat for your goals and your health (mental and physical)!

Accept your body for what is has done or can do!

My body is AMAZING! I’ve been through a full spinal fusion, carried two babies to term, had two natural births, liften inconceivable amounts of weight over my head and I still can’t do a pullup! Love that body, those curves, that cellulite, that flab. Use your body to it’s full potential and you will learn to love it for what it is, no matter what it looks like.

Can’t go it alone? I’m here for you. Email me!

14 comments to How to Make Friends with Food

  • Anne LaRocque

    Awesome article Liz and you are dead right, people should look at themselves instead of telling others what they should or shouldn’t be doing

  • Nadia

    Bravo! Best things I’ve read in a long time 🙂

  • Kim

    Thanks for this! The comments on facebook frustrated me because I felt that the picture made your lifestyle more relatable (to someone like me who is gearing up make some lifestyle changes) than if you were to only put up pictures representing a so called “perfect” diet. Yes by having a public voice you have some influence over how people perceive certain things (in this case food) but I would rather you be honest than militant and judgemental of food choices that are less healthy. For many people 80/20 is a realistic and healthy way to live life and as you stated above by making certain foods guilty and off limits you only further perpetuate unhealthy attitudes towards food. Anyways Im trying to say that as someone who continues to struggle with body image and disordered eating this article spoke to me so thank you!

  • Adrian

    Awesome article Elizabeth. So many truths here, I wish everyone could read this.

  • Great post, my friend!
    winnie recently posted..May Flowers + Friday SharesMy Profile

  • I just wanted to let you know how amazing this post is and how proud I am of you. I haven’t commented on your blog before, but I am one of those like minded people you mentioned above 😉 You and I would get along so well <3 I can feel it 🙂 The title of this post drew me in as I always wanted to create some sort of program in schools or something to develop a positive relationship with food at a very young age. It is so important – as you know 🙂 Great post, girl. And I am with you on the IG haters. They just NEED something to be negative about. The same thing happened to me this weekend when I took a picture of my dinner – meat and veg. Not enough carbs for my haters. Yeeesh.

    xoxoxo

    • Elizabeth

      Seriously? That’s just sad. I honestly feel bad for those people. Can’t we all just get along?? And yes, I think we could be very good friends!

  • Great post Liz! Keep finding that balance and living your life.
    Richard recently posted..Neuroscience and Hacking Into Flow StatesMy Profile

  • Jennifer MacRae

    Good for you! I’m glad that you are able to enjoy your treats… And that you have chosen to stand up for yourself 🙂 what would life be without an indulgent moment or two?

  • Great post. Healthy folks can have doughnuts… I eat very well 98% of the time. Baked goods are my usual go-to for cheating. It still makes me feel bad for a minute, but it’s a reward I deserve. Everyone does.
    John @ Garage Gyms recently posted..Why Does Crossfit Use Rowing, and Why the Concept 2 RowerMy Profile

  • A fantastic post. My definition of health is the “freedom to move in any direction”, mind, body and spirit.

    Thanks for sharing your story!
    Heather recently posted..Hornby Island Energy Bar ReviewMy Profile

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