These were the words I feared other people saying if I was to ever stray from my healthy eating in front of them.
I use to think perfection = health. And if I had a reputation for healthy eating, then I better be bloody perfect in front of everyone.
Now, I know that the word healthy has many different meanings. What one person thinks is healthy, the next person might not. You have your own definition of health, which will more than likely change as you expand your knowledge over time. I’ve gone from thinking diet shakes are healthy (…I know!) to thinking they are nothing more than absolute junk food. Ok not even junk food just junk.
In any case, in terms of the general sense of the word, people label me as a healthy eater.
Are you considered a healthy eater? ‘The healthy one’ perhaps?
Does the pressure get to you?
It totally got me! How can I possiblly eat these chips in front of my friends, I’m the healthy one!? I preach about whole foods and avoiding sugar, I can’t join in on the birthday cake!? I’ll just have a salad instead and then binge on 10 slices of bread later because I’m so frustrated and unsatisfied.
That sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s what normally goes down when you crumble under the pressure of trying to be a perfect picture of health. Which one sounds better; mindfully eating a piece of birthday cake with friends or eating 10 slices of bread quickly in the kitchen before anyone sees you. Hmmm…
It wasn’t until I decided to let go of my belief – one that I gripped onto SO tightly – that I had to eat perfect to be healthy, or I may as well give up. I had to literally pry my fingers off of gripping onto that thought. I had believed it so long. But I was tired of it and I was ready for balance.
Now my definition of health is balance. Oh what a beautiful word. My favourite.
Once I started practising balance and listening to my body, I realised I didn’t have to put on a show. I adore healthy food, but if there is birthday cake, and I genuinely feel like a piece, I will have it, EVEN if it means I eat it in front of other people. I eat it with all my attention and feel satisfied. It means emotional/secretive eating falls away with ease because I don’t need to fill that dissatisfaction of not listening to my body. Of course it’s uncomfortable at first if you are not use to it, but the more you tap into to what your body truly wants, and follow it, the more comfortable you will feel listening to it in front of other people.
I love picturing 90 year old Jess. (She’s a super flexi yogi by the way, who is totally up to date with technology.) What does she want to look back on? A life full of zest, not sweating the small stuff, being a concious eater, LOVING myself and my body AND listening to what it wants? Trusting it’s clever intuition?
I know she doesn’t want to look back and think; Oh I actually did look OK, why did I hate myself? Why did I spend so many moments cursing myself in the mirror. Why did I deny my cravings? Why didn’t I just laugh and enjoy food and eat what I felt like and respect my body’s fullness. Why did I cry that I ate breaded broccoli? (Yes that happened! A story for another time.) This always puts things into perspective for me if I’m beginning to stress about food and eating.
My point today is that if you are feeling the pressure to uphold a healthy reputation in front of people, maybe you need to reassess what your idea of health is. Is it being perfect? Because I am here to tell you there is no such thing. Even the healthiest person in the world isn’t perfect. People you follow online who inspire and motivate you with their healthy meals and lifestyle aren’t perfect. And that is more than OK.
If you allow yourself to mindfully eat foods which you love, even if they don’t really fit into your belief of what’s healthy, the better relationship you will have with food and your body.
And the more you do that in front of other people, the more you will inspire them to do the same.