Editor’s note: This article discusses eating disorders and recovery from eating disorders. Please take care of yourself if these topics can be interesting.
Disclaimer: I am writing this story while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate. No, it’s not because I’m too careful when it comes to nutrition. Nor is it because I ran out of coffee. It’s not even because my Sugar cravings It got the best of me. I drink hot chocolate because there’s a crisp chill in the Chicago air and my whole being wants to be wrapped in the cozy warmth of a cozy chocolate drink. In retrospect, I would have considered it an indulgence. Participation in it could have been met Negative self-talk and criticism. I would convince myself of guilt for not choosing green tea instead.
But I’ve since been introduced to the “all fit foods” paradigm, and it has radically changed how I see my eating habits and my mindset. I’ve spent years trying to heal my relationship with food. It required combined treatment, medication, and psychological education about eating disorders. However, there was a piece missing: paraphrasing the judgments and associations I made with food.
What is the “fit all foods” model?
The All Right Foods model supports a distinct view: each food item can be part of a person’s daily eating plan and Meal preparation. It’s no secret that we live in a culture where labeling foods as “good”, “bad”, “healthy” and “unhealthy” is the norm. So, it’s all about removing cultural meanings from foods to listen to what your body wants. You might be thinking, ‘If I eat what I want, won’t I eat ‘junk’ all the time?“ Although you may first crave foods you never allowed yourself to eat, I can assure with experience: Variety will find its way back into your daily eating habits. When you don’t categorize any forbidden food groups, you’ll start incorporating a wider range of nutrients into your meals and snacks.
Removing restrictions isn’t just about mental health. It is good for your physical health as well. By following this model, you will begin to trust your hunger cues again. This in turn becomes physical wisdom. Instead of focusing on limitations, you can lean back and listen to what you need. Sometimes this may be islands. Other times, it may be a cookie. The beauty is in letting go of the rules and letting your needs come first.
Although I found the “all the right foods” model refreshing, it was hard to let go of my bonds with fads and diets. Plus, it was hard to let go of my usual need to categorize food as ‘good’ or ‘forbidden’. Below, I delve into the strategies that have helped me incorporate this form into my eating patterns. What worked for me may not resonate with you, and that’s okay. Before you begin, remember this: Everything in life is a journey. And when it comes to something as individual as our relationship with food, consult a medical professional if there are changes you wish to make.
Strategies that helped me integrate the All Fit Foods model:
Think about why you shouldn’t eat certain foods
It took years to figure out why I was a vegetarian for six years. It was socially acceptable to cut out a whole food group (which my brain called “unhealthy”) rather than constantly rejecting whole meals. With the support of my therapist, I was able to see the bigger picture of how this eating pattern created — and recognize for the wrong reasons — a preoccupation with the foods I was eating. On top of that, I felt uncomfortable with these foods. I no longer trust my innate hunger cues. A label that seemed as simple as “unhealthy” suddenly exploded into a complete obsession.
I had to give up the false claim that I was a vegetarian for health reasons to start curing my harmful view of meat. And although it took years, I now incorporate animal protein sources into my meals a few times a week. I encourage you to step back and think about the food rules you’ve set for yourself :WWhy cut or avoid certain foods? Why do you no longer keep certain types of food at home? If you feel uncomfortable or unclear about answering these or similar questions, it may be time to reevaluate.
Focused on balance instead of perfection
At one point or another, perfectionism has affected nearly every part of my life—from my workouts to my job to my cleaning habits. So it’s no surprise that I let perfection dictate my eating habits. But I wanted to escape that feeling, and I longed to feel free and comfortable.
Working with the “all the right foods” model, I agreed that while nutrition is an important need to deal with, foods can satisfy us in other ways as well. I’m starting to focus on how energized I feel when I eat eggs, greens, and toast for breakfast. And I began to see the reality of my cravings for connection and seasonal comfort when I ate spice cake and cider on the couch with a friend. Incorporating this element of mindfulness into my meals has helped me. I ate more nutrient-rich foods and chose sweets and sweets that nourished me in other ways.
I realized that I could decide how I wanted to feel about foods
I began to look more closely at the criticism and virtue that I associated with other foods. Additionally, I’ve noticed that my language and other people’s comments during my meals always seem to be judgmental. I was either ‘good’ for the salad choice or I expected to feel guilty for saying ‘yes’ to dessert. It became clear to me that the words we use to describe foods perpetuate the harmful narratives we put on food.
I taught myself to look outside the phrases that were ingrained in me. Therefore, I began to form a new language regarding food. There was nothing more powerful than realizing that I determine how I feel about what I eat. Food became a tonic and soothing to the soul. Become a source of communication and conversation.
My advice: Little by little, bring awareness to judgmental thoughts as they arise. Think about them and maybe what they are trying to tell you. Intuitive Eating Journal can be supportive here. Of course, it is not always possible to have a notebook every time you sit down for a meal. However, it can be an effective way to turn judgments into a more impartial and non-judgmental experience. Focus on the satiation of the meal or the aesthetic pleasure of diving into a dish rather than the calorie content or societal associations of that food. You may find that you begin to trust your personal decisions about food — from portion size to hunger cues and everything in between.
I constantly started introducing foods that I would have rejected myself in the past
While it took time and support, I was able to work my way up to serving the packaged, processed foods I once feared. I had Pop-Tarts for occasional snacks and recovered my underlying love for ice cream. Similar to my experience with meat, I began to notice that eating these foods regularly resulted in reduced cravings. In addition, my binge eating habits declined, and I trusted myself about foods I hadn’t eaten before. If you notice that this is an issue for you, try working with a dietitian or consulting a healthcare provider who can guide you through this challenging journey. Together, you can talk about the strategies that will work best for you.
I’ve accepted that everyone eats differently – and there is no “good” or “bad” way.
Our culture has always embraced the belief that what you eat defines who you are. Personally, I grumble about the old saying “you are what you eat”. Let’s be clear: nno thing About what’s on your plate represents who you are as a person. Learning to embrace the fact that all foods can be part of your eating habits can help you jump off the fad diet bandwagon. Remember: your ingrained beliefs about food won’t change overnight. But little by little, as you practice the principles of the “fit all foods” model, you will begin to feel food freedom for yourself.
If you have an eating disorder or have disturbed thoughts or behaviors regarding food and eating, please seek help. Call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 for support, reach out to a qualified medical professional, or for a 24-hour crisis line text “NEDA” to 741741.
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