I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in denial of how I eat. I’ve always considered myself to be a healthy eater, and generally speaking, a health-conscious person. I eat healthy foods and believe in regular exercise. By no means am I significantly overweight or unhappy with my body. However, after recently fallen victim to the “Perfection Pit” (see: Falling Victim To The Dangers Of Perfection) of wanting to achieve the “Perfect Body,” I’d become acutely more aware of the psychology behind some of my eating habits. While I can defend and justify my poorer eating habits until I’m blue in the face to myself and others, I think I’m ready to finally admit the truth of how things really stand…
I’m in denial of how I eat.
Here’s how I convince myself I’m a healthy eater:
- I eat organic/ Non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and occasional dairy products
- I take it easy on added sugars and drink seltzer instead of soda
- I don’t overdo it on the alcohol
- I avoid buying desserts while grocery shopping
So far so good.
Here’s how I convince myself I’m a health-conscious person:
- I exercise almost every day of the week
- I work out for over 30 minutes a day
- I try to throw in a 3-mile run and do a 15-20 minute weight workout afterward to keep it well rounded
- Some days I go for long walks, do yoga, or load up a YouTube Barre workout
- Other days I do HIIT and circuit training exercises.
Now, here’s how it unravels.
“I worked out today. I can justify eating more”
“I’m craving salt.” “Now I’m craving sugar.” “Now I’m just snacking, so all bets are off”
“I had a long day / I’m tired / I’m stressed”
“I don’t want to be hungry later, so I’ll eat a bigger serving size now”
“I don’t feel full, so I can have another helping”
“I’ll offend them if I don’t accept what they’re offering”
“It’s 12:00. Time for lunch”
“I’m watching a movie. I need some popcorn and a glass of wine”
The excuses are plentiful.
Ultimately, I know when I’m hungry and I know when I’m full. I know when I should eat, and I know when it’s time to stop.
The reality is… I lack the control to sometimes do so on my own. The sad part? I won’t admit it to myself that I lack the discipline to control my poor eating habits. I don’t want to admit that this is a weakness in myself. Therefore, I pardon my thoughts and behaviors by finding all different ways to justify my poor eating decisions so I don’t feel guilty.
As an American kid, I was used to big serving sizes and the expectation that I had to finish my plate. I was actually told that I couldn’t leave the table until I made a genuine effort to eat everything left in front of me.
Our family ate around a regimented eating schedule. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were at the same time every day. Regardless of when our last meal was finished, snacks were provided on the kitchen counters in-between entrees to prevent hunger. When guests were invited over, snacks, appetizers, and desserts took over the kitchen. Food was constantly out in the open. Eating was the social grace that entertainment was always based around. It was rude not to provide enough food for your guests to enjoy, and it was rude not to accept an offering of food from a guest in return.
Eating became constant and the experience of feeling hunger pangs became non-existent.
I’ve always been envious of other cultures and their healthier relationships with food. Europeans, in my opinion, all appear to be “delicately indulgent eaters”. Grand generalization, I know, but for the most part, I believe this to be true. They enjoy wine, bread, desserts, etc., and exude complete satisfaction with smaller serving sizes, the need to eat less throughout the day (without all of the snacking), and gracefully accept satiety. They seem to enjoy and maintain a healthy relationship with food.
So here’s where I’m at.
In an effort to “get real” with myself, I’ve decided to “do as the Europeans do” for a month.
My emphasis will be less on exercising and more on eating. I will actually take an entire month off of rigorous exercise to focus all of my attention on my relationship with food.
Eating starts with hunger. And feeling hungry is okay.
Snacking is out of the equation. I’ll indulge in dessert and wine and bread in a controlled and mindful way. I’ll do the best I can to disassociate feelings of guilt, lack of discipline / control, and weakness in my relationship with food. I will politely decline generous food offerings at social settings if I am full and can no longer tolerate anything additional.
I’m going to work hard on myself this next month. It’s not going to be easy challenging old self-mantras, breaking a childhood of eating habits, and laying low on my normal exercise routine. However, if I truly want to improve my self and have a healthier relationship with food, I need to be honest with myself and really put in the work. Let’s see how this goes!