I walked into a grocery store, looked closely at the Fuji apple selections, picked one out and immediately started to assess whether it would fit into my macros for the day. Then I quickly rattled off the following:
“Is it a medium apple?”
“No, this looks slightly larger than a medium apple, so a large apple?”
“Hmm, maybe I should look at ounces. Is it 6 ounces?”
(Carefully, bouncing it in my palm to gauge an assessment of how much this apple is “worth”)
“I’m not sure…”
Does this dialogue sound similar to you? Do you often spend time analyzing each item you put in your grocery cart? Well, I don’t blame you, that inner dialogue occupied most of my life from 2009 to 2013.
Nowadays, we are inundated with information of how we should eat, what we shouldn’t eat, how to look at food, how food should make us feel, how we should feel about food, what’s a healthy option, what’s a bad option, etc.
You can’t blame us for the struggles we go through when trying to pick out an apple. We’ve moved away from “this one is red and looks delicious” to 10+ minutes trying to figure out how much it weighs and it’s worth in our routine.
I am a strong believer that food is multifaceted. You may be familiar with some of the common references below:
“Food is FUEL”
“Food is Nourishing”
“Food is Medicine”
“Food is Happiness”
“Food is Good”
“Food is healing”
“Eat to Live or Live to Eat”
My response, is YES, food can be all of the above. It can help replenish our bodies after a long workout. It can help serve as a healing resource for someone going through medical treatment (cancer). It can help boost our mood. It can help ease anxiety, reduce pain, and of course, it tastes good!
In this blog, I hope to help you uncover the role food may play for you and will specifically highlight this via the “Favorite Foods” worksheet below.
It's OKAY to Enjoy Eating
We often forget that it’s completely okay to enjoy what we eat. Culturally, we’ve been guilted or shamed into believing that raw kale should be consumed at every meal and that it’s not okay to enjoy ice cream on a Tuesday night.
This type of black and white mentality of food either being “good” or “bad” OR it being “healthy” or “not healthy” has the potential to lead to unfavorable eating habits (binging, excessive restriction), bland diets with poor success rate (unable to consistently abide by the “food rules”) and negative emotional attachments to specific foods.
So, I bring up this question:
If part of the puzzle to being successful long-term is food enjoyment, how much of what you’re eating do you actually enjoy or would consider a “favorite food?”
If you noticed that you’re actually not eating a lot of foods you enjoy, I can relate. I spent years eating foods I was told to eat because it was packed with nutrient dense vitamins. However, I didn’t enjoy it.
Most of the food I ate, I probably only enjoyed 15% of them. Determining what percentage of foods you can enjoy while still making or maintaining your progress will take some experimenting.
It's OKAY to Enjoy Eating
"If part of the puzzle to being successful long-term is food enjoyment, how much of what you’re eating do you actually enjoy or would consider a “favorite food?”
There are a few areas I would like to have you list which foods you enjoy in each category:
Jot down what foods come to mind that you actually enjoy eating in each category
Go through the list, filling it in one by one
Then, I’d like for you to go back through the list again and be very mindful you’re filling out the foods you enjoy versus the foods you THINK you should enjoy (When I had first done this exercise, I started listing out egg whites, tilapia, spinach, etc. Did I really enjoy those foods? No, I didn’t, but I spent 2 years telling myself I should because I felt that’s what I should enjoy)
Write down those foods and potentially erase others
If you need more guidance, you can refer to some of the suggestions on the infographic provided with the worksheet
After you go through your Favorite Foods Exercise, I’d encourage you to reflect on the following question:
How often am I enjoying the proteins (carbs, fruits, etc.) I listed?
Like I had mentioned earlier, enjoying what we do, what we eat and how we move can largely contribute to our compliance and success. So I would consider bringing some of the foods you listed above into your routine.
Below are some helpful steps:
Swap: Start swapping out the fruits you think you should eat for the fruits you actually LOVE. You can try this for each additional category (proteins, carbs, veggies, sweets, etc.).
Start “Whole”: Prioritize adding in the whole foods you enjoy. “Whole foods” are foods that you can find at the perimeter of the grocery store (produce, meats)
Be Honest: We all know that certain foods are more calorie dense, can increase anxiety, or can make us feel more lethargic. This exercise is not encouraging you to eat ONLY pop-tarts, strawberries and steak all day, rather, it’s encouraging you to give yourself permission to eat the foods you enjoy.
And remember this is all an experiment. Assess, reassess and draw up another experiment. Keep in mind that food fits into many categories; it is not singular. It’s actually really informative.
Here is a FREE Download to try this exercise yourself! Scroll down to the link provided below to download this infographic along with the accompanying worksheet.
Have fun with it!