So how do we know when we are actually building a healthy relationship with food? Are you waiting for it to be absolutely perfect? Are you waiting to feel like this picture?
Well don't because perfection doesn't exist (in any form really). Remember (re)building a healthy relationship with food is about progress NOT perfection. Having a sense of food freedom doesn't happen overnight nor does it feel consistent but there are some ways to feel like you're on your way.
You go out to eat and actually order what you wanted. You didn't think of the occasion as a bargaining tool (I worked out for X amount of hours so I can eat this) and just enjoyed the experience. This is especially triumphant when the menus annoyingly place calorie amounts next to food items. It's a very liberating feeling to go someplace and actually tune into your wants without the side of guilt. Whether it was the Cobb salad or the chicken sandwich. It doesn't matter. You don't owe anyone an explanation for your choices and you are allowed to eat what you want.
You begin to choose foods based on personal preferences not external factors. What do I mean when I say external factors? While dieting, you might have been looking at the calorie information or serving sizes for basing your decision. When you choose foods based on YOUR wants, that's food freedom. That might mean eating more or less than what a package dictates. And please note that the packaging is a tool for marketing purposes. This could also look like eating when you feel hungry and not waiting until a certain time (lunchtime or dinnertime) to eat. We have been programmed in a way to follow timed cues instead of hunger cues. Think back to childhood when you were given a schedule and the times to eat were listed. This sort of thinking has stayed with many of us and we can feel confused as adults when we are hungry and it's not quite noon yet. With food freedom, you realize that you can eat at any given time and that it is okay to fulfill hunger.
You lose the feeling of having to "burn off" your food. There's nothing wrong with getting in some movement and in fact it is highly encouraged. However, if you are viewing moving your body solely as a means to burn off your calories or food, then that's still diet culture. But, if you are finding ways to move in a way that you like without doing calculations of food you can eat afterward, that's freedom. Instead of thinking about burning, toning, lengthening, etc., think about getting stronger, building stamina, clearing your mind, getting in endorphins and serotonin.
In the News:
The Cosmopolitan UK February 2021 is STILL making waves. I gave my take on it to Insider. Please note that there are other broad views on the topic of HAES in this article, but my 2 cents on the topic was quoted as the following:
"Focusing on a number, whether on the scale or your clothing size, leads to being obsessive with eating and exercise and losing the enjoyment. We need to start getting used to the idea of body diversity," Spence said. "Everyone has a predisposed body type which is influenced largely by genetics. Not everyone is going to be thin, can be thin, or even wants to be thin."
Also, what are some tips on fueling your body for a work out? I give my advice below, but of course everyone is different:
I am not sure how you feel about yourself when you look back on old photographs or comb through your memories, but I do know you were meant to change. I do know you were not meant to stay the same for every stage of your life. You were meant to grow. You were meant to meet new people, travel to new places, and learn valuable new lessons.
- Morgan Harper Nichols