Can Healthy Eating Be Unhealthy?
If eating healthy is good for us, surely eating healthier and healthiest is even better, right? What if I told you that maybe it’s not. And definitely not in some cases and for some people. Let’s take a moment to chat about this (very important) topic…
I want you to take a real honest moment to think about your relationship with food, and how you feel about food. Just as important as what you eat is why you do so - your intention behind your choices. Eating should be a form of self-love, not self-harm.
Constantly being surrounded by a culture that’s so hyper-focused on fad diets, weight loss, detoxes, 6-pack abs and superfoods, it can be really really hard not to fall into a bad place with food. Feeling like we should be following certain rules like they’re a religion. Feeling like we need to count calories, label our food choices, not eat this or that at any cost, and definitely not break any of those rules if we want to stay healthy and keep a flat tummy. Right?
Wrong. It breaks my heart to see the number of girls (and guys), whose minds are consumed with food rules and strict diet regimes and fears. I know all too well how lost you can feel when everyone seems to preach something different and none of it seems to work for you like it does for them. Trust me, I’ve been there. Confined in the prison of my own food rules, not able to enjoy myself or relax around food, overthinking every piece of food that passed my lips and thinking about food 24/7. Don’t even mention breaking any of those rules or eating out at a restaurant, the equivalent of my worst nightmare!
The truth is, healthy eating can become extremely unhealthy when it leads to strict rules, obsessions, stress and anxiety around food. No food in the entire world damages the body, mind and soul anywhere near as much as an unhealthy relationship with food does. Unnecessary strict food rules that come from a place of negativity and self deprivation don’t do anything for us in the long run...they lead to disordered eating, social isolation, stress, anxiety, feeling like a failure, possible nutritional deficiencies and health problems, and binge eating. Doesn’t sound so healthy now does it?
Creating guidelines around what we eat CAN be healthy. Nourishing your body with wholesome and nutritious foods, and having some structure in your eating, as a form of self-care to maintain your wellbeing. It’s a way to show up for your body. It is also healthy to eat in alignment with your needs and your personal value system.
But only YOU can know your mindset and intentions behind food choices and whether they are coming from a place of self love, or self harm.
It’s really important to take a step back and reflect on your relationship with food and any food rules that may exist in your head every so often and ask yourself the following questions:
• How do I feel about the food I eat (or don’t eat) and how does it make me feel?
• Are my food habits and ‘rules’ bringing me to a place of better physical and mental health? Or are they doing the opposite?
• Do they exist for a medical reason (such as a diagnosed allergy or health condition)? Or did I invent them?
• Did I read about them on social media or on a blog and decide to adopt them without really knowing if they are evidence-based or apply to me?
• Do I enjoy the food I eat? Does the way I eat and the way I think about the food I eat support and nourish my body, mind and soul?
• Is this food choice an act of self deprivation or neglect, or is it an act of self love and self care?
If your food choices and ‘rules’ aren’t bringing you towards a place of better physical and mental health (and yes, that includes nourishing your soul, especially if you are coming from a past of a negative relationship with food!), then they aren’t serving you in any way, and your life will be so much more free without them. You will be healthier without them. Body, mind and soul. Promise.
If you feel like you are struggling with your relationship with food and have slipped into some self destructive thought and behaviour patterns around food and body image, please reach out for help. Helping others find balance and make peace with food is something I am so passionate about, and I would love to help you too. If you’d like to book a one-on-one session together, please get in touch with me via email, or check out what some of the other amazing people I have worked with have said here. You are not alone.