Following a balanced diet is a great thing. However, sometimes the motivation to eat healthily can go a little too far and turn the relationship to food into a negative one. You may even find yourself worrying about food choices, instead of enjoying them. In this post, I will discuss some thoughts and terms that frequently pop up in context with healthy eating. Maybe it will help you to reflect on your own thoughts about food and you think more critically next time you stumble upon them.
No meal is a ‘cheat meal’, it is simply a meal. “Cheating” implies something negative and by no means should you regret or feel guilty about having a good time, enjoying something you like. Besides that, planning a cheat meal or cheat day encourages a restrictive eating behavior on all other days, leading up to a consumption of a large amount of “forbidden” foods, that can be classified as a binge. Behavior like this is far away from having a healthy mindset about food.
Food is a necessity that we need to live- much like the air you are breathing. It is nothing you “deserve” only after a workout or a certain amount of time. Eating is essential to survive and for your body to function properly. Think about it this way, it doesn’t make sense to tell yourself you are only allowed to pee after a 5K run- the same thing goes for having a meal.
A clean diet = Happiness
Throughout my research, I have found many people are motivated to change their eating habits because they believe that happiness is related to a ‘good’ diet. Social media often gives us a very positive, yet, one-sided insight into people’s lives. Only seeing the cheerful moments of somebody’s life, paired with pictures of an idealized diet, leads to the assumption that mental well-being and eating habits are connected. And yes, a balanced diet may, in fact, be helpful to feel good, but it is only one, tiny building blog. Mental health is made up of many, many more aspects and focusing on diet only, can not only make you feel depressed, but it can also lead to the negligence of all the other factors.
Comparing your Food to what you see on Social Media
Are you looking at pictures of food online? Or are you following people who post about their daily eating habits? Well, you are most likely to come across people, who seem to eat the prettiest and most elaborate dishes. Be aware that those dishes you see are created to look vivid and photographable. An apple with yogurt and oats is just as healthy as exotic papaya, filled with more colorful and expensive fruits. Frozen veggies, simple dishes, and canned beans are amazing options if you don’t have a big budget or a lot of time to cook. How colorful or presentable your food looks does not determine it’s nutritional value. You don’t need superfoods, supplements or even kale to get all necessary nutrients and vitamins. Additionally to that, don’t compare your eating habits to those of others. Everybody’s needs are different and even changing on a daily basis.