Confession time: My diet has been less than stellar lately.
I have been travelling and visiting family, which I think is the ultimate disaster for eating well. You don’t have your normal kitchen, your normal shopping routine, and you have family offering you food you’d rather not eat under normal circumstances.
This kind of thing used to have no effect on me. Since I spent 7 years as a vegan I was really used to eating nothing that anyone offered me. That carried on after I wasn’t vegan anymore because I didn’t want to eat anything that wasn’t organic, whole foods, and I avoided a couple types of food, as well (sugar, some grains, etc.).
Well, a couple of years ago I decided for a few reasons that I should loosen up just a tad and occasionally eat out at places that weren’t organic. Partially as an experiment in how I’d feel, partially to not worry so much. Lately, as indicated above, I also just started accepting things from people to be more socially acceptable instead of always having my own food.
Due to this, in the last week I ate:
Regular ‘ol pizza
Disgustingly processed Easter dinner
And possibility other stuff I am not thinkin’ about. None of this was organic or made with good quality ingredients.
(I’m actually totally ashamed even writing this because I believe so strongly in sustainable agriculture and it makes me feel terrible that I’ve eaten so much food that hasn’t been produced sustainably.. So go easy on me!)
My social experiement (or whatever it was) is officially over. I’m sick of eating crap just because it’s easier to not make a fuss around other people and I’ve learned what I need to from this, but it’s made me realize that eating healthy for those who haven’t started super early in life is SO HARD because there is another layer that has nothing to do with what you are actually eating. It’s not the only layer either, that doesn’t even take into account the emotional components of what we eat, which I think is huge.
How annoying is it
- To tell your in-laws you don’t want to eat their food?
- To be limited to only a couple of restaurant choices (and even those you aren’t completely sure if the food is up to your standards)?
- To have to spend more on your food than most other people?
- Or have to go to multiple stores further away from where you live than than one right down the street (I never stopped shopping healthfully, but I can imagine that it’s hard to begin going to different stores than you are used to and are convenient). Or even to have your shopping schedule dictated by when the local farmer’s market is available?
I don’t think that you need to be 100% perfect in your diet to be healthy. In fact, I think that a lot of times having a relaxed attitude towards food does you more good than harm. Personally, I just feel bad eating food that isn’t produced with the land and animals in mind because of my other eco-crazy ethics, which is why I am so done with this experiment!
So how do you combine a relaxed attitude towards food with the fact that if you don’t think about your food at all you will probably be eating bad foods (because society)?
As somebody who likes to eat organic, whole foods, and trash free I’m not even going to pretend like it’s easy and I never have to go out of my way. I don’t let it stress me out, but I know that I have a tendency to under-eat when I’m not concentrating on eating enough healthy food, which is it’s own kind of stress on my body.
But I do think there is a balance. I think it’s possible to eat well for the most part but be able to occasionally eat what others choose (along with them). For the most part, I’m sure I’ve done that, but I just can’t handle my enviro-guilt anymore, so it’s obviously not working for me to stay this way.
Here are my takeaways from acting whatever towards food for a little less than two years (less so at the beginning and more so near the end):
- You might not feel bad if you are still eating well at home most of the time. You may even feel better.
- You have to put in effort to eat well – It’s not something that is instantaneously easy on a lot of levels, so go easy on yourself if you aren’t eating well.
- If you want to adopt a relaxed attitude towards food be sure to eat well at home and when you are alone and worry less when with other people or else you will quickly tip the balance of healthy to unhealthy foods in the favor of unhealthy.
- Release your attachment to whether food is good or bad for you – It will help you stress less, make choices that are right for you instead of going along with what other people say, and it actually changes the way your body assimilates food to feel negatively about it.
- FEED YOURSELF! If you are hungry you will go for high calorie junk bombs everytime. This means you take chocolate other people offer you when you forget to eat lunch or eat too little. (I have nothing against chocolate, I think we both know there is good quality and bad quality stuff, though).
- If you are going to spend decent money on anything, make it food. If you are worried about money you will not buy good food. Sometimes you just have to not worry and trust that you can eat good food and it’ll work out.
If you do that stuff, eating healthfully will be so much easier. There isn’t a whole lot of room in life to stress about food, but you’ve gotta think about your diet a bit in order to not eat absolute junk.
I’d love to know if you have stumbling blocks when it comes to eating well and what you have learned about how to keep yourself healthy without food stress. Lemme know in the comments.