The journey to finding freedom with food is never linear. Everyone's journey is different, but it can be easy to compare ourselves to someone else's journey and not see our own progress on our own path. In fact, the first few steps you take towards food freedom might not feel like they're steps, at all. So I wanted to share with you the first three things I did before I stepped into food freedom:
1. I went on a Whole30. And it WRECKED my life.
Friend- I'm not knocking the Whole30 if it works for you. I know it works great for some of you-- and this isn't a bashing-Whole30 post-- it was MY last straw. So keep reading. 👇🏼
I had spent SO many years restricting myself- on-again-off-again dieting, and this time, it was months post a fitness competition I had done- had a major health crash, was just coming out of it-- and decided I was going to do the program to work on some gut issues I had going on. It made sense to me then.
Within the first five days, I felt more restricted than I ever had in my entire life. Even though I had done similar programs before. Even though I had been counting macros for years prior, even though I was 'allowing' myself to eat foods I hadn't when I was competing-- I was a mess.
I was constantly angry. I was constantly hungry. I was so mad, all day, my husband and I were fighting nonstop (he was doing it with me), I was snapping at my kiddo (who was TWO at the time, guys) and I was just bitter. This was not how I wanted to live. I stuck it out (because I'm an Enneagram 1) but not before getting mad at my husband for 'cheating' because he ate some pickled onions that might have had sugar in them. Did I seem crazy enough to you?!
My point? It was TIME. It was my rock bottom moment. I was DONE with restriction. I was DONE with feeling like I had zero freedom-- even though the program promised that-- all I felt was more and more chained to my kitchen- a place I used to LOVE-- and exhausted with the process.
It was TIME. It was my rock bottom moment. I was DONE with restriction. I was DONE with feeling like I had zero freedom... all I felt was more and more chained to my kitchen- a place I used to LOVE-- and exhausted with the process.
2. I made the decision enough was enough.
I had already started listening to the Food Psych podcast-- but I wasn't ready to really HEAR the message yet. Now I was. I started digging in. I bought the Intuitive Eating book and I dove in head first.
But here's the thing: I still wasn't ready for all of it, yet. There were part of the Intuitive Eating process I felt really resistant to.
"But if I allow myself permission to eat all foods, won't I just keep gaining weight?"
(The answer is no, I would not- my body found it's set point size, and stayed there- and that's the goal with you, as well- but this is a real, legitimate fear, and I have SO much compassion for that).
"But what about HEALTH?!" (Spoiler alert: Intuitive Eating promotes healthy living- but it's also easy to just see pizza and brownies, and not see the salads and roasted veggie bowls that you might also eat intuitively)
"I'll never be able to get the food police out of my head. I know too much." (I felt like this for a LONG time. But friends, the food police are LONG gone. Some things just take time, and intention.)
"Will I really be able to stop when I'm full if I'm eating all of these delicious foods?!"
(The answer is- yes-- it's actually easier to stop when you are regularly eatings satisfying foods and not depriving yourself of pleasure).
3. I got really mad at diets. I got mad at diets for stealing so much of my life, my joy. I went through a phase of mourning that time in my life- the time and presence that was taken away from my daughter's early years (much of this time I had convinced myself what I was doing was healthy, so it would be benefitting her, too). I shared about the perils of dieting with my family and friends. I tried to warn everyone I encountered about the massive threat that is the diet industry. I write all this, tongue-in-cheek, because I'll admit I get a little passionate about things, sometimes. But it was a necessary part of my food freedom journey. It didn't necessarily help others (see again: you need to be ready and willing to make a change like stepping away from dieting and restriction) but I needed to be firm in my stance: dieting stole my life. Restriction stole my joy. And I was claiming it back.
So all of this is to say, the first steps I took towards food freedom weren't anything huge. I didn't all of a sudden adopt intuitive eating as my lifestyle. I took it one step at a time. I needed to be ready for it, and I needed to get my mindset in the right place in order to embrace and move forward in my intuitive eating journey before food freedom became a reality. And even after I had gone through working with an intuitive eating counselor, dug into the intuitive eating workbook-- I still needed time to work out a few kinks before I could truly say I had freedom with food. But I can now. Total, and complete freedom. To eat what I want, when I want it. To make choices that serve me, whether it be for nourishment, or pleasure- without guilt. I don't feel the need to jump on a cleanse to make up for having a couple slices of pizza or an ice cream cone over the weekend. I choose the salad because I want the salad, and the burger because I want the burger. The only food I avoid 99% is potatoes, because they make me pass out (true story, and yes, I know it's weird).
This can be your reality too. Healthy living, without a side of guilt. Uncomplicated eating.
Slowly but surely, eating becomes easier. Food feels less difficult to navigate. Dinner becomes more joyful- so does eating at restaurants, grabbing a snack when you're out and about- the stress begins to melt as you step into your beautiful balance.
Here's what I want you to glean from the steps I took at the beginning of my food freedom journey:
Everyone's journey is different. Wherever you are at in your journey is a-ok. It's ok if you're not ready for all of it. One step is all it takes to begin.
It starts with the decision. That's it. Just a decision that you don't want to live in the confines of diets, calorie counting or stressing over food.
It's ok to have mixed feelings about some parts of it. It's ok to have doubts and not embrace it fully at first. Keep taking steps and they will work themselves out.
It's ok to feel a little bit pissed. The diet industry is a 50 billion dollar industry for a reason. It wants you to keep coming back, keep spending money and keep feeling sorry for yourself. It stinks- but it's reality, and it's ok if you're not cool with it. You've made the decision to take back your life, now make it happen.
It's ok if it feels a little hard, at first. But the difference in hard, with dieting and finding food freedom- is that the early stages of food freedom, where it feels a little rocky and uncertain, and you might be doubting yourself and your decision to step away from dieting- is the hard is temporary. Slowly but surely, eating becomes easier. Food feels less difficult to navigate. Dinner becomes more joyful- so does eating at restaurants, grabbing a snack when you're out and about- the stress begins to melt as you step into your beautiful balance.
Are you ready to take the next step?
Sign up for a free 45-minute coaching call, with me. This is YOUR time, one on one, with me, to share your dreams of stepping into food freedom and living the healthy, happy life you imagine- but aren't sure how to get there. I'll help you create that game plan- to move forward, with grace, compassion, towards the life you desire to live. Sometimes all you need is an hour for you, every other week. I'm ready to listen.