Living a Life of Food Freedom and How That Looks in a World of Comparison
The internet is a crazy thing, isn’t it? I mean, I am a big fan of social media and blogging (obviously) and Facebook, etc. but man it is a comparison trap if I don’t watch it. I feel like as women, it is even harder to surf through the countless perfect posts, endless selfies of beautiful people and not feel a twinge of that unwanted feeling of comparison. I find myself doing this often and in ways that I don’t even expect, like “Oh man, they get all of their groceries at Whole Foods, I should shop there more…” or “That dress is adorable, I think I need that too.” or “How is she running faster than me and I’ve trained way longer than she has…” blah blah blah.
I also feel like this sometimes, when I look at what others are eating. Comparison doesn’t always show up in body image or style, but can more subtly come in the form of food comparison.
And that’s what I want to touch on today.
If you didn’t know already, I struggled and went through – conquered an eating disorder when I was in my junior/senior year of high school. It was all through Jesus’ power that He freed me from that mindset and brought me into a place of abundance. I remember back in the depths of my eating disorder, I would routinely, hourly, etc. compare what I was eating with what other people were eating. If I wasn’t eating the healthiest option or the smallest portion, I was NOT happy and it literally ruined my breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Looking back, I can see just how sick of a mindset that is and how ridiculous it sounds to compare what I am eating to what everyone else is.
But, I wonder, how often time it shows up in a more subtle way in my life, our lives. Now that I am free from an eating disorder (praise to Jesus!) I don’t live minute by minute for food. I don’t continually dwell on what I am going to eat next or how many calories that cookie has in it. However, I’ve noticed through social media and blogs, I can feel that sense of ‘guilt’ or food comparison creep back into my heart and I don’t want that.
It is easy to look at all of these beautiful, healthy, amazing, nutritious meals and feel like, ‘I should be making/eating/ cooking that instead of my fun treat meal I was making for my husband and I.” BUT that is not true freedom, and I want to beware of that.
So, how do we navigate through these sticky situations and find true freedom and balance in a world of food comparison?
For me, I find it helpful to remember what my own personal, nutritional goals are and not let what others are doing make me do something else. That may sound vague, so I want to clarify.
Food freedom (for me) doesn’t mean I throw out all my desire for and knowledge of good, healthy nutrition and just eat whatever I want. It doesn’t mean I just throw in the towel and live off canisters of Pringle’s. It doesn’t mean that I don’t allow myself to have the freedom (yes, freedom) to try out different forms of nutrition strategy (i.e. Carb cycling, Paleo, etc.).
It DOES ME (for me), however, that I do not live in fear of foods, for foods, compare foods or feel like I have to justify a bowl of ice cream. It means that I can and want to allow myself to eat my favorite, treat foods, but in the best timing.
What do I mean by best timing?
A practical example is my current popcorn addiction. Guys, I seriously love munching on big bowls of popcorn and thoroughly enjoy it as an evening snack. But, before a long run, all the fiber that comes with popcorn is not the best choice right before the morning of a long run. So, instead of eating popcorn I can have the freedom to say ‘No,’ because I am choosing to have it at another time. I am choosing to enjoy one of my favorite foods at a later time because it impacts my running in a negative way.
Food freedom means that I am able to enjoy anything I want, but in moderation and with my nutrition/ fitness goals in mind. And if I see someone eating something a bit healthier than me, I cheer them on. If Grandma offers me a cookie that she spent time making, I choose to say yes.
Everyone has different food strategies and beliefs and opinions, but I hope that you can enjoy life. I hope you are able to savor that piece of pie with your sister, I hope you are able to say no to foods you know are not good for your body, and learn to enjoy fresh, local, and natural foods. I hope you are able to create a delicious batch of homemade ice cream, while also loving your fresh grilled chicken salad.
I hope you have goals for your nutrition and an idea of why you eat what you eat, but more than that, I hope you live a life of freedom – the freedom to say ‘Yes,’ and, in contrast, the freedom to say, ‘No.’
Questions of the Day
- What are your thoughts on food comparison?
- Do you have any food philosophies?
- What is the best part of your Wednesday!?