Go ahead and indulge. You heard me right…eat the donut. Or, the side of fries. Or, the slice of pizza.
Because it’s part of a healthy diet.
There’s no gimmick here. No reverse psychology. No tricks or “gotcha’s.”
Lighten up. Enjoy yourself. Live a little.
Stop thinking that a healthy diet means totally depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy.
Is Your Healthy Diet too Healthy?
Confession time: I tend to attract patients into my practice who are like me…the type-A, perfectionist, over-achieving types.
While there are aspects of these qualities that are gold-star inducing, this personality type can have an unhealthy relationship with healthy food.
Patients often sit in my office like it’s a confessional… “I’m so sorry doc, I sinned. Last weekend I couldn’t help myself…I ate a donut.”
Imagine their surprise when I laugh and say, “That’s okay! Let’s talk about it.”
Most of the people I work with are healthy eaters and make great choices.
They’re not the type of people who eat fast food, pizza, pasta, and drink gallons of soda, coffee or wine.
But, they go to the extreme of eating too healthy.
And, when they indulge and eat the donut, they feel really bad about themselves.
The downward cycle of negativity gets triggered and feelings of shame, guilt, and self-deprivation emerge.
The feelings of guilt, shame, blame, or self-hatred are far more toxic to your health than the food you indulged.
Chronic negative feelings create recurring stress in your body leading to anxiety, depression, and even mood and eating disorders.
It’s not good to be uptight, overly aware, rigid, and perfectionistic!
That’s why I tell patients they can eat cake (in moderation, of course).
Please note that, I still encourage “healthier cake” free of known food sensitivities and made with organic ingredients.
Eating: An Act of Self-Love
Food is meant to be enjoyed and eating to be a loving, nourishing experience.
Eating should be an act of self-love…every bite should nourish your body, mind and soul.
But, for most of us, we’ve created unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors around our food choices.
Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God, holds firm to the theory that your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, spirituality.
If that’s true, then it’s also a great opportunity for personal growth, exploration, and self-reflection.
Sometimes I eat a gluten-free, dairy-free, coconut macaroon (or two) “just because.” Oftentimes it’s because I need a quick afternoon pick-me-up. Sometimes it feels like a reward for a day well done. Sometimes it feels nourishing. Other times it feels like straight-up rebellion.
But, I enjoy the macaroon…I savor every sweet bite. And, I don’t feel guilty.
Eat the Cake…Mindfully
Most of the time, choose healthy, organic, good-for-you foods. But, allow yourself the freedom to enjoy and savor (in moderation) additional foods that bring you pleasure and enjoyment.
Your intuition will help you know how often, what types of foods are on the “okay to indulge” list, and what quantity to enjoy.
Release yourself from all judgment, guilt and shame around your choices. You consciously made the decision to indulge your cravings and desires….so enjoy it.
But, the next steps are the most important. Because I’m not just giving you the “green light” to blindly eat cake.
Be open to asking yourself why…why did you want the cake?
What are you feeling? Needing? Wanting? Is it reward, comfort, or rebellion? Were you tired and needed a quick fix? Or was it “just because” it was your birthday and you always eat cake on your birthday?
You’ll start to notice themes.
How does your choice reflect how you feel about yourself? Or, as Geneen Roth suggests, what does it mirror about your fears, anger, transformation or spirituality?
Every aspect of our health…the choices we make, our lifestyles, the foods we choose, and even the ailments we’re given…are opportunities for personal expansion and growth.
Food is a great tool because our relationship with food is a deeply personal, and intimate one. And, it’s something we “do” three times a day.
What’s the “must have” indulgence on your healthy diet?
Please leave a comment below.