Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while now and that is the rules and the language that we seem to use when it comes to giving ourselves permission to eat.
We are all human, and that means we need food, at regular intervals, in order to survive. In fact, we need to do this in order to not only survive but thrive!
There is lots of advice out there that seems to contradict this though. In practice, I also see people denying themselves regular access to food, for a variety of reasons.
Such as splurging all your calories on one meal and then not eating for the rest of the day or most of the next day to “Make up for it” regardless of appetite cues
Only eating cake after a big gym sesh because “you deserve it” rather than when you actually feel like eating cake
Being “good” all week and then having a “cheat meal” or “cheat day” to get you through another “good” week
Being too busy to eat [insert meal here]
Putting off eating until [job, errand, emails] are finished
And I get it. I really do. It’s normal in our culture now to be BUSY. In fact, its normal (and dare I say even revered!) to be SO busy that we can’t possible fit in a single thing more and essential self-care activities fall by the wayside. Things like; adequate sleep, eating regularly, planning meals, shopping, enjoyable movement. Essential things. Things we need in order to live our best lives. And no wonder – we’re surrounded by people who do these things too. So it seems like this is normal!
While I think its some of this busy-ness that we seem to be obsessed with I think there’s something else going on here too. We’ve been told not to trust our internal signals. We’ve been told, in essence by the dieting industry, that we aren’t worthy of receiving the adequate amount of food (hint: it’s not 1200 calories!). Messages or comments like “well you could stand to miss a few meals” “you’ve got a bit in reserve” are incredibly hurtful and rude and damaging. The caveman part of our brain starts screaming at us that we’re at risk of social rejection and isolation so we start to have thoughts like
Maybe I don’t deserve to eat.
Maybe I should eat less.
Maybe I should eat like my work colleges instead of what I’ve been doing.
Or maybe we don’t have these thoughts, but maybe these come across in our actions.
Eating lunch at our desks. Skipping meals or having them on the run. Using alcohol to wind down after a stressful day.
But you know what?
You are human, therefore you deserve to eat.
You deserve to eat regular meals, full of foods you actually enjoy and find satisfying.
You deserve to eat until you feel satisfied – none of this ‘only eat until 80% full’ nonsense
You deserve to sit down and focus on your meals.
You deserve to know that you will have enough to eat when you next get hungry.
You deserve to use nutrition to help take care of yourself.
photo credit: Yoshihide Nomura