Food Is Meant To Be Eaten

It is a just-after-dawn Monday morning as I am writing this.  Normally, I would not point out such a thing but in this case I need you to understand it is very early on a Monday.  I’m sitting at my desk where I have a mostly unobstructed view of a six-foot wide picture window.  While I’m cruising Facebook or giving my silent opinion on which celebrity wore what dress best I can watch the day break.  This morning’s day is breaking a little different.  Since I am in the midst of transformation I have “liked” dozens of Facebook pages devoted to diet, fitness, and exercise along with my very large group of inspirational, transformational types.  But on this Monday morning many of them are focused on a similar theme–forgiving one’s self for eating particularly on the weekend.

The messages caused me to take a step back.

Food is not meant to be forgiven.  Food is meant to be eaten.

Perhaps the notion of needing forgiveness for eating any number of calories is the real problem in our collective psyche.  Perhaps that is the reason why so many people are overweight and struggling.  Perhaps too few people know a normal, healthy, active American woman should eat around 2,000 calories a day.  Men are in the 2,500 calorie range.

I can almost hear a universal gasp as I typed, “around 2,000 calories a day” because I know women, and a few men, who think eating that number a sin.

Food is not a sin.

Gluttony, yes.

Eating to sustain and support a healthy body, never.

Copied with permission from 100 Days of Real Food Copied with permission from 100 Days of Real Food For the last couple days I've asked my girls to make their own school lunches. I've been loving this for two reasons: 1st (the obvious) - I don't have to do it! and 2nd - They eat almost 100% of everything they pack themselves. I told them if they packed a balanced, nice-looking lunch that included veggies I would take a picture of it to share (with you guys of course!). They both immediately wanted to make the most photo-worthy lunch possible (sometimes it's the little things LOL) so I of course ended up taking a picture of everything they've made. They clearly have a lot more fun using all the different lunch boxes we own (unlike me) AND they also obviously like to take bites and eat samples along the way - even during the picture taking. The food they packed includes plain yogurt mixed with our new homemade strawberry jam, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, whole-wheat cinnamon bread and cream cheese sandwiches, cashews and sunflower seeds, oranges, pineapple, leftover chicken and cauliflower, and I am honestly not sure what's on that one sandwich at the top right.  For the last couple days I've asked my girls to make their own school lunches. I've been loving this for two reasons: 1st (the obvious) - I don't have to do it! and 2nd - They eat almost 100% of everything they pack themselves. I told them if they packed a balanced, nice-looking lunch that included veggies I would take a picture of it to share (with you guys of course!). They both immediately wanted to make the most photo-worthy lunch possible (sometimes it's the little things LOL) so I of course ended up taking a picture of everything they've made. They clearly have a lot more fun using all the different lunch boxes we own (unlike me) AND they also obviously like to take bites and eat samples along the way - even during the picture taking. The food they packed includes plain yogurt mixed with our new homemade strawberry jam, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, whole-wheat cinnamon bread and cream cheese sandwiches, cashews and sunflower seeds, oranges, pineapple, leftover chicken and cauliflower, and I am honestly not sure what's on that one sandwich at the top right.

Copied with permission from 100 Days of Real Food
Copied with permission from 100 Days of Real Food For the last couple days I’ve asked my girls to make their own school lunches. I’ve been loving this for two reasons: 1st (the obvious) – I don’t have to do it! and 2nd – They eat almost 100% of everything they pack themselves. I told them if they packed a balanced, nice-looking lunch that included veggies I would take a picture of it to share (with you guys of course!). They both immediately wanted to make the most photo-worthy lunch possible (sometimes it’s the little things LOL) so I of course ended up taking a picture of everything they’ve made. They clearly have a lot more fun using all the different lunch boxes we own (unlike me) AND they also obviously like to take bites and eat samples along the way – even during the picture taking. The food they packed includes plain yogurt mixed with our new homemade strawberry jam, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, whole-wheat cinnamon bread and cream cheese sandwiches, cashews and sunflower seeds, oranges, pineapple, leftover chicken and cauliflower, and I am honestly not sure what’s on that one sandwich at the top right.
For the last couple days I’ve asked my girls to make their own school lunches. I’ve been loving this for two reasons: 1st (the obvious) – I don’t have to do it! and 2nd – They eat almost 100% of everything they pack themselves. I told them if they packed a balanced, nice-looking lunch that included veggies I would take a picture of it to share (with you guys of course!). They both immediately wanted to make the most photo-worthy lunch possible (sometimes it’s the little things LOL) so I of course ended up taking a picture of everything they’ve made. They clearly have a lot more fun using all the different lunch boxes we own (unlike me) AND they also obviously like to take bites and eat samples along the way – even during the picture taking.
The food they packed includes plain yogurt mixed with our new homemade strawberry jam, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, whole-wheat cinnamon bread and cream cheese sandwiches, cashews and sunflower seeds, oranges, pineapple, leftover chicken and cauliflower, and I am honestly not sure what’s on that one sandwich at the top right.

And yet so many of us, feel the need to beat ourselves up over a perceived diet transgression.  Notice I said us.  Yep, I’m guilty from time to time about feeling bad about eating food.

And, it needs to STOP!!!

One of the pages offering this Monday morning advice suggested “be extra gentle with yourself for next few days.”

DAYS.

Yes, days to recover from eating a little too much.

I remember that feeling.  I remember saying it.  I remember encouraging others to wallow in the misery of eating.

Today, I admit I was wrong to ever feel that and to encourage others to feel that way too.

This Monday morning after a Reward Day (Chris Powell’s Carb Cycling program) of eating 2,423 calories do you want to know what I feel?

Nothing.

Okay not nothing.

I feel ready to get back to work.

I do not feel bad about that number of calories.  If anything, I am disappointed there was not a couple hundred more.  Yes, I said more.  A “normal” Reward Day for me should be closer to 2,800 calories.  Yesterday was a comedy of errors.  My dinner was one cookie, a cup of chocolate pudding made with non-dairy milk (trying it to see if it worked and it did), and a bowl of oatmeal.  It was supposed to be chicken fried steak with all the fixins but an extra long nap took care of that.  My dinner isn’t what I planned, or wanted, or even what I would normally ever call dinner.  But, thankfully it was Reward Day so I could “get away with it.”  Oh look there I go thinking those foods are wrong.

So again I ask, isn’t that sort of behavior part of our problem?

When there is an entry in the DSM (the diagnostic manual of the mental health field) for “disordered eating,” which is not the same as an eating disorder and is defined as any irregular eating pattern not described as anorexia or bulimia, then I have to insist the answer is yes.  I am not a mental health or other health professional but in my opinion the more we assign “goodness” or “badness” to food and eating the more disordered the behavior becomes.

Food is not, and should not ever be, a walk of shame.  Food should be nourishment alone.  Food is fuel and it is meant to be eaten.

As a recovering obese woman, I am the first one to raise my hand and say I haven’t always had the best relationship with food.  But, notice I said I am recovering.  In part I was raised by a woman who became totally unhinged at the thought of a partly eaten bag of chips on the fridge who could not rest until she devoured the whole thing and who still suffers this way.  However, today I am proud to say there has been a bag of my favorite sweet potato chips in my cupboard for over a month and I have not felt one twinge of compulsion that I simply must eat the rest of the bag before my life could go on–and I have been that way for a very long time now.

Yesterday I ate two whole ounces of sweet potato and beet chips while I was watching football without one ounce of drama.

This morning, I recognize there are way too many people out there feeling dramatic about what they ate yesterday.  If that is you, stop.  Please, just stop feeling bad about food.

You ate it.

Yesterday.

Today you are going to eat more food.  The Bento lunches you see were packed by 100 Day’s of Real Food’s Lisa Leake’s elementary-age children.  Just kids.  Kids who know how to eat good food.  For more information about whole-food eating please visit Lisa’s amazing blog 100 Days of Real Food.

So now you can decide all hope is lost or you can love yourself, and trust yourself enough to make better choices today.

If doing it for a whole day still feels scary, make your next meal spot-on and celebrate those choices.  Use a Bento box.  They are a great resource for learning portion control.  Then, do it again next time.

Doesn’t the happy feeling of healthy choices feel so much better than beating yourself up over not so great but totally normal choices?

Normal.  Everyone eats more than they should from time to time.  It happens.  To everyone.  But calling yourself names or worse because you did it is not a healthy attitude toward food.

My best advice: Make peace with food.  Make your next meal your best meal. Your new life awaits.

PS…This very long post wouldn’t be possible without the generous permission of Lisa Leake.  Her cookbook “100 Days of Real Food” drops 26 August 2014.  If you’re looking for wonderful ideas about how to eat real food please check her out.

PSS…I would like to point out I had a disastrous food day–three protein bars in one day and one of which was one of the most vile things I ever swallowed–but my dinner of garlic pepper chicken, cast iron roasted cauliflower, and gingered carrots righted my ship in no time.  Because I absolutely live every word I’ve written to you I put my day in the past and a wholesome, real food dinner in my belly.  Eat.  It’s good for you.

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One Size Definitely Does NOT Fit All–CI #95

Oh wow it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these.  Honestly, I have been teetering on the edge of not being very nice to myself for it either.  So I’m here to say to myself “You did it now go do something else you need to do.”

What’s been keeping me?

My hubs finally is having surgery on his knee next week.
My thyroid’s been wacky.
I have had a kid go through a mini-crisis.
My time has been cut-up into weird chunks and I’m just superstitious enough of a writer to think it’s cast a funky mojo on my creativity.
The county fair took a couple of weeks too.
The weather–Monsoon season to be precise.  It’s the roller coaster of the weather world–60+ percent humidity, rain and 90+ degree heat all at once.
Our cruise, the reason I started this whole project-first was moved and now is cancelled, most likely.  There’s a slim chance we will still go this year.

You know, “normal” life stress.

*rolling my eyes*

And then there is this project.

The Give It 100 rules changed and I did not like it but I got over it.  Then all of the above happened and I found myself needing to cut a few things loose.  This video project which actually consumes more time than you would imagine was one of those things.  Today, I am hugely grateful for the changes to the Give It 100 format and for the opportunity to finish what I started…and to start another video project (it’s a secret for now so I am just telling you to annoy you…lol).

While I am here, I would like to climb on my soapbox a moment.  Since this is my space I can do that 🙂

Here goes…I have been frustrated lately by how many times I see people say “I can’t” or “I won’t” simply because whatever tool is before them does not fit them perfectly so I am using this space to scream……

GET OVER IT and GET OVER YOURSELF and QUIT USING IT AS AN EXCUSE TO SET YOURSELF UP TO FAIL

For heaven’s sakes, use the collective genius of the world, and use your brain to make your own decisions about how to use that information in your own situation.

Whew!

Now that, that is off my chest let me explain.

You are limiting yourself if you are looking for a perfect, one size fits all solution that does not require any of your own genius to maintain.

Limiting.

Yourself.

I am on a mission to transform my life so I do look to a lot of genius types for help.  I take what works for me and I leave what doesn’t.

Is it because I do not want to follow a plan or be told what to do or how to conduct my life, NO!  It is because I have a lot of things to consider.

Image Credit: Oglivie Design

Image Credit: Oglivie Design

As a writer of a transformational book–oh yeah that’s been chipping away at my time too–I know once someone develops an idea to the point it is replicable by the masses it also become watered down to the point of being generic.  Why?  Because it is utterly impossible to address advice to the masses which is perfectly suited to each and every individual situation.

For example, Burpees are a thing in the exercise world right now.  They are a fantastic exercise.  I used to do them.  But…Now, I cannot.  The thought of taking my vertigo alone through that sequence makes me laugh.  I’d break something or someone!  So if someone tries to tell me the only way to burn fat is to do Burpees I can choose to believe that or I can use my own intellect to know that is not wise advice for me and move on…without drama, without creating a scene about my inability to do a Burpee or ranting about their stupidity for insisting on them.  Instead, I choose to use my own brain AND find what I CAN do without wasting a moment’s energy on what I cannot.  In my case, I also fired the trainer who insisted I do them because “They are the only way to really burn fat.”

In all fairness to Burpees, I also did not sign with the private yoga instructor who insisted on hour-long sessions three times a week either because I know my medical conditions better than to try to start there.  I tried to explain but she was so convinced her system was the only way she did not get my money.

In fact, I have yet to find a trainer that will start with where my body is now and help me work it up to where they and I would want it to be.  I am offering them money for their time and they are saying no because where I am is not worth their effort or time.  Crazy, huh?  But, I also have not stopped searching

If anyone says, it’s “My way or the highway” and you have a chronic disease of any sort they are automatically NOT the trainer or support person for you.  That leaves a lot of us chronic chickies on our own to find what works for us.  The utterly sad thing is when I see “normal” people say they “can’t” because something does work for them so I know it is not just a “sick person” thing to do.  So well or sick please, I am begging you, do not be afraid to get creative.  I am proof-positive creative solutions work.

Years ago I was a member of a fibromyalgia support group and suggested the “Sit and Be Fit” exercise series to some group members.  It is one of the things I have used to get my fitness on because it is what I CAN do.  Some excited members looked it up only to return and scold me, “We don’t have arthritis, Tanya, what we NEED is someone with fibro to show us how to exercise.”  Good Golly Miss Molly!  Here is someone with fibro…ME….telling you how she uses the program and how you can exercise and just because it’s “for” people with arthritis and not fibromyalgia they limited themselves by it cannot possibly be useful to someone with fibromyalgia.  Aye Carumba!

I’m here to tell you in my early exercising-with-fibro days I learned a TON from watching old, arthritic people exercise.  They move slowly and gently but deliberately.  I’ll even go so far as to admit in the beginning they moved BETTER than I could so I copied their fine example until I could move like that too.

That was almost three years ago.  I have graduated beyond the “Sit and Be Fit” exercise routines.  I am nowhere near Burpees and hour-long yoga classes but that is okay.  I have lost almost 35 pounds WITH fibromyalgia and thyroid disease while not following Chris Powell’s Carb Cycling program to a tee and by not exercising like a “normal” person would.

I feel sorry for the people who have a need to have every single thing in their lives tailor-prescribed for them by someone else instead of collecting the wisdom of the world available at their fingertips and tailoring it to fit their own individual needs.

Think about this: Few of the great inventors had any sort of blueprint when they started.  The simple desire to create a solution was their only spark.

The essence of transformation is creating sustainable, personal solutions.

You can do that, can’t you?

My best advice: Get Creative!  Do not be afraid to tweak things to match your ability and health because the truth is your ability and health depend on it.

PS….Yes, I understand the inherent hypocrisy of this ranting post when I’ve advised you to not rant and find what works but frankly there are not enough of you believing in yourself that I feel I needed to be the one to say something.