Peanut butter used to be my “vice.”
I always wanted it, but never let myself have it. At the time, it just didn’t fit into my self-imposed diet plan. It was too high-calorie. Too small of a portion size. Too much fat.
During my time in-between undergrad and grad school, I used to waitress and bartend at the Harvard Club. Bartending always threw me for a loop because I never knew any of the drinks customers were ordering. If it wasn’t wine or a martini … I’d be asking the poor person what was in the drink… Still shocks me to this day they put me at the bar….
Regardless, at the bar there were huge canisters of peanuts to refill the little snack containers at each cocktail table with. Well, when it’d get really slow and I’d be in the plush, gigantic room alone, I’d sit there, mindlessly eating peanut after peanut after peanut. Their salty goodness coupled with the creamy texture once you started chewing… it was like peanut butter.
One night, after a shift, I went to the grocery store and bought my first ever jar of peanut butter, since I had left my parents house as a teen.
When I got home, I proceeded to eat almost the entire jar. I felt so incredibly gross after. But what I did know was that it was true….I really loved peanut butter. And it was a food I purposely avoided for years, which made me really sad to think about.
Although I didn’t feel great after my peanut-butter binge, something deep inside me switched. I made a conscience choice to finally allow myself to eat peanut butter. I had done this whole deprive, obsess and overeat thing before with other foods – many times – and I was so over it. I needed to get over myself and allow myself to eat peanut butter, like a normal human being. Not out of the jar. Not manically with a spoon in-hand and jar in another, and not after hours of depriving myself or only after a super intense gym fest, just whenever.
What started happening with this “allowing” was mindfulness and trusting my body. These concepts were revolutionary to me at the time.
Yes, in school I had learned all the science behind why peanut butter was in fact a healthy food, but I didn’t learn how to get over a food fear. And maybe you haven’t either…
If you have food fears, a certain food you never allow yourself, or maybe a food group you completely cut out, I want you to begin practicing the 3 principles below, or at least open your mind to them.
This will especially be important, if you never feel satisfied; you feel like you’re going crazy with food, calories, and your diet; or if you have cut out foods and food groups to lose weight or look a certain way and you’re getting upset because you’re not “getting there.”
1. Grant yourself permission
Sometimes all we need is permission to allow ourselves to do that thing that we really want to do, but think we shouldn’t. To be mad at your boss for not communicating well. To be mad at your partner for not showing up like they said they would. To set staunch boundaries. To eat carbs. To skip the workout. My point is there are lots of things we don’t allow ourselves to do because we view them as things we shouldn’t be doing. But in reality, they’re all perfectly fine things that are OK to do. You are not expected to be a perfect human being. You are expected to live. And in living, we make a whole lot of mistakes.
So, I want you to think about all the foods you’re not allowing yourself to eat and then ask yourself WHY?? Ask “why” 5 times to really get to the heart of the matter and see if your answers speak to your heart – or are they just a way to control or mold your body into something it may not physiologically and naturally want to go to.
The thing is when we have foods we don’t allow themselves, we generally don’t feel satisfied. And we obsess. And then when that food finally rolls around – whether it be ice cream, french bread, or pasta – we binge > feel guilty > deprive or over exercise > feel guilty some more > repeat.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if you just allowed yourself what you wanted with a dose of mindfulness?
2. Practice mindfulness – it makes all the difference
If you allowed yourself anything you wanted to eat without practicing mindfulness, you’d end up in a sticky situation. Personally, if I let myself eat anything I wanted without being mindful, I could easily end up eating Reeses’ Pieces all day. But the thing is, I know my body well enough and I’m mindful enough that I’m aware how terrible I’d feel if I let myself go there.
Key point: mindfulness is a major thing here. The daily practice here is to enjoy food, while truly and wholly being mindful about what you and your body need. There’s a huge difference between mindlessly eating a pint of ice cream in front of the TV versus scooping out a scoop into a bowl, being aware that this is something you truly want to enjoy (not just to numb out the world or your emotions), and then in fact enjoying it. And at the end of your eating experience, feeling pleased and satisfied. Not gross and guilty.
See the difference? One is mindful. One is mindless.
The more aware you can be of your hunger and fullness cues, emotions, and foods you eat and how they all link together, the more you’ll be able to see what works for you and your body and what doesn’t.
Reflection is essential here. Keep a journal.
Which brings me to one of my favorite topics – experimentation. Throughout your journey of granting yourself permission and mindfulness, holding the perspective of experimentation will be transformative. Because the honest truth is that only you know what works best for you. Not me. Not some guru. Not some wellness article you randomly found floating around Facebook. You. And only you knows what’s best for you and your body.
It’s your job to try new things and see what works for you and what doesn’t. But, I’ll tell you now, if you’re not truly open this won’t work for you. This whole process won’t, actually. But, the good news is that if you are open in heart and mind, you will soar.
So experiment. If you cut out carbs at dinner and are only doing the whole protein and veg thing, but find yourself not satisfied and raiding kitchen cupboards an hour later, add some healthy carbs, like potatoes, brown rice, or lentils and see how your body feels. If you’re always skipping breakfast but find yourself back-loading your day, add in a small morning meal, like peanut butter and whole grain toast with a piece of fruit; oatmeal with berries; or yogurt with nuts and fruit and see how that makes a difference in your night-time eating and overall energy. If you always feel hungry after eating, see what happens if you add a little more protein to your meal.
If you eat when you’re stressed or full of anxiety or to numb, try getting into the practice of meditation (one of my favorite apps) or journaling daily. Or perhaps it’s something bigger and deeper you need to work through – thoughts and stories you tell yourself that are holding you back; the need for more boundaries; or the need to speak your authentic truth.
Today, more than ever there’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way. But the important thing to remember is that no matter how you look, if you don’t work out your inner stuff, you will always feel not so great.
This is not about the number on the scale, this is about allowing yourself to learn to trust your body, own your actions, and appreciating your journey (and body) the whole way through.
It is through your ability to allow yourself to live life while viewing difficulties as an opportunity to practice what you’ve already learned and to see how far you’ve come that you will thrive.
Just give yourself some time, have fun, and be kind to yourself along the way.
With so much love XX,