So this episode idea came to me from someone reaching out to me and asking a question. The question was;
“Why do some food freedom accounts support eating whatever / whenever and eating as much as it as you want? Will this get me to my body goals?”
So this is a great question! I am going to share with you my story to food freedom and then what worked for me to find balance with food so that I could work towards my health goals whilst at the same time staying sane.
Give yourself a filter
And no, I definitely DO NOT mean for you to spend ages trying to change your already perfectly imperfect photo before you post it on social media! By this I mean, it is your responsibility to develop a filter as to what you absorb from social media. This can be accounts that you are following that post shredded half-naked pictures and then use #lookatmynewtrainers when it’s blatantly a post so we can appreciate their body. (I have been there myself before I realised that this was not the person I wanted to be). Or it can be accounts that you are following that conflict with what you believe in your heart that feels right for you. For example, if you are looking to find balance with food but have health goals to achieve then maybe following accounts that encourage you to either eat ALL the food non-stop or accounts that encourage you to food prep and weigh and measure and count macros won’t help you either! YOU are in control of what you let into your mind and the most important thing is to go with whatever feels right for you. I am sharing with you my professional opinion and experiences from that of my clients and myself that have worked. If what I’m saying doesn’t feel right to you then that’s fine! Take from me what you feels good to you and leave what doesn’t. I spoke to a friend last night and she said she was counting calories… I immediately started saying to her. “No, don’t do it!!” But that wasn’t me respecting what SHE wanted. She said that she liked to do that and it works for her. She has no mental health issues around food and it feels right for her. That opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone wants to hear my option and not everyone needs my help!
Always question things and maintain your curiosity around everything. If it fits with your values and goals, great absorb it, learn, implement it, but if it doesn’t then politely leave it or unfollow.
What does food freedom actually mean?
Food freedom means to not feel crazy around food. To feel relaxed and not anxious about what you’ve eaten or what you’re going to eat. It is being excited to try new things or to have your favourite meal without that being the highlight of your day. Food freedom is not having to ‘be good’ because you enjoyed a burger with your friends yesterday. Food freedom is one of the best things that I have learnt and it was such a necessary part of my journey to health and happiness.
Food freedom can cure some people’s issue with dieting mentality and body confidence if the reason for their issues was purely physical with no mindset issues around food. If they were restricting food for so long and had no real emotional ties to food then simply learning how to find food freedom could help them immensely. HOWEVER, often we emotionally eat or binge eat because we are using food to cover-up something that we are not wanting to deal with. So if you are embracing ‘food freedom’ whilst eating 2 tubs of Ben & Jerrys because your boyfriend has pissed you off, then although it is great that are no longer restricting or denying yourself, the reason you are eating it isn’t because you just fancied 2 tubs of B&J, it’s because you always turn to binge eating when life gets tough.
If this sounds like you then you first need to learn how to emotionally process your feelings without always turning to food. If you’re sad, stressed, lonely, bored or even overly happy sometimes, we can turn to food to either increase our happiness or to temporarily make us feel better. This takes inner work and this is something that I can help you with because if you are in this kind of situation then you most likely need support to overcome it.
Step one- Intuitive eating
Intuitive eating is similar to food freedom but with a few more recommendations to follow. You eat whatever you want when you are hungry and then you stop eating when you are satisfied. This encourages us to tune back into our bodies and listen to what we need. This is what I did for several months during my recovery to health and happiness alongside working on my self-love and self-acceptance towards my body. This piece of the puzzle is vital to reach food and body freedom because most of the time we have a self-love problem, not a bodyweight problem.
I did lose weight during this process because I was no longer binge eating but I learn that it wasn’t about the weight. Don’t get me wrong, of course, there were several times where I fell back into old habits and emotions and overate but over time the binges stopped and I felt totally free around food. In intuitive eating nothing is off-limits. To begin with, I wanted cookie dough and chocolate all the time but when I had gotten over the ‘screw you’ mentality to the diet police that was in my head for so long, I was surprised to find that I wanted to eat other things. I randomly fancied a sweet potato with cheese and beans and salad. I was craving a green shake some days… This process takes time but it is SO worth it to end the dieting cycle.
Step 2 – Working towards health goals
When I had learnt how to accept and love myself, only then could I focus on my health goals. If you jump too soon to work towards this before you have a foundation of self-love and intuitive eating then it won’t work. You will slip back into dieting mentality and find yourself on the same cycle again.
Let me share with you my EAT method (pun intended!) that helped me to achieve my health goals of wanting to fuel my body with healthful foods:
E-eat what you enjoy
A- abundance mindset
T- Three key habits
Enjoying your food is SO IMPORTANT! Yes, you may know that ground turkey and green veggies are good for you, but if you can’t stand to look at another tuppawear containing that, then DON’T eat it! If you don’t enjoy your food then it will lead to bingeing because you will feel deprived mentally. There are 2 main reasons why we binge and they are either because we are not eating enough so it is biologically induced or we are no enjoying what we are eating and so it is mindset induced. You feel restricted and unsatisfied which is why you binge.
So what I did and what I encourage my clients to do is to accessorize your food! I’m talking croutons, cheese, sauces, dressings, chocolate chips… Think about what you can add to your meals to make it more satisfying to you. For example one of my health goals is to eat more veggies. I don’t particularly enjoy bland steamed veggies and so I get adventurous! I fry them in coconut oil and add loads of spices to them… I bake them with parmesan cheese over the top, I add sauces to them. The options are endless really and choosing to enable yourself to enjoy the veggies with some added accessories over not eating them at all is so beneficial to your health!
An abundance mindset is realizing that there will always be more tomorrow! If you are reading this then it means that you have a computer, a phone or a laptop. This may mean that you earn a living and you own a car. Which means that you are in a very privileged place. It also means that you can go to the shop and buy chocolate, bread, sweets, bagels etc tomorrow if you chose to. When you start to think this way you create an abundance mindset towards food over a scarcity mindset. A scarcity mindset around food is that you feel like you must eat it all now because tomorrow you’re starting your diet and you won’t be able to eat it again. (Let’s be honest, how many times have we all had the ‘final binge’!). If you’re at a restaurant and your full but you don’t wanna waste your meal then take it home with you and have it later or tomorrow! Abundance abundance abundance, plenty more where that came from!
The three key habits are 3 things that you need to do every day that will get you closer to your goals. So whether your goal is to become fit, get strong, eat more veggies, drink more water, lose fat, build muscle… whatever it is, get clear on 3 things that you will need to do daily that will bring you closer towards your goals. Then do them! If you don’t know what 3 things will get you closer to your goals then ask me to help you!
The key question
Instead of asking yourself, “How do I find balance with food?” Ask yourself “How do I create balance with food?” This is an important one because everyone is different! What foods make you feel good? What foods make you feel satisfied? What foods give you a tummy ache? What foods make you tired? What foods give you energy? What foods make me crave even more later?
If you want to find balance with food, you have got to spend time and effort working out what is best for YOU, not just copying what some influencer on social media is saying for you to do.
When you are on this journey of food freedom and body love, you need to give up the need to control everything. If you try to cling on to the results of wanting to lose weight or eat perfectly 100% of the time, it’s not going to work! You need to pour compassion into yourself and take baby steps each day towards your goals.
If you need help with any of the above I would love to help you! I have different options to work with me, hit the button below so we can discuss your individual needs.