I used to categorize foods as “good” or “bad” and I had a long list of foods I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to eat. Food is just food. No moral judgements should be placed on food. Of course, some foods are more nutrient dense than others but labelling foods “good” or “bad” and depriving ourselves of certain foods only leads us to obsessive food thoughts, cravings, overeating and binging.
How many times have you eaten a whole packet of biscuits, a bar of chocolate or tub of ice cream in the fear you won’t eat them again because your diet starts tomorrow? I did this so many times especially with jars of nut butter! Making peace with all foods is a key part of becoming an intuitive eater. When we truly give ourselves the go-ahead to eat what we like, it gives us time to tune in and experience the food for what it is, as well as eat it in a way that is pleasurable and satisfying.
If there is a food that you really love, how different would your experience be if you slowed down and tasted every bite without rushing to eat it quickly before anyone sees? The diet mentality leads us to all or nothing thinking which affects our hunger/fullness signals. When we make peace with all foods, we lose all or nothing thinking as we know we can eat this food anytime. We will also be able to eat it with attunement to our bodies.
I know what you are thinking. I thought this too. if I give myself permission will I be able to stop? I hear you. I have been there and that is because it takes time to let go of the diet mentality. We have been dieting for a long time and we get a lot of mixed messages that certain foods are either “good” or “bad” so this is a normal thought process. Making peace with food is certainly not easy, it is a hard step to take so starting small is the best way forward. Start by allowing yourself to enjoy one of your favourite foods. Pick a food that you have been restricting, or that has been on your “banned” list. Make sure you aren’t too hungry before you start. Sit down without any distractions and take 5 big deep breaths. Look at the food, what do you see? What does it look like? Smell the food. What does it smell like? Take your first bite and put down any utensils and chew slowly. What flavours and textures can you taste? Continue eating mindfully and slowly, enjoying every bite. Let go of the restriction, let go of the rules, enjoy it, savour every bite and trust yourself.
If you are ready to make peace with all foods then here are 3 steps to get you started.
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat foods that you really want to eat, rather than you think you should eat. If you really want a burger, but order a salad, that isn’t giving yourself unconditional permission.
Let go of the guilt and the idea that foods are “good” or “bad”. Remember food is just food. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. Foods do not hold moral judgement.
Eat foods in attunement. Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel after you eat them. Did you enjoy it? Was it satisfying? Were you energised? Make a mental note of this as making peace with foods includes being aware of how your body feels after all foods.