Keep in mind that the purpose of this post has nothing to do with guilt or shame, rather the removing of these from your eating choices. Sometimes practicing self-discipline (which also happens to be a fruit of the spirit) in the form of refraining from partaking is the healthiest thing to do. Other times, the healthiest thing to do for your mindset and your physical enjoyment, is to partake. Refraining from eating something that you don’t normally eat because it does not make you feel your best or help you move toward your goals can be a form of self care. Indulging in this exact same food, in the right context and with the right mindset can also be a form of self-care. The difficulty can be discerning between the two circumstances.
Also, stay tuned for more on how I navigate both side of this process! I have an upcoming 2-part post series on eating at special events and how I navigate them! Part 1 will cover how I navigate in such a way that I stick to eating in a way much like my routine choices. Part 2 will cover how I indulge mindfully, without guilt, and without getting derailed from going right back to my healthy eating habits!
1️⃣ Think about your future self. Instead of thinking only about what you want in the moment, think about your future thoughts surrounding the choice you’re about to make. To do this, I find it is helpful to ask questions. Things like: Will I be satisfied by indulging in this treat? Will it leave me wanting more? Will I beat myself up for having it? Will I truly enjoy the experience with no guilt? Will I be OK with how I feel physically after I eat it based on how much I will enjoy it? The ultimate goal is to get to a place where you can answer these questions honestly and make a decision based around that data. Remove emotional judgment from it and just get clinical.
2️⃣ Think about your past self. You’ve likely been in this situation before. How did you feel when you indulged? How did you feel when you abstained? In both cases there is sufficient data for you to make a good judgment call as to how you will feel in this scenario.
3️⃣ Would you go out of your way to get it right now? Consider the full experience. Is this a case of food FOMO, or a time when you will truly enjoy something outside of your usual choices? You are a grown adult. You have access to almost any food at any time. Just because it’s convenient at this moment does not mean that you need to eat it. However, if you truly want it enough to have gone out of your way to get it, then by all means go for it. Just because it’s free or available doesn’t mean you have to have it. An analogy I often use of my clients is this: If someone walked up and offered you free drugs, would you say yes despite knowing it’s not going to move you toward your health goals? I’m gonna guess no. Also, don’t fall victim to guilt. You aren’t obligated to take something just because it’s offered. If your neighbor’s kid is selling girl scout cookies you don’t want, make a donation without getting cookies. If your mother in law wants to send you home with leftovers, you are allowed to politely say no.
4️⃣ Be mindful. Check in with yourself to see if you’re actually hungry for this specific item, or if you are just on autopilot or eating out of habit. Do you really want popcorn, or are you just ordering it because that’s what you’ve always done at the movies? Do you really want a slice of cake, or is it just habit because you’re at a birthday party? Do you really want bread, or did you just stick your hand in the basket because the waiter brought it to the table and everyone else was grabbing a piece? Do you really want the candy from the jar that your coworker always keeps full in plain sight for everyone on the counter at work, or is it habit to take a piece when you walk by? Pay attention—not to judge yourself—but to gather data and understand why you make the choices that you make. When you understand why you make the choices you make, you’re more likely to make better choices!
5️⃣ Involve the Lord. Ask Him to help you discern what is the best in this specific situation at this specific time. The same set of scenarios may look different at different times, so seeking His wisdom will allow you to know what choice is best every time. Ultimately, you want to make a decision that respects yourself and honors Him.
I pray these tips help to bring clarity and practical wisdom to the process of making healthy eating a routine habit, but still allowing yourself to enjoy food without guilt and in a way that honors the Lord!!
If you need help navigating the process of food freedom? I’m here to help! You can get info on my Meal Mastery Mentorship here! For a personalized Meal Mastery Nutrition Audit with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, go here!
For help with building healthy habits and replacing unhealthy ones, head here!
Are you ready? Let’s get growing!